Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Oldest Thing in the Grand Canyon

As I ready myself for yet another visit to Arizona, I'm reminded of one of my favorite places in all the world.  The Havasupai Indian Reservation down in the western part of the Grand Canyon.  That's right, there's about 600 people living down there in Supai Village.  This place is older than the Grand Canyon Village, it's older than Phantom Ranch, It's older than the lodge on the North Rim.  It's a town and it's down in a canyon connecting to the main canyon.
There are a few ways to get to Supai Village.  The most obvious is to walk, but remember, this walk is not for the feint of heart.  It's about eight miles through a canyon in the desert.  It is beautiful, however.  When you reach Supai Village, you'll feel like you've entered the Garden of Eden.  It's lush and beautiful with streams and waterfalls and lush greenery, unlike the trip there through the harsh desert.  The village contains everything necessary; a store, a restaurant, a school, a clinic, a museum, a lodge, and a campground in addition to the houses of the locals.  It really is a fully functioning town.
There are other ways to reach the village.  You can ride a horse with a guide by reservation.  You can go by helicopter for a reasonable price.  Most often the helicopter ride costs only about $85 per person each way.  That's really not bad.  I do think that there is just something special about the walk.
The Havasupai are wonderful hosts.  When I was there, they were the friendliest people I'd ever met.  Remember, they've opened their lives as a tourist attraction.  They're a special bunch.  They have demonstrations of their traditions for visitors.  You can go in a sweat lodge if you like.  You get a great dose of their culture while in their village.
Most people come for the view however.  The Havasupai Reservation is home to some of the most famous and most amazing waterfalls in the world.  Even if you think you haven't seen them, I bet you have.
 Havasu Falls is one of those waterfalls that we've all seen on calendars and posters.  It's one of the most photographed items in the area.
Mooney Falls is at the epicenter of the canyon that most of the visitors hike in.  The only way past it is to climb down the cliff that it falls over.
The hiking alone at the reservation is worth the visit.  The waterfalls alone are worth the visit.  The people that live in the village alone are worth the visit.  The village alone is worth the visit.  Put it all together and you would should be ashamed of yourself if you go the traditional route and visit the south rim.  If you only go to the south rim, you're missing it.  There's so much to the Grand Canyon that people don't know about.  The main park is just the beginning.
Just remember, there's only one way to enjoy this adventure.  Make a reservation through the tribe that lives there.  They enjoy visitors, but they don't much care for drop in guests.  Do this one.  You'll never regret it.  It's the trip of a lifetime in a big hole in Arizona.


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