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Sat, May 30

Havasu Canyon: magnificent falls, Indian village and more<br>

Carl Wells jumps into the turquoise pool below Havasu Falls. The spring-fed water temperature remains at 70 degrees year around. Swimming is enjoyed May though September when daytime highs hover around 90 degrees.

Located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, the trailhead for Havasupai Canyon is at Hualapai Hilltop. It can be reached by exiting onto Route 66 at Seligman or Kingman and turning north on Indian 18 seven miles east of Peach Springs. You then drive northeast for 68 miles on a well-maintained paved road to the trailhead.

The hike begins at Hualapai Hilltop, elevation 5,200 feet. The first one and one-half miles are steep switchbacks. The trail then enters a small, dry desert canyon which intersects with Havasu Creek after six miles of hiking. Supai Village, elevation 3,200 feet, is located eight miles from the rim. It is home to 500 members of the small Havasupai Tribe. A general store, restaurant, 24-unit motel and tourist office are located at the village. Campgrounds are two miles from the village near the waterfalls. The native people are friendly. The only way to reach the village is by foot, horseback, or helicopter. Twenty-five thousand visitors arrive each year to this unique community. Many are Europeans.

The falls are located within three miles of the village. Havasu Creek emerges from the canyon walls and rushes a few miles to the Colorado River. Its mineral-rich, blue-green water cascades over the Canyon walls creating three unique and beautiful waterfalls. Travertine pools are formed from the minerals in the water and provide excellent swimming holes all along the stream. Sheer vertical cliffs rise up and provide a perfect backdrop to accent the Canyon floor, which contains grapevines, overgrown cottonwood trees and lush foliage.

The first waterfall below the Village is Navajo. It reminds many visitors of Hawaii. Navajo is the least visited of the falls and a favorite of the locals. Next comes Havasu Falls. This is the most photographed waterfall in the state of Arizona. It also is the most popular with swimmers and sunbathers. Flooding in the 90s destroyed many of its older travertine pools, but they are quickly reforming. It is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. The third waterfall is Mooney Falls. This is my favorite. It drops 300 vertical feet before crashing into a huge swimming pool that is forever covered in mist. The sound and greenery of this waterfall against the starkness of the Canyon wall is beyond description.

The main attractions of Havasupai Canyon are the waterfalls. They are for the more adventurous. You can also hike another eight miles to the Colorado River.

Campgrounds are located next to the creek between Havasu and Mooney Falls. Here are a few tips for those wishing to visit Havasupai:

The best time to visit is between May and October. If you do not mind paying a little extra, it is well worth it to hire a pack mule to carry up to 150 pounds of supplies in and out of the Canyon. The village and the native people are what make this place so unique, so take some time in the village. Spend at least four nights at the campgrounds. Go when a full moon is out. The moonlight on the water is gorgeous.

Reservations must be made in advance by contacting the Havasupai Tourist Enterprise in Supai. They can be reached by phone at 928-448-2141.

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