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Sat, Aug. 15

Grand Canyon river guides and boaters asked to bypass Havasu Canyon to protect Havasupai Tribe from virus

The confluence of Havasu Creek with the Colorado River. (NPS/Erin Whittaker)

The confluence of Havasu Creek with the Colorado River. (NPS/Erin Whittaker)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – In an effort to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to further safeguard the Havasupai people and their traditional lands, the National Park Service (NPS) is requesting all river trips, both commercial and non-commercial, to voluntarily bypass Havasu Canyon on the Colorado River.

The request goes into effect immediately. River guides and boaters are encouraged to honor this request out of respect and safety for the Havasupai people. Havasu Canyon is located at river mile 157 of 277 Colorado River miles extending through the Grand Canyon.

Currently, the Havasupai reservation is under an emergency closure because of the COVID-19 virus.

In May, the Havasupai Tribal Council suspended tourism until further notice.

The tribe stated that the coronavirus poses a grave public health threat to the Havasupai Tribe, therefore, the Tribal Council decided to take proactive measures to prevent its spread to the reservation, including declaring a state of emergency, restricting all travel in and out of the reservation, enacting a stay-at-home and mandatory quarantine order for all reservation residents.

Entry into the reservation is prohibited and is strictly enforced by the Havasupai Tribe. Camping at the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River is always prohibited.

The tribe has stationed law enforcement at the boundary between the reservation and the park and will enforce any attempts to violate the closure order. The tribe will also share with NPS staff any information gathered on individuals or companies violating the closure order.

The NPS and the Havasupai Tribe stated they will continue to assess conditions and adjust operations as needed to provide for the safety of the Havasupai residents and boaters.

Grand Canyon National Park stated that its leadership is committed to working closely with its neighboring tribal communities to ensure that increasing access to the park is done in a manner that is sensitive to their interests and concerns.

“Park leadership respects the position of the Havasupai Tribe and their need to safeguard tribal members and lands,” the park stated.

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