By Michelle DeVona
Cradled deep inside the Grand Canyon there exists a place that far surpasses any image conjured upon mere mention of the park itself. This Shangri-La of the Southwest, otherwise known as Havasu Canyon, is an enchanted oasis that lays within the Havasupai Indian Reservation.
Home to the Havasupai tribe, Havasu Canyon is known for its number of turquoise waterfalls set in the midst of the dry remote desert. Hence the name Havasupai, which means “the people of the blue-green water.” The reservation area has remained largely untouched as visitor numbers are kept to a minimum. However, the Havasupai rely primarily on tourism for their economy, and even operate a small village within the canyon that hosts a lodge, a grocery store, a restaurant, and the only US post office that still receives mail by pack mule. Despite the “tourist center,” the reservation has retained its pristine environment, most likely due to the remote location. In order to reach the waterfalls of Havasu Canyon, visitors must endure an eight mile trek down the Hualapai Trail, which can be traveled by foot or horse only. As a means to conserve the reservation area, the Havasupai tribe has forbidden any kind of vehicle or train from going into the canyon.
Of course, in order to truly connect with the spirit of Havasu Canyon and its people, one must experience the water. The Havasupai consider these waters to be sacred, and it is important that visitors remain conscious of this fact, therefore respecting the natural surroundings and tribe. Mooney Falls is perhaps the most magical of all, albeit the precarious descent required to reach the bottom. Rest assured, the hike down is well worth the effort with a number of swimming holes and pools resting at the foot of the falls. More so, if visitors want to get a sense of the canyon and waters, it is recommended to spend at least a few days exploring the area. To swim in the waters is to catch a glimpse of the mystical paradise that the Havasupai have called home for hundreds of years. Thankfully, we are so very fortunate for having the opportunity to immerse ourselves in their world if only for a short time.
About the author: Michelle DeVona is a travel addict who has been deeply infected with wanderlust disease. She has lived in Prague, and backpacked her way through various parts of the globe. After completing a one way road trip across the United States, she can currently be found whiling away her days in Portland, Oregon.
Image credit: Samuel Hagler