Havasu Canyon

Havasu Canyon, named for the beautiful blue-green water, is home to the Havasupai tribe. Part of the Grand Canyon, it is full of red canyon walls contrasting with turquoise rivers and waterfalls. It's beauty attracts people from all over.

Starting February 1st of each year, the Havasupai take campground reservations for the entire year. This year, Ashley and I decided to make a concerted effort to get a reservation. We woke up early and logged in. After two hours of struggling with the website, watching dates slowly fill up, the website stabilized and we discovered a disconcerting truth: we had a choice between a reservation at most two weeks away, in the middle of winter, or a wait of another year to try again. We checked our schedules, checked the weather, and decided to dive in--we now had two weeks to get ready for a four day hiking trip.

As our departure date approached, the weather predictions became unpredictable. One day, the forecast looked great. The next, the forecast said it'd be raining and snowing the whole trip. Four days of rain in a canyon prone to flash floods would be more than just unpleasant. We packed for the trip but waited until the last minute to determine if it would be safe to go. The departure day came and...it rained all day. Thankfully, the predictions said the next two days would be great and the final day would be OK if we started early--the snow shouldn't start until late afternoon. If we skipped the first day, we could still make this a three day trip. Instead of starting our hike on Valentine's Day, we'd grab a nice dinner and an early bed and head out in the morning.

As it turns out, making dinner plans for Valentine's Day on Valentine's Day can be its own adventure--reservations were unavailable for any of our favorite restaurants. We decided not to settle and went to our favorite restaurant. We arrived 15 minutes after opening and saw an older couple leaving the restaurant. Undeterred, we went in and asked if they could fit us in, even if it meant eating at the bar. As luck would have it, the older couple hadn't been turned away. They'd decided to cancel their reservation when they realized it was a prix fixe menu only. The staff were happy to seat us.

The next morning, we drove to the trailhead, strapped on our packs, and hiked into the canyon, starting on the late side. While a beautiful hike, the helicopter flying back and forth kept reminding us how much nicer it would be without our packs. We resolved to look into helicopter and mule options for the hike out. We eventually made it to Supai, checked in (with 5 minutes to spare), and continued down to the campground. Once we passed Supai, the river became our constant companion and beautiful waterfalls were regularly visible.

The campground itself spans between two massive waterfalls with the river running alongside (and through some of the campsites on lower ground...we were glad to have skipped the rain day). We made it there at sunset, set up our tent, and enjoyed a hot packaged meal before bed.

The next day we spent relaxing, recovering, and exploring the waterfalls. We chatted with our fellow travelers and learned how famous this place is internationally--an especially large number of Indians (from India) were there because of the waterfalls' presence in a movie. We teamed up with another hiker to rent a mule to carry our bags out the next day--not cheap but totally worth it. We also heard about the previous day's weather--18 hours of constant rain, flooding in the campground, wading through knee deep water, abandoning gear to helicopter out in the morning, and more. It was obvious we had made the right choice.

After too short a visit, it was time to hike out. Mostly uneventful until the end, when the sunny weather turned into a snowstorm. We hurried out and back to our car, eager to return to Flagstaff before the roads became impassable. We hope to spend more time in this beautiful land.