One mile past the Supai Village, you will get your first glimpse of the breathtaking Upper Navajo Falls, which tumble over a 50-foot sheer cliff. Photo by Travis Burke
Although the Grand Canyon is cleaved by the Colorado River, it’s not the kind of place that conjures up images of tropical waterfalls and effervescent pools. While parts of the canyon do see snowfall and extreme cold, it’s known as a desiccate place. Dry—the kind of place that’s soul-stirring and awe-inspiring but that nonetheless leaves you with dirt on your teeth and red in your eyes.
The GrindTV crew could have easily spent weeks in Havasu Canyon capturing the smaller waterfalls that are often overlooked by visitors. Photo by David Hatfield
The great canyon’s desert clime makes the waterfalls of Havasu Canyon—which sits on the edge of the Grand Canyon National Park on land overseen by the Havasupai Tribe—all the more alluring. These waterfalls are perhaps the only attraction in the Southwest that are reminiscent of the filming locations used in “Jurassic Park.” In fact, if you visit them, you’ll likely never believe you’re looking at one of Arizona’s—and not Hawaii’s—natural wonders.
The canyon features five major falls—Upper and Lower Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, Beaver Falls, and Mooney Falls, which rises 190 feet—and hundreds of tiny falls and turquoise pools interwoven by the spring-fed Havasu Creek and festooned with giant water ferns and other vegetation. People camp near the large falls and spend their days swimming in the 70-degree pools, relaxing under shaded cottonwoods, and playing behind the sonorous falls, where soft water droplets splash against their faces.
If a trip to these falls is now on your bucket list, start planning today. Because summer temperatures rise to the 100s, the fall and spring are the best times to visit Havasu Canyon. To visit, however, you’ll need to make reservations to stay at the nearby lodge or campground, and this process can take several months.
You’ll also need to plan your mode of transportation to the falls, which are located 10 miles from the nearest trailhead. Many people backpack the 8 miles to the Supai Village and stay at the lodge there, or they make the extra 2-mile trek the campgrounds located closer to the biggest waterfalls.
If you want to bring more than what you can carry in a backpack to your campground, the Supai Village offers transportation via horse and mule, and you can even take a helicopter into the canyon, if that’s more your style. To get the full experience, we recommend that you hike in, spend a few days exploring, and then rent horses to ride out of the canyon. It will likely be one of the most beautiful—if not the most beautiful—hikes and rides you’ll ever experience, and an adventure you’ll never forget.
Photographer David Hatfield stands before the Havasu Canyon rim on the trailhead before he and Travis Burke begin the 10-mile trek to the waterfalls. It is highly recommended that you begin this trek before sunrise, as temperatures can soar no matter what time of year you tackle it. Photo by Travis Burke
Mule trains and helicopters are the only way that the Supai Village, which features a lodge, small general store, café, and stalls for horses and mules, can get supplies. Photo by David Hatfield
After 8 miles of hiking you will reach Supai Village, which is surrounded by sheer rock walls. Photo by David Hatfield
Some of the local kids enjoying a ride through the village; photo by David Hatfield
A major flood swept through the canyon in 2008, permanently altering much of the landscape and creating Upper and Lower Navajo Falls. The canyon’s face is ever changing, in fact, thanks to floods and the creek’s high calcium carbonate content. Photo by Travis Burke
A short distance past Upper and Lower Navajo Falls you’ll find Havasu Falls, which drops 100 feet into a foamy green pool. High volumes of calcium carbonate in the pools and creek create the vivid coloring. Photo by David Hatfield
The view from below Havasu Falls is just as amazing as above. Photo by Travis Burke
Another reason to visit Arizona’s Havasu Canyon: the trillions of stars that light the night sky. Photo by David Hatfield
The canyon features many small water crossings as the trail weaves back and forth over the creek, which is a tributary to the Colorado River. Photo by Travis Burke
The trail down to Mooney Falls is unforgettable but requires more of an adventurous spirit, as you must make your way through multiple caves and up and down wood and chain ladders. Photo by Travis Burke
Being able to stand in front of the 190-foot Mooney Falls is definitely worth the hike, however. Photo by Travis Burke
The landscape surprises with every turn. Photo by Travis Burke
If you set aside a day to go on a 6-mile round-trip hike to Beaver Falls you will be rewarded with unique landscape that isn’t found anywhere else in the canyon. Here, the trail takes you to an area of the canyon the locals call “The Garden,” which features grape vines and dense vegetation that canvases the entire floor. Photo by Travis Burke
Gina, 71, right, and Peter, 72, from Florida on the hike to Beaver Falls that requires multiple creek crossings and climbs up and down several ladders. Photo by Travis Burke
A few of the hundreds of smaller waterfalls that trundle through the canyon; photo by Travis Burke
Travis and David make their way out of the canyon. “I’ve been riding horses my entire life, and this is the most beautiful ride I have ever been on,” David remarked. Photo by Travis Burke
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