As one of America’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders, the Grand Canyon tops many a bucket list for summer road trips and weekend getaways. There are more ways to experience the majesty of this desert landmark, though, than from a perch along the Grand Canyon’s South Rim — at the Havasupai Reservation, you can immerse yourself in the canyons, trails and waterfalls that make this desert oasis so incredible.
The Havasupai Reservation is a 185,000-acre piece of land that houses some of the Grand Canyon’s most stunning sights. Bright blue-green pools, roaring waterfalls and canyon walls that have stood the test of time greet travelers who make the trek to this hidden side of the Grand Canyon, which remains pristine as it’s maintained by the native Havasupai tribe. The tribe also maintains the canyon’s only village, Supai, which can only be reached by hiking, horseback or helicopter. Once there, you can set up camp in the lodge, try fry bread or Supai tacos at the cafe and see the country’s last mail mule train.
Supai Village is also a home base for visitors wanting to see Havasu Canyon’s famed waterfalls. Havasupai, after all, means “people of blue-green waters,” and with a trip to any of the reservation’s five waterfalls, you’ll quickly see how the Havasupai people earned their name.
From Supai, a two-mile hike will bring you to the famed waters and oasis-like setting of Havasu Falls, one of the most photographed waterfalls in the Grand Canyon. A steady rush of fresh water rolls off the red rock wall of the canyon and into the pool below, where you’ll be hard-pressed not to jump in for a swim. Surrounding the waters are plenty of bright green trees that almost make you forget you’re in the middle of a desert, and surrounding boulders make for the perfect place to sit and admire the crown jewel of Havasu Canyon.
You can camp near the waterfall at Havasu Campground — just remember you’ll need a reservation — or you can continue on to see the sights and sounds of Mooney Falls, which sits just beyond the campsites. The trail will take you to the top of the falls — a perfect spot for a picture of the 210-foot waterfall — but to get to the swimming hole, you’ll have to navigate a rugged and steep trail to access the bottom of the falls. Ladders and chains help with the descent, but because of the mist that often covers the rocks and makes for slippery conditions on the way down, visitors may want to swim in the easily accessible Havasu Falls pool instead.
If you decide to venture down, though, continue on the trail to reach the last of Havasu Canyon’s waterfalls: Beaver Falls. A series of flat terraces comprise this cascading beauty, and while the pools are shallower, they still make for refreshing swimming holes after the two-mile hike from Mooney Falls.
Want to experience the hidden beauties of the Grand Canyon for yourself? Check out the Havasupai website for reservation information.
(Main image: raypilla)