Destination spotlight: Arizona’s Havasupai Reservation

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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.

Destination spotlight: Arizona's Havasupai Reservation
Havasu Falls is one of the top sights within the Havasupai Reservation (Image: runnr_az)

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.

Destination spotlight: Arizona's Havasupai Reservation
Helicopters offer one of the only ways to reach the Havasupai Reservation (Image: runnr_az)
Destination spotlight: Arizona's Havasupai Reservation
Havasupai tribe members don traditional garments to perform ceremonies (Image: Grand Canyon NPS)
Destination spotlight: Arizona's Havasupai Reservation
A Havasupai tribe member in traditional dress (Image: Grand Canyon NPS)
Destination spotlight: Arizona's Havasupai Reservation
Gwayl Cafe at the Supai Village serves specialties like Supai tacos and fry bread (Image: runnr_az)

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.

Destination spotlight: Arizona's Havasupai Reservation
Hikes throughout the Havasupai Reservation are filled with rocky scenes like this one (Image: runnr_az)

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.

Destination spotlight: Arizona's Havasupai Reservation
After taking in the beauty of Havasu Falls, you can go for a swim in the waterfall’s blue-green pool (Image: runnr_az)
Destination spotlight: Arizona's Havasupai Reservation
It’s easy to see why Havasu Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls of the Grand Canyon (Image: runnr_az)

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.

Destination spotlight: Arizona's Havasupai Reservation
Mooney Falls is another sight worth the hike at the Havasupai Reservation (Image: runnr_az)

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.

Destination spotlight: Arizona's Havasupai Reservation
Waterfalls run throughout the Havasupai Reservation (Image: raypilla)
Destination spotlight: Arizona's Havasupai Reservation
Beaver Falls is one of the Havasupai Reservation’s flatter and wider waterfalls (Image: jankgo)

Want to experience the hidden beauties of the Grand Canyon for yourself? Check out the Havasupai website for reservation information.

(Main image: raypilla)

Destination spotlight: Arizona’s Havasupai Reservation was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Marissa Willman
Author: Marissa Willman (786 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.