At the Base of the Grand Canyon Lie the Sparkling Havasupai Waterfalls

James Smart

Sometimes, you have to work for your reward. At the base of the Grand Canyon, near a bend in the Colorado River, lie sparkling waterfalls, turquoise pools and one of the remotest villages in the United States. There’s no road here, meaning the best way to get to them is a hike under the hot sun.

The area is part of the lands of the Havasupai people, who take their name from the region’s incandescent waters (havasu means ‘blue-green water’). Their capital, Supai, is the only place in the US where mail is still carried by mule. Around the village, waterfalls rush down rock faces into plunge pools you can swim in, gazing out at a landscape of reeds, palms and towering rock.

It’s a strenuous, steep hike to get to Mooney Falls

Exploring the creek

The best-known of the falls is Havasu, 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) from Supai. It’s a stunning spot – Beyoncé shot the video to ‘Spirit’ here, and there’s a campground and picnic tables. You also can head further up the creek to check out Mooney Falls (accessed by a steep hike via chains attached to the cliff) and Beaver Falls (which has cascades that are fun to jump off).

Make it happen

The Havasupai waterfalls are south of the Colorado River, off Route 66. To get here, you’ll need to park at Hualapai Hilltop, hiking the tiring but well-marked trail eight miles (13 kilometers) to Supai (which has shops and tourist information) before the final push for the waterfalls. There is a lodge in Supai, and both it and the camping – plus permits to enter the reserve – should be booked in advance.

If you want to make like Beyoncé, you can helicopter it to Supai, but most visitors do as the pack mules do instead and hike in, either with an organized tour or independently. If you do the latter, you should bring lots of water. The trails and falls are open throughout the year, though they’re occasionally closed when there’s a risk of flooding.

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