For a Grand Canyon adventure that few people experience, plan a journey to Supai, the isolated village of the Havasupai Indians.
Nestled 30 miles west of Grand Canyon Village at the end of a long dirt road and an even longer trail, Supai literally represents a different way of life.
This home of the Havasupai Indians lies within a side canyon of the Grand Canyon. While Grand Canyon Village attracts around five million visitors every year, the village of Supai draws approximately 25,000 annual guests.
The Havasupai Indians – their name means “people of the blue green water.” – are one of the smallest and most isolated Native American tribes that remain. Supai has been home to the Havasupai Indians for many centuries.
Most people who journey to Supai do so by foot. The eight-mile trek begins at Hualapai Hilltop, which is located off old Highway 66. Hikers descend through a red-rock inner gorge that is tucked into the massive limestone walls of an outer gorge.
Hualapai Hilltop is situated at the end of a paved road around 90 miles northwest of Seligman, Ariz. During the first 1 ¼ miles of the hike, trailgoers encounter steep conditions that lead to a dip of 1,100 feet in elevation. The remainder of the hike is easier as the descent is just 900 more feet.
At the bottom sits Supai, which has a grocery store, café, museum and lodge. Reservations are required to embark on the trail. The easiest way to reach Hualapai Hilltop is from Highway 66, around six miles east of Peach Springs, to Indian Route 18, which is a 64-mile-long road to the hilltop. There is a parking lot at the hilltop, where the trail can be accessed.
Supai is a remote and mostly unspoiled village Havasu Creek. There are no paved roads or parking lots. A post office downtown is the only post office in the United States that delivers mail by mule train. Visitors can send postcards with the “Mule Train Mail – Havasupai Indian Reservation” postmark.
The eight-mile hike is worth the effort because of Supai alone, but the village is just a bonus. The most breathtaking feature of the journey is three massive waterfalls. Scattered along a mile and a half of Havasu Creek, the turquoise waterfalls tumble 400 feet toward the Colorado River.
Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls are their names. The latter is named for a miner who plummeted to his death there. It is 220 feet, which is taller than Niagara Falls.
One of America’s most beautiful campgrounds rests between the Havasu and Mooney falls. Tents can be set under towering cottonwoods and beneath 400-foot red rock walls next to the creek.
For more information about the trail, the village and the falls, visit www.havasupaitribe.com.
To learn more about the Grand Canyon itself, make plans to see the National Geographic Visitor Center (www.explorethecanyon.com), which is located at the south rim entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. The visitor center serves as a destination and a resource for the most comprehensive selection of information about Grand Canyon area hotels, tours, attractions, restaurants and sightseeing and outdoor activities.
The National Geographic Visitor Center features a 500-seat IMAX Theater which shows “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets,” a 2,500-square-foot National Geographic outfitter store, National Geographic exhibits and maps, and national park interpretive services and park passes. The facility also includes a 140-seat restaurant, National Geographic Expeditions sightseeing tours and the Arizona Office of Tourism.
Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets is a perfect way to begin your Grand Canyon vacation because the film introduces viewers to the natural wonders and riveting history that lies within the canyon. The movie is shown hourly, 365 days a year. Seen by more than 40 million people since its debut 20 years ago, Grand Canyon is the highest-grossing giant-screen film of all time.