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Havasupai Canyon
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Kathy Bartosh
(sumo) - F

Locale: Southern Quebec
Havasupai Canyon on 06/30/2007 16:24:25 MDT Print View

I read some very negative reviews about the trail into Havasu Falls in the Havasupai reservation. I would welcome some feedback on this trail.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Havasupai Canyon on 06/30/2007 16:34:49 MDT Print View

"It depends!"

The trek is great, the water is cool and very clear, and experience unforgetable


You really need to call the tribe and ask very specific questions on the status and conditions before you go.

Getting accurate information on trail and water conditions can be daunting. In the past, their website was not up to date. Communications *from* the tribe regarding a material change in conditions, was in our experience poor.

Great trip when it works!


Kathy Bartosh
(sumo) - F

Locale: Southern Quebec
Re: Re: Havasupai Canyon on 06/30/2007 19:22:33 MDT Print View

Thanks for the quick reply.

Actually the reviews (3) were about trash on the trail and one about highly populated campgrounds (I assume to be just above Mooney's Falls).

You didn't encounter either?

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Re: Re: Havasupai Canyon on 06/30/2007 20:22:19 MDT Print View

Trash wasn't a problem in the past, but YMMV. After a big rain, virtually anything and everything can wash down on various parts of the trail. And not everyone practices leave no trace...

The campgrounds are 1st come 1st serve. Some are much more desirable than others, Mooney Falls is very popular.

One unique feature is all the dogs that hang around. They're very friendly, and not much of a pest, more like your next best friend waiting for something tasty.

Does that help?


David Passey
(davidpassey) - F

Locale: New York City
Re: Havasupai Canyon on 06/30/2007 21:28:59 MDT Print View

I've been a couple of times. The natural water features--clear blue green water, falls, cliffs, pools, etc., are among the best, if not the best, natural water features I have ever experienced. Spending a few days there can be wonderful. I'd go again, if I had the chance. I haven't been for 10 years though, now that I think about it.

The canyon is quite tight in most places, and there aren't latrines, and it gets high use. In my experience, I found that stepping off the trail to do one's business could be unpleasant. Also, I noticed a lot of trash in the brush. It made me a bit depressed b/c the natural features are so spectacular.

Kathy Bartosh
(sumo) - F

Locale: Southern Quebec
Havasupai Canyon on 07/01/2007 07:43:38 MDT Print View

Yes it does help Mike. Thanks to both of you for your replies.

Guess we'll hike the Narrows in Zion and stick to the rim on the GC. Don't think it is worth it to fly 3000 miles to visit a garbage dump even if it does feature beautiful falls.

Too bad some of us don't practice LNT...

Happy trails!

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: Havasupai Canyon on 07/01/2007 21:51:03 MDT Print View

Zion is spectacular and better managed than the third world conditions in the village at Supai. When I was there in 2001 there was quite a bit of flash flood damage and the pit toilets were pretty disgusting. But the falls are unique, and the campground while showing signs of high use was pleasant. The hike down to the Colorado river is worth doing. We hauled out some garbage and left our camp and the ones around us better than we found them. It's not so much a wilderness experience as a unique outing.

The Subway in Zion is a good short one or 2 day hike if the Narrows doesn't pan out. Sticking to the rim in GC is better on the north rim than the south rim, but below the rim is where you really appreciate the terrain.

Kathy Bartosh
(sumo) - F

Locale: Southern Quebec
Re: Re: Havasupai Canyon on 07/02/2007 07:22:39 MDT Print View

Thanks Neil.

The Subway hike sounds amazing but I don't have any technical experience or gear. It seems to be necessary according to what I've read. Do you agree?

We are going to be in the GC/Zion/Bryce Canyon/Death Valley area July 14-31st. Whenever possible, am looking for hikes with water features for cooling effect. What about hiking in the GC area at night. Are any of the trails safe enough to do in the dark (Bright Angel doesn't seem safe!)? We are planning to camp at Tuweep (N. Rim) but are bringing only car camping equipment (my tent weighs 11 lbs -designed for winter camping!).

BTW, does anyone out there NOT USE A TENT while hiking in the SW? Am wondering how you light packers deal with scorpions and other poisonous critters. Coming from north of the 49th I never had to deal with threat of snakes, scorpions and the like. Am working on acquiring light equipment but not ready to give up using a tent regardless of the weight.

David Passey
(davidpassey) - F

Locale: New York City
Re: Re: Re: Havasupai Canyon on 07/02/2007 08:25:42 MDT Print View

During my undergrad, I worked for wilderness programs in southern utah. We never took tents, but usually pitched tarps, and slept on ground cloths underneath.

The tarps were usually unnecessary, as it usually doesn't rain. But who wants to wake up in the night and pitch shelter on the chance it does? Also, if you're in canyon county, often campsites can be located under overhangs, etc., and so no tarp is needed.

As for scorpions, I spent a total of 12 months in the field over a number of years, and witnessed only one scorpion sting. The hiker had left his pants out of his pack overnight, and pulled them on the next day with a scorpion in the crotch--youch!!

We always slept in the open (i.e., no headnets, no zippered closures, just in our bags under the tarps), and never had an issue with ants or scorpions at night. We always said "ants go to bed at night". I'm not sure if that's true, but they didn't bother us. Although I know scorpions are active at night, we never had a problem with scorpions at night either.

I'm taking my kids down the Escalante this summer, and I'll probably pitch catenary tarps if were not under an overhang, and use BMW style bivies over our bags, which will give us the option of zipping the bug netting closed if needed/wanted.


Lorraine Pace
(SowthEfrikan) - F
Read the Backpacker article on 07/03/2007 06:55:41 MDT Print View

There was an article in Backpacker magazine a couple of issues ago about the problems in that area of the Grand Canyon. Apart from litter, and the sheer poverty of the locals, hikers have been attacked from time to time, and a Japanese woman hiker was murdered. Just be aware that there might be trouble in paradise.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Read the Backpacker article on 07/03/2007 07:17:52 MDT Print View

What sad news. I will never forget Edward Abbey's description, in his wonderful book, "Desert Soliaire" of getting trapped in pothole while hiking alone in a canyon in Havasu. His love of that area and what it represented will live forever in my heart.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Desert Soliaire on 07/03/2007 08:27:28 MDT Print View

agree that DS was great book.

from another book...

While you can. While it's still here....

One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.

- Edward Abbey

Edited by gmatthews on 07/03/2007 08:28:15 MDT.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Concerning Abbey and DS on 07/03/2007 08:36:18 MDT Print View


Kathy Bartosh
(sumo) - F

Locale: Southern Quebec
Re: Re: Re: Desert Soliaire on 07/03/2007 08:42:54 MDT Print View

Fine words may butter no parsnips but, my oh my, they do feed the soul.

Thank you. It is now on my MUST READ list.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Concerning Abbey and DS on 07/03/2007 08:52:10 MDT Print View

I was very lucky, I guess. I met and talked with Abbey at the Boston Public Library shortly before he died. He was actually very gentle and warm in person and had this wonderful twinkle in his eye. I was an aspiring writer and I asked him what advice he could give me about keeping at it when it seemed like I was never going to make it. He said, "Don't ever do it for the money. Do it because you love it. And always write about what you love, not what you know, but what you love." Then he put his hand on my shoulder and in a quieter voice said, "And don't forget to live your life." He gave a chuckle and walked off, looking very content with his presentation.

Kathy Bartosh
(sumo) - F

Locale: Southern Quebec
Re: Re: Concerning Abbey and DS on 07/03/2007 09:00:11 MDT Print View

Hi Miguel of the Tree:

Here is a book for you if you like winter: Paradise Below Zero by Calvin Rutstrum...technical aspects are outdated but the why's haven't changed a bit. Not as eloquent as the exerpt you presented but the passion is there nonetheless.


Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Re: Re: Concerning Abbey and DS on 07/03/2007 09:09:47 MDT Print View

Kathy, thanks very much! I'm always looking for new books, so I appreciate your suggestion. I also like "Miguel of the Tree" very much! What a wonderful name! Hee hee!

I think I'm hijacking the thread so I'll start a new one...

Edited by butuki on 07/03/2007 09:29:34 MDT.

Mark Daskilewicz
(markdask) - F

Locale: South Jersey
Zion & the southwest on 07/04/2007 15:12:42 MDT Print View

Hi, I highly recommend the hike to Angel's Landing in Zion. It's quite a strenuous uphill day hike but the experience and views from the top are once-in-a-lifetime (even though it doesn't meet your 'water' criteria). Just be aware that it will be extremely hot wherever you go in the Southwest in July.
Whenever I backpacked in the GC or Zion I never used a tent. I got rained on a couple nights at GC, but at the campgrounds along the Bright Angel/North Kaibab, there's always a roof somewhere to duck under.
I also slept w/out tent at the car campground at Zion, but both times the wind howled during the night and I got a face-full of cottonwood fluff. The campground is at the mouth of the canyon and I think the cool evening temps meet the hot air in the canyon and creates the nighttime winds down the canyon.
Have fun! It will be a great trip.

Gregory West
(gwest) - F
Re: Poisonous critters on 07/10/2007 23:38:26 MDT Print View

It will be very hot, so sticking near/in water is definitely a good plan. The water in the narrows is pretty cold. The poisonous critters are around, but it's so nice out at night that it's tempting to sleep out. I've done it several times without incident. Then again, one time when my friend was using a tent, he woke up in the morning with a black widow crawling on the outside of it. Another time I took down my tent in the morning and found a scorpion under it. I think the risk is pretty low of something actually happening, but i suppose it is present.

Elliot Lockwood
(elockwood) - F
Re: Havasupai Canyon on 07/24/2007 15:03:02 MDT Print View

I did Havasupai 3 weeks ago, and had a more pleasurable experience than I was expecting. I too read about the trash and crowded campgrounds. I hiked both down and up during the night. The way down, we had a full moon that allowed enjoyable headlamp-less hiking for 75% of the way. Perhaps it was only because of the darkness, but we had decent visibility and I saw virtually no trash along the trail.

The campground is very crowded, there are hundreds of people down there. However, it spans 3/4 of a mile and is on either side of Havasu Creek. It seemed relatively clean for the amount of use it receives. The creek and noise from trees & insects literally washed out almost any and all noise from neighboring camps. Some campsites were much more close to each other however, and we lucked out with an excellent one more secluded than most.

One piece of advice: DO THE HIKE TO BEAVER FALLS! (and if you have an full day to do it, down to the Colorado river). It's 3 miles one way to the falls and another 3 to the river. The hike to Beaver Falls was bar none the highlight of the trip - it's a beautiful hike through incredible greenery with the blue-green creek alongside the whole way. We swam down almost as much as hiked, in and out as we pleased. We saw only 3 other small groups out this way in half a day.

Definitely take a waterproof liner in your day pack and do some floating down the creek!

As the others said, this is NOT a wilderness experience. This is more of a social hike in a desert oasis, a very alternative style to that of most backpacking trips. I also recommend Desert Solitaire as a book to bring on this trip, or any other Abbey book.

If you have any other questions, you can email me if you like (in case I don't see this thread) at