What you should know before hiking to Havasupai Falls

If you have been on the Internet in the last 10 years, it’s likely you have seen this iconic turquoise-colored waterfall cascading over bright redwall limestone.

This stunning swimming hole is in a remote part of the Grand Canyon and accessible only by a 10-mile hike in or by helicopter. The land is administered by the Havasupai Tribe, which has lived in the area for more than 1,000 years. Known as Havasu ‘Baaja — or people of the blue-green waters — the people are inseparable from the identity of the land.

It’s easy to emotionally invest in this landscape. From the first glimpse of the water, it’s difficult to resist being captivated by its unbelievably bright color.

This is also an immensely popular destination. The falls are crowded and the campground spots are tight. Expect close quarters and to get to know your fellow campers. You will likely hike in and out with a large group of people, which is both comforting and a little pesky if you’re looking for a pristine trail and a solitary experience. It’s kind of like the Disneyland of backpacking trips — nobody gets to ride Space Mountain in their own car and nobody gets to experience this place without company. You’ll wait in line and you will deal with other people. If you’re OK with that and the trade-off is worth it to you, then you’ll have a great time. If you want to experience unadulterated nature on your own, however, this isn’t the trip for you. This can also be a difficult hike, especially as temperatures rise.

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