Arizona canyon famed for waterfalls to reopen after flooding

Weeks after flooding rushed through a world-famous gorge off the Grand Canyon, sending tourists fleeing to higher ground, the Arizona tribe that calls the area home is ready to welcome visitors to its reservation known for towering waterfalls that cascade into blue-green pools.

The Havasupai reservation has reopened for the first time since July 11, 2018, when about 200 people had to be evacuated by helicopter as water surged through the campground. Footbridges collapsed, tents were buried in sand and debris was strewn about.

The brunt of the damage was on an 8-mile trail that leads to the tribal village of Supai. Heavy rain wiped out the switchbacks and left behind large boulders, Tribal Council member Carletta Tilousi said.

Tourists can reach the reservation only by foot, mule or helicopter. An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people visit annually. The tribe has spent the past few weeks cleaning up with the help of neighboring tribes and volunteers, Tilousi said.

The reservation lies amid a series of creeks and canyons that make it susceptible to flooding.

A 2008 flood shut down the reservation for more than nine months. Hundreds of tribal members and tourists — some of whom were stranded for a couple of days — had to be flown out. A waterfall was lost and smaller ones formed. Kurt Schonauer of the U.S. Geological Survey said a Colorado River tributary was flowing at 100 times its normal base flow. More evacuations came after an October 2010 flood that caused $1.6 million in damage and closed the reservation for three weeks.

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