My first trip in 2017 was in Arizona, why not spend my last trip of 2017 in Arizona too? The first time I visited the Grand Canyon I was traveling from Las Vegas thinking that I would never come back. I was so impressed by the beauty of that view, so close to a painting, almost fake. My last trip was at the Grand Canyon too, but not in the usual touristy part of the North or South Rim, but in the hidden gem which is Supai, Arizona.
Supai is a village of 208 people in Coconino County, Arizona, within the Grand Canyon. It is the only place in the United States where mail is still carried out by mules. Why? Because this place has been referred to as the “most remote community” in the States, accessible only by helicopter, on foot or by mule. This village is situated at 8 miles (13 km) from the nearest road and has no automobiles in the community. If you want to fly in or out I suggest you check the website. Timetables may change. The first time that we went there the helicopter was supposed to fly but then it didn’t. So, don’t rely too much on the helicopter schedule.
Arriving at Supai has definitely been an adventure. We flew out of Chicago on Friday night to Las Vegas, we picked up our rented car from the rental center and then we drove 3 hours to the Hilltop, the parking lot where the trail to Supai starts. We slept in the car about two hours. It was really cold, the temperature was around 0C (32F) and we could feel it in our bones. Around 7 am we “woke up”, we got ready and started our hike around at 7:45 am. The first part of the trail is a series of downhill switchbacks that last around 1 mile (1.6 km). It is an unpaved road, made of gravel and you have to be really careful where you put your feet because you could lose grip and fall. That’s why I deeply suggest wearing good hiking boots. I was wearing Nike shoes and I had to be careful on the smooth stones. Don’t try to hike with new shoes, you have a lot to walk and blisters are not going to make your hike better.
Once you are done with the downhill switchbacks, you just have to follow the river bed until Supai, it is around 6.5 miles. It is not a difficult hike, besides the first downhill it is all flat but it can be challenging because of the gravel and the hot temperature in the summer. We went in December and it wasn’t hot at all. We were wearing jackets, scarfs, and hats so we didn’t suffer the hot temperature, just the cold wind once we arrived at the village. We had a really nice hike in and out. The only problem was the backpack. It was heavy on the shoulders and even if our legs were definitely ok, the back started to hurt after a couple of miles because we were carrying water, food, and clothes for two days. We took several stops and we arrived at Supai around noon.
Supai is a really rural village in the middle of the Grand Canyon. It’s full of stray dogs, horses, donkeys, mules, and chickens. I think there are more animals than people, and I think I stepped on a lot of horse/mule/donkey poops on my hike in the village. Once you arrive, if you have a permit for the campground you have to stop at the office to sign in. If you have a night stay at the Lodge, just head there and check in. The Lodge opened at 1 pm. After checking in, we headed to our first waterfall. Our idea was to arrive till the Beaver Falls but unfortunately, we couldn’t make it because it was going to be too dark soon. We arrived at the Mooney Falls and we realized that to make it to the Beaver Falls we had to climb down the waterfall and then walk other two miles. Time wise was impossible so we decided to spend some time at the beautiful Mooney Falls. We climbed halfway down, not all the way because the water from the waterfall was making the ground slippery and our shoes weren’t meant for those kinds of things.
After spending some time there we walked all the way back, stopping to take some pictures with the crystal blue water.
We decided to leave Havasupai Falls and Navajo Falls for the next day because we were pretty tired. Once we got to the Lodge we took a shower and we went straight to bed at 7 pm, we woke up only around 7 am the next day. A 12-hour sleep kinda night.
After we packed all our stuff in our backpacks, we headed to Havasupai Falls. It was super cold but that didn’t stop us from taking pictures with the fall.
On the way back we stopped at the Lil Navajo Falls, a beautiful place where to swim in the summer.
We headed back to the village, we stopped at the village store (full of American junk food) and then we started our hike out of Supai. I have to admit, going back was way more challenging not because the hike was difficult but because we were tired. The waterfalls are not that close to Supai, you have to walk other two miles after you hiked 8 miles to arrive at the village. It’s a lot of miles and our legs and back started to feel them on the way back, most of all on the last part: the one-mile climb up the hill. It took us several stops but at 4 pm we were in the car, ready to head back to the airport.
If you have time and the opportunity go to Supai. It’s not as difficult as people like to picture it to obtain a permit. Yeah, to go to Supai you need a permit and they usually sell the permits the first days of February for all the year and they are sold out pretty soon. BUT, there’s a but, a lot of people tend to cancel their reservations last minute and you should give it a try. If you have a set of dates, call Supai (office or lodge) and ask them if they have available permits at the campground or at the lodge. We did it and we were lucky enough to obtain the permits because someone canceled the day before.
I loved Supai. Its peace, its silence, its calm and its being out of the world have been refreshing. I loved every single moment of it, even the ones in which I was super tired. It was totally worth the miles that we drove, flew or hiked. It was a one of a kind experience and I couldn’t have to make it without Giusy, my fellow travel buddy, which I can’t wait to see in June to start our next adventure together.