The Havasupai Tribe Reservation in northern Arizona is home to some of the most impressive waterfalls in the world, and Shannon Castellano and Travis Methvin were supposed to visit them this weekend
On Friday night, the two San Diego friends and 40 other hikers camped out on a helipad. However, rest was elusive due to warnings from tribal members that an emergency services helicopter could land at any time.
Saying, “Yeah, so we didn’t really sleep,” Castellano was heard saying on Saturday while on the way to their Sedona hotel. Simply keeping one eye and ear peeled was enough for me… Obviously, you don’t anticipate any of that occurring. So, I’m pretty sure I’m still in disbelief that I’m not there at this very moment.
Visitors to the reservation who had hoped to see the stunning waterfalls were forced to evacuate due to rising floodwaters.
On Friday, the official Havasupai Tribe Tourism Facebook page shared the news that flooding had destroyed the campground’s bridge. Some of the campers were rescued by helicopter and flown to safety in Supai Village, but the exact number is unknown.
The campsite is situated at a lower elevation than the town of Supai. Many hikers were forced to set up camp in the town. Because of the high water, some people were unable to reach the village and spent the night camping along the trail.
It was reported Saturday morning that floodwaters were beginning to recede, according to a Facebook post from the tribe.
Those who have obtained the necessary permits can hike to the settlement and campground. Tribal guides will meet them and show them a back trail that will take them past the creek’s water and to the campsite.
Photographing by tourists is prohibited. The trail behind the scenes passes several tribally significant locations.
Meanwhile, in its statement, the tribe said that it is using “all hands on deck” to construct a makeshift bridge leading to the campground.
When asked for comment on Saturday, Abbie Fink, the tribe’s spokeswoman, directed reporters to the group’s Facebook page.
Instead of hiking out through the mud on Saturday with a guide, Methvin and Castellano opted to take a helicopter. Even though they’ve already spent the money on a three-day stay, Methvin insists that there’s still a chance to save the vacation. Having only received permission to hike this month, he has a special place in his heart for the hikers they encountered who had reservations as far off as 2020.
After three years of waiting, they finally arrived, as Methvin put it. It’s better than having the rest of the weekend ruined, because at least we can do something else. Unfortunately, we are able to turn this situation around to our advantage.
Sedona and Supai, both in northern Arizona, have been hit hard by storms this week. Highways, access roads, and even city streets have been damaged by the resulting snow and snowmelt at higher elevations.
The Havasupai campground was flooded just as the tribe allowed visitors back into its reservation for the first time since March 2020 to see its many magnificent blue-green waterfalls. To keep the members of the tribe safe from the coronavirus, the tribe has decided to shut down. The closure was then extended by authorities through the 2017 tourist season.
Funding for repairs to property damaged by flooding in October was made available after President Obama and Vice President Biden signed a disaster declaration requested by the Havasupai Tribe in January. At the time, flooding had washed away several bridges and left downed trees on trails used by visitors and traders to access Supai Village.
The right to enter is highly sought after. Before the pandemic, the tribe’s reservation, located deep in a gorge west of Grand Canyon National Park, attracted between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors annually. The only ways to get there are on foot, by helicopter, on a horse or mule. Campsites and lodges are available for guests.
If there are any cancellations, Castellano will try to apply for a permit again later this year. ‘We just want to see I in all its glory, not muddy falls,’ she explained.