Yet, there is little doubt that hiking along and through the 10.5-miles of blue-green waters of Havasu Creek is the most exhilarating and spectacular riparian hike found in Arizona and maybe the entire world.
The source of Havasu Creek is on the slopes of Bill Williams Mountain near Williams, Arizona. Here snowmelt and rainfall create an often-dry rill that meanders northward across the Coconino Plateau for some 50 miles before dropping into steep sided Cataract Canyon. Shortly after entering Cataract Canyon the small stream flows into land on the Havasupai Indian Reservation.
A few miles south of the Village of Supai, the little stream reaches Havasu Springs. Here an underground river breaks the surface and 28,000 gallons of water per minute, heavy saturated with calcium carbonate (lime), pour into the waterway and creates beautiful Havasu Creek.
The calcium carbonate results in the creek bed being covered with limestone that reflects the sunlight, giving the waters of Havasu Creek its incredible blue-green color and creating the ever changing travertine formations. The water temperature of Havasu Creek stays near 70 degrees all year around.
Havasu Creek, a perennial stream, is best known for creating some of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls including Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls (I&O, Sept. 13, 2007). By following the red earth trail from the Village of Supai to the Colorado River all of these cascading wonders are seen and their travertine pools enjoyed.
Walking Havasu Creek is a wet hike. The trail crosses the flowing blue-green water many times. Often the hiker must walk in the creek bed. Good hiking shoes are a must as the limestone-lined creekbed creates some very sharp surfaces. Also, even though there is water everywhere, it is not safe to drink. Hikers need to carry sufficient drinking water.
About 2.5 miles from the village hikers must follow the trail through a narrow tunnel, climbing down ladders with chain handrails to reach the bottom of Mooney Falls. Here all pause to gaze upward at the 200-foot tall waterfall before continuing to follow the trail north toward the Colorado River.
Beaver Falls is about 5.5 miles from the village. Here a series of blue-green waterfalls flow through the red rock canyon walls, creating a scene that only Mother Nature can fashion.
Three more miles down stream Havasu Creek enters the Colorado River. The contrast of the muddy river water mixing with the blue-green creek water creates a spectacular sight that is always photographed and never forgotten.
A lush riparian landscape follows along the entire length of Havasu Creek offering welcome shade over the many blue-green swimming holes. A wide variety of mammals, birds and fish make this Arizona paradise their homes and add to the enjoyment of this challenging adventure.
So if you are looking for something to do that is unique, challenging and guaranteed to create memories for a lifetime, why not get out, make a reservation with the Havasupai Tribe and hike those 8.5 miles along Havasu Creek. This is not a hike for a novice but all or parts of it can be completed by anyone in reasonable physical shape. And, when you come back to Anthem, you will have experienced one of the most beautiful natural journeys found anywhere in the world.
All photos belong to our friend, Emily Yagielo
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