Lonely Planet Writer

Just back from: The Grand Canyon

At Supai Candace is all smiles as she arrives at Supai © Candace Driskell

Candace Driskell , National Accounts Manager at Lonely Planet, is just back from a three-day trek in the Grand Canyon.

Tell us more… Along with a group of friends, I set off for the Grand Canyon to embark on my first ever backpacking trip. We started our journey from the trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop and hiked eight miles to Supai – the only village within the Grand Canyon, and the capital of the Havasupai Reservation. After stopping in Supai for a much needed cold soda, we trekked another two miles to the Havasu Campground. Space at the campground is so limited that my friend called 220 times to get a reservation before she got through (thanks Kara!).

In a nutshell… Supai and the surrounding Havasupai Reservation are not accessible by road – options for getting to this area are mule, helicopter or your own two feet. But once you get there, you are rewarded with the most beautiful swimming holes and waterfalls imaginable. On a typical three-day itinerary you spend one day hiking into the reservation, one day exploring the waterfalls along Havasu Creek and the third day hiking back out.

Havasu Falls The waterfalls at Havasu Creek © Candace Driskell

Fave activity? To get to Mooney Falls, arguably the most impressive of the waterfalls, we embarked on a short but terrifying hike down a steep canyon wall. Chains are mounted into the rock to make it easier, but it was still pretty treacherous – whilst being a lot of fun!

Defining moment… I’m not much of a daredevil but even I couldn’t resist jumping from the (admittedly not very high) cascades at Beaver Falls.

Good grub? I’m usually all about the food when I travel, but when you’re carrying all your food on your back, fine dining isn’t really an option. We relied on dehydrated backpacker meals and other tried-and-tested hiking staples such as trail mix and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After the tough hike back out of the canyon, we were delighted to find cold drinks and hot tamales for sale at Hualapai Hilltop.

Mules Mules have right of way in the Grand Canyon © Candace Driskell

You’d be a muppet to miss… the hike into the canyon. Getting there by helicopter is an option, but the trail is stunning and it would be a shame not to hike at least one way. Plus, you have the unique experience of yielding to the mules that still carry mail and other supplies into the village.

Quintessential experience? Honestly, the whole trip was quite an experience. Havasupai is an area that is constantly asking you to prove yourself. Are you willing to call 220 times to get a reservation? Will you hike 10 miles to get here? And then hike 10 miles out again (this time uphill)? Will you risk life and limb to see the stunning Mooney Falls? It’s not the most relaxing trip, but it is incredibly rewarding.