Those hardy souls that made the trek around February 19 through 22, 2019 braved some serious weather. Two lane roads, as well as Interstate highways, shut down due to record breaking snow fall. Not one person recommended taking skis…..LOL!
If you have your own photo(s) to share, please follow over to the article for more info. We would love to add them to those we are receiving. Some will make it on the website!
This post focuses on Cold Weather Backpacking. This website may be geared more for a specific location. Sure, the Havasupai area is a specialized backpacking trip. But the general thoughts on this subject spans just about any backpacking trip where you might encounter temperatures below 30°F.
Feb 2019 saw weather that broke snowfall records around the area. Night time low temperatures dipped into the low teens (Fahrenheit). IR#18 [road between Old RT 66 and the Hilltop Trail Head parking area] was closed for several periods of time due to snow.
Even Interstate 40 between Kingman, AZ and Flagstaff, AZ was shut down due to snow. Some people reported Kingman getting 12 inches of snow. All stuff unheard of for the area. At least for periods of many years in between.
The point is…..be prepared!
Backpacking the Havasu Falls area this time of year, backpackers often experience cold weather. Especially the night time temperatures.
The past few days, and it appears for the coming week or so. The Havasu Falls area may experience night time temperatures dropping into the low teens (Fahrenheit). This is unusually cold. Day time highs will struggle to make it higher than the upper thirties. (Fahrenheit).
People in Las Vegas and closer area’s are reporting lower than normal temperatures. Las Vegas is looking at temperatures in the mid twenties (Fahrenheit) at night.
While these temperatures are “business as usual” for many winter backpackers. Such conditions for someone ill prepared or inexperienced, can really present some danger.
Such conditions require quality gear, high calorie foods & snacks, and the ability to stay dry and keep warm. This includes keeping your feet, hands, face, and head warm. Day and night!
It is advised you don’t start this trek taking a light-hearted approach. Not in these conditions. If you think your gear may be inadequate. It probably will be. Make sure you know what you are getting into. Make sure you know what you are doing. What might be a minor discomfort during normal weather, may have serious consequences if you are not prepared.
Know the signs of hypothermia. Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself or to those in your group you have a problem. If someone in your group is having symptoms. You need to help them. Get them warmed up. Even drinking warmed water will help. Check on people that complain they are cold.
If for some reason you fall in the water with your clothes on, during really cold temperatures. You need to get the wet clothes off. Get dry, and warm up as soon as possible.
In a group atmosphere encourage others to be open about voicing concerns they may be getting into trouble. Then act in such a fashion everyone is OK. Remember your gear might be better than the gear your co-backpackers have. That includes clothing and footwear. Don’t judge someone else on how comfortable you may feel.
If you feel you are in a situation that could go from bad to worse. Start hiking to your vehicle. Walk at a good pace to warm up and keep warm. Walk steady and don’t stop until you have made it safely to your vehicle. You can always return and do this trip another time.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia
Awake and Shivering
Possible increased urine production and mental confusion
Drowsy and not Shivering
Mental confusion, Slurred speech, loss of fine motor skills
Mental confusion, decreased or increased heart rate, decrease in breathing rate
No Vital Signs
NOTE: Paradoxical undressing: As a person becomes disoriented, confused, and combative. They may begin discarding their clothing. Further increasing body heat loss.
[9/28/2018] The below info has a status change. As of Friday September 28, 2018 the Narrows, Top Down permits are again being issued. An agreement was reached with a landowner, to resolve the conflict.
[9/25/2018] Reports started flowing in 9/25/2018 that Zion National Park has suspended issuing permits to the “Narrows” area, including the popular “Top-Down” trips.
This is due to a dispute over Private Property rights.
Day hiking from the Temple of Sinawava to Big Spring is open. Upstream travel beyond Big Spring is prohibited.
We haven’t heard what has triggered this. It is a reminder to respect the land, and the locals at all times, no matter where you travel. You never know what might make someone decide to no longer share.
Here is a Link to the official Zion NP website.
One of our contributors has provided a great write-up on Hidden Falls. Again we wish to thank Jessica Rose for her time. But alas we have been informed this area is Off Limits to visitors/tourists.
Those recommending a visit to this area are misinformed. We where given information that this particular Falls, and general side trail area is not marked on purpose . Visitors and tourists are not suppose to be in this area.
Brain Volk writes:
There is a reason that there aren’t signs marking this falls, and above it, on the trail, there are signs saying not to go there. The cliff and ground around it is unstable.
The Ramada (wooden structure) is rebuilt and used for ceremonies. Its not an area where tourists are supposed to go. We are not welcome to go off the main trail here.
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Note From Editor/Admin. The following trip report is a contribution from one of our readers and associated Facebook group membership.
As you may, or may not be aware of, the Havasu Falls/Supai, Arizona area was devastated by a Flash Flood on July 13, 2018. In some estimates there was in excess of $250,000.00 worth of damage to the village, the campgrounds and the trail.
The area was closed off to tourists, campers, and visitors while safety concerns were eliminated, and repairs were made.
The long anticipated reopening of the area was on September 1, 2018. We expected physical alterations to the natural beauty of the area. It has occurred in the past. This is an ever changing environment. We have been hoping someone would let us know what to expect.
In 2016 when we started creating our website, riding horses was very limited. The Official Havasupai Tribe website was not even showing pricing at one time.
Recently it was brought to our attention, this service is once again available. Info showing up on the Tribes Official Website.
We do caution, you may find old pricing posted at various sources on the internet. Especially on some tour groups that offer guide services.
We suggest you go to the only official source. That being the tribal website.
Tribal Council Passes Declaration of Disaster Resolution
The Havasupai Tribal Council passed a Declaration of Disaster (Resolution #39-18) declaring a state of emergency for the Havasupai Indian Reservation trails leading into Supai, Village in Northern Arizona. On July 11, 2018 several waves of flooding hit Supai village and Havasu Campgrounds. The storm caused catastrophic damage in the form of mud and rock slides to the Hualapai Hilltop trail, including the dislocation of large boulders which are blocking the only access for food, medical and mail supplies in and out of Supai Village. The United States Postal Service has temporarily ceased mail delivery by mule train to Supai (this is the last location in the US to be served in this manner). In addition, critical food and supplies are cut off to the Village except through helicopter.
The declaration states, due to flood levels and rock slides the main trail leading into Supai, Village has been declared dangerous and needs major repairs. Currently, Hilltop Trailhead is closed to all hikers and mule trains into the Village out of concern for the life, health, safety and well-being of the residents and animals in Supai.
“The unstable and dangerous conditions of the affected areas and our Tribe’s limited resources necessitate the need for federal assistance,” said Chairwoman Muriel Coochwytewa. “The Tribal Council, in consultation with The Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (AZ DEMA) and Coconino County Emergency Management, have determined that the cost of emergency repairs is expected to exceed $250,000. With our limited resources, we are unable to undertake this effort without federal assistance.”
An initial assessment by State and County Emergency Officials the disaster requires major remediation and recovery efforts. The Tribe is taking steps to qualify for disaster assistance from the United States.
According to Chairwoman Coochwytewa, the Tribe’s primary source of revenue is the tourists who travel from all over the world to experience the Reservation’s unique blue-green waterfalls. The closure of Tribe’s tourist economy will be devastating to the economic status and directly affect tribal members employed by the Tourism Department as well.
“The immediate and extended closure of Havasu Canyon will cause severe financial harm to the Havasupai Reservation and our Tribal members,” said Chairwoman Coochwytewa. “The trail from Hualapai Hilltop is unsafe and due to these conditions, will remain closed allowing the Tribe to ensure that the area is safe. The campgrounds and the lodge will re-open on September 1, 2018.”
Visitors with confirmed reservations at the campground or the lodge that are impacted by this closure are encouraged to contact the Tourist Office to reschedule, 928-448-2141. Please be patient as the Tourist Office works to accommodate all requests.
The flooding necessitated the activation of the Havasupai Tribal Emergency Response Team who initiated the relocation, housing, clothing, feeding and evacuation of all visitors. This was done at the Tribe’s own expense, totaling an estimated $25,000.
The Havasupai people reside primarily in Supai Village, remotely located in the bottom of a canyon in Northern Arizona adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park. At the time of the flood, it is estimated that 400 tribal members as well an additional 10-15 people who are contracted tribal or federal employees were in the area.
“The Tribe would like to thank all the agencies and individual tribal members that responded during the Emergency including the Havasupai Tourist Office staff, BIA-Law Enforcement, Supai Café/Store/Lodge staff, IHS-Indian Health Service, BIE-Bureau of Education, Papillion Helicopters, Airwest Helicopters, and DPS-Department of Public Safety, and the Hualapai Tribe,” said Chairwoman Coochwytewa.
The Tribe is currently accepting monetary donations. Donations can be made to the Havasupai 2018 Flood Relief Fund at www.HavasupaiReservations.com/donate.
Donations of supplies are also accepted and may be delivered to Hualapai Hilltop or the Tribe’s office in Flagstaff at 5200 E. Cortland Blvd, Ste. D-5, Flagstaff, AZ 86004.
We have not had an official Havasupai Media Release since the one shown below of July 13, 2018 4:06. We have noticed they have updated their official website to indicate the area is closed to visitors/tourist until at least the end of July 2018.
Click the link for the Official Havasupai Website
UPDATE Havasu Falls Flash Flood July 13, 2018 4:06 local
Havasupai Media Release:
Havasupai Tribe’s Quick Response Ensures All Visitors Safely Evacuated Following Flash Flood.
The nearly 200 visitors onsite at the campgrounds at Havasupai Falls were safely evacuated from the area by 6 pm Thursday, July 12, 2018. Thanks to the quick response from the Havasupai Tribal Council and the Havasupai Tourism Enterprise employees, there were no serious injuries or casualties reported.
Many had to evacuate without their packs. Grand Canyon Caverns provided food for those who were evacuated, along with showers and usage of the Cavern’s telephones.
There were two waves of flooding. About 7 feet of flood waters hit Supai shortly before dark on July 11, 2018. Brian Klimowski of the National Weather Service in Flagstaff contacted the tribe around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 with a flood advisory for the area.
The Tribal Council immediately activated the Tourist Office and Emergency Response Team, who promptly evacuated the campgrounds. There were 17 visitors on the opposite side of the flooded creek that were unable to leave the area immediately. They were able to safely evacuate the area at sunrise on July 12, after the water had receded.
The second wave of flooding occurred at approximately 3:30 am on July 12.
The Tribal Council opened up the Community Building and the elementary school for all visitors to sleep. In addition, the Tribe opened up the store and distributed food and supplies to the tourists.
The waves of flood waters did not hit Supai Village (approximately 1 ½ miles from the campground), but there is some significant flooding in several Tribal buildings due to the rain water. In addition, there are reports of debris, sinkholes and a bridge that has been compromised. This is throughout the Tribal Community (non-public areas).
The Arizona Department of Public Safety dispatched a field officer to Supai to assist Tribal leadership in assessing and evaluating the conditions. The Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (AZ DEMA) and Coconino County Emergency Management will also be assisting the Tribe in assessing and evaluating the conditions of the area.
Following these evaluations, the Tribal Council will determine if it qualifies for federal disaster relief designation and will consider at that time whether to apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
There are approximately 400 tribal members that live in Supai as well an additional 10-15 people who are contracted tribal or federal employees. Helicopter service is running as scheduled and anyone currently in Supai is able to leave via helicopter if they so choose.
Indian Route 18 remains closed to the public until further notice. Tribal members, law enforcement and emergency response teams will be able to travel via Indian Route 18.
The trail from Hilltop is unsafe and due to the conditions in Supai, the area remains closed to visitors until the Tribe repairs the damaged campgrounds and determines that the area is safe. Tourists with confirmed reservations should contact their travel agent or outfitter for more information. If your visit is directly impacted by this closure, you will have the option to reschedule your reservation, although specifics on the process are unavailable at this time.
The tourism office estimates that there are approximately 300 reservations that may be impacted by the closure.
Please DO NOT contact the Tribal Tourism Office at this time. All phone lines are being used for emergency services. Updated information regarding re-opening will posted on the Tribe’s website http://theofficialhavasupaitribe.com/.
Video at this link is courtesy of Tara Brewer