The best Wild West trails and a supported trek to the bed of the Grand Canyon.
*- Bryce, Zion, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley and Arches - the great parks of the American Southwest
*- Trek down to the bed of the Grand Canyon, for a two night lodge stay
*- Explore Navajo and Hopi Indian tribal lands in the company of native guides
*- Enjoy the bright lights and razzmatazz of Las Vegas
Featuring a supported trek to the Grand Canyon, this memorable holiday is perhaps the ultimate way to experience the stunning desert scenery of America's southwest. From national parks to native American reservations and two days hiking in the Grand Canyon itself, this trip offers a complete Wild West adventure.
On this Grand Canyon trekking holiday, as well as great full and half-day walks in the Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks we follow in the bootsteps of John Wayne as we walk amongst the rock monoliths of Monument Valley and explore the tribal lands of the Navajo and Hopi Indians in the company of native guides. Heading west we experience the Grand Canyon from top to bottom, from the first sight of this breathtaking work of nature to a supported trek on the Grand Canyon floor. Here we spend two nights in a lodge and explore the rushing waters and waterfalls that lead to the Colorado River before rejoining the 21st Century with a final drive along Route 66, back to Las Vegas.
Over the years, many members of the Mountain Kingdoms team have enjoyed adventures in the great outdoors of America, from climbing in Yosemite to trekking and rafting through the Grand Canyon - as nature's great playground, the National Parks of the South Western States are hard to beat. They offer some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery anywhere in the world and we're delighted to make its plunging canyons, intricate rock spires, towering, cliffs and sparkling waterfalls the focus of this outstanding trekking holiday.
Building upon the personal experience of our office team, we have designed what we think is the very best combination of trekking and sightseeing. Apart from the days when you fly in and out of Las Vegas you will be walking on every day of the trip.
Call Mountain Kingdoms on 01453 844 400 to book the perfect Grand Canyon trekking holiday.
➕ Day 1 - FLY LONDON TO LAS VEGAS
Fly London to Las Vegas. Transfer to overnight hotel. Flight schedules permitting there may be time tonight to experience the extravagant spectacle of 'The Strip'.
Overnight: La Quinta Inn, Las Vegas
➕ Day 2 - DRIVE TO ZION NATIONAL PARK (3 hours) AFTERNOON WALK TO EMERALD POOLS (3 miles/4.85km & 570ft/175m ascent)
You leave Las Vegas after breakfast and make the drive northwards to Zion National Park, reached after approximately 3 hours. En-route you'll pass out of Nevada and into the State of Utah, home to some of the most spectacular natural scenery in the United States.
Named after the homestead of an early settler, Zion is a small, but amazingly diverse national park. The multi-coloured rocks of the main canyon complement the colours of the rich vegetation and rushing waters of streams, pools and waterfalls. Mountain lion, golden eagles and a host of smaller 'critters' may be found in the park, which offers some great short and full day walks. After perhaps a look round the Visitor Centre, you'll take your first walk of the trip, up away from the valley floor to the Emerald Pools. Passing through a shaded forest of oak, maple and fir you will reach in turn a small waterfall, a hanging garden, and then a series of pools set at different levels on the canyon walls. The trail is well graded throughout and makes for an excellent introduction to the hikes to come.
Overnight: Holiday Inn Express Springdale, Zion Park
➕ Day 3 - ZION NATIONAL PARK, DAY WALK TO OBSERVATION POINT (8 miles/12.9km & 2,148ft/655m ascent)
The first full day walk of the trip takes you up, away from the floor of Zion canyon to the eastern plateau above. The first part of the trail follows a short interpretive trail to Weeping Rock - a rocky alcove with a dripping spring above and overhung with ferns and wildflowers. Relatively few visitors venture past this point as the trail steepens and continues to climb, however it's a good path underfoot, having been cut, pitched and paved in the 1930s. A mile and a half from the trailhead a path forks southwards along Hidden Canyon but you continue northwards to reach Echo Canyon. The steep ascent ends as you enter Echo Canyon, an impressive narrow slot canyon with a sandy floor which you follow a short way, with walls of almost white rock towering above. Ahead, the skyline is dominated by Cable Mountain.
The trail leads you away from Echo Canyon and steepens again as you ascend towards the promontory of Mount Baldy, giving all round views. The final A? of a mile is over rougher ground but still straightforward, leading you to Observation Point itself. This viewpoint is perhaps one of the best in the park, giving you a sweeping vista of Zion Canyon below, and across to features including Angels' Landing, Cathedral Mountain, the Three Patriarch's and to the south the jagged outcrop known as the Watchman. You return to the valley via the outward route.
As with a number of National Parks in the US, a free public shuttle bus service operates within Zion, stopping at all the main trailheads and points of interest. The shuttle reduces the need for visitors to use their cars and thereby cuts down on both congestion and pollution. When you return to the valley floor you can use the shuttle bus to either return to your hotel or, energy permitting, to see some other areas of the park, e.g. The Court of the Patriarchs; a walk along the Virgin River, or the Narrows, a twisting, narrow canyon and one of Zion's most photographed natural features.
Overnight: Holiday Inn Express Springdale, Zion Park
➕ Day 4 - DRIVE TO BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK (2 hours) DAY WALK: FAIRYLAND LOOP (9 miles/2,444m & 950 ft/290 m ascent)
After breakfast you board your transport and make the 85 mile drive eastwards to Bryce Canyon National Park. The first leg of your journey, to Mt Carmel Junction, follows what many consider to be one of the most scenic of all American roads bordered, as it is, by cascades of multi-coloured slick-rock. Along the way you will pass through a mile long tunnel, which at the time of its construction in the 1900s was considered an engineering marvel.
Also look out for the unusual 'Checkerboard Mesa', a large sandstone outcrop with, cross-hatched by windblown sand (horizontal grooves) and the effect of freeze-thaw on the natural vertical joints.
Although smaller and less well known than parks such as Yosemite, or Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon is a firm favourite with those who have visited; it is often the one people name if asked which park they would most like to return to. Although it boasts a great diversity of flora and fauna, the park covers three climate/vegetation zones and is home to over 100 species of bird, dozens of mammals, and more than a thousand plant species - it is Bryce's 'Hoodoos' that make it so unique, a 'Hoodoo' being a rock spire formed by the action of ice and rain on the limestone rock which typifies the area. The 'Hoodoos' come in a wide variety of red, pink, yellow and even purple hues, caused by the oxidisation of iron and manganese within the rock itself.
The Fairyland Loop trail starts at 2,444m / 8,018ft and is a fantastic way to explore Bryce, taking you down 900 feet from the rim, away from the crowds and in touching distance of the colourful hoodoos. The walk can be done in either direction, but most commonly takes the clockwise route. Setting out from Fairyland Point you begin your steady descent into the canyon. The trail rises and falls as you pass through Fairyland Canyon into Campbell Canyon. Eventually you reach the lowest point which is marked by the surprising sight of a hoodoo shaped just like 'Tower Bridge'. From here you slowly climb back to the rim past the striking feature known as the 'Chinese Wall'. A 2.7 mile walk along the rim trail takes you back to the trailhead.
The colours of Bryce Canyon are perhaps best experienced in the late afternoon, or early morning light. So depending upon when you finish your hike, you may well pay a visit to one or more of the Park's classic viewpoints, e.g. Inspiration Point or Sunset point.
Overnight: Best Western Plus Ruby's Inn, Bryce
➕ Day 5 - DRIVE TO MOAB (5-6 hours). SHORT WALK IN CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK
Today's road journey is the longest of the entire trip, with around 5-6 hours of driving. As you might imagine there's plenty of scenic interest along the way and your leader will be careful to break up the travelling with rest and refreshment stops.
You are now entering cowboy country; Butch Cassidy's boyhood home lies less than 50 miles north of Bryce, and as you travel east the landscape of snow-capped mountains, extensive prairies and red rock canyons will probably look quite familiar from any number of movies. Modern day cowboys still work the land in this region, although you will probably see more in pick-up trucks than on horseback. After passing over the San Rafael Desert you turn off the highway for a short walk in Canyonlands National Park. Carved by the Colorado and Green Rivers, Canyonlands' primary features are its spectacular gorges, which naturally create three distinctive areas. The Island in the Sky, where you will walk, lies to the north of the Park and overlooks more than 10,000 square miles of rugged wilderness. The Maze District is most readily accessed by raft/boat along the Green River a method used by the region's foremost explorer John Wesley-Powell in the mid-19th Century. The Needles District in the Park's south-east corner features a range of multi-coloured rock spires similar in appearance to those seen at Bryce.
Depending on the time taken to reach Canyonlands, there should be time to walk along either or both the Grand View Trail (2 miles), or the Upheaval Dome Overlook Trail (1 mile). After your leg stretch, it's around a 30 mile drive to reach your base for the next two nights at Moab. The town of Moab is Utah's self-styled adventure capital. Long the home of Sabuagana Ute Indians, the first permanent settlement here was made by Mormon farmers between 1878 and 1879. Today the area remains a rich producer of peaches, apples and grapes. In the 1950s Moab boomed with the development of Uranium mines, followed by the discovery of oil and the extraction of Potash in the 1960s. With the decline of these industries in the late 1960s, tourism has become Moab's most high profile 'industry'. The fabulous natural scenery draws visitors from across the USA and beyond: the former mining roads are popular with off-road drivers, the rivers offer exhilarating white water rafting, while the slick-rock presents challenging routes for rock climbers and mountain bikers alike.
Moab has a relaxed atmosphere and a good selection of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. After checking in to your hotel and freshening up it's just a short walk to find a pleasant spot for a cool drink and dinner.
Overnight: Aarchway Inn, Moab
➕ Day 6 - WALKING IN ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, INCLUDING DEVIL's GARDEN (7.2miles/11.6km & approx 50ft/15m of ascent) DELICATE ARCH (3 miles/4.8 km & 480ft/146 m of ascent)
Just five miles north of Moab is Arches National Park, which although it boasts over 2,000 arches, really is much more than just a collection of arches. The park lies above a bed of salt, which was deposited on the Colorado Plateau around 300 million years ago, following the evaporation of a former sea. Subsequent centuries saw this salt bed overlain with a variety of deposits which became compressed into layers of rock. Eventually, the pressure of this overlying rock caused the salt layer to shift and buckle, leading in turn to a series of up-thrusts and subsidence. Relatively recently, in geological terms, this landscape has become scoured by natural forces such as wind, ice, water and heat to create an area of spires, arches, sandstone fins and steep buttresses.
Today you will take a series of short walks, taking you to some of Arches most famous features, such as Balanced Rock, The Windows and Double Arch. You will also take two longer hikes. From the northern end of the Park you trek into Devil's Garden, which contains the dramatic Landscape Arch. With its span of over 60ft, this arch is evidence of the continuing processes of erosion. In 1995 two large sections of rock fell away from the Arch, making it even more slender and sinuous. Most visitors to Devil's Garden head straight back to the trailhead from this point but you will pick up a 'primitive' trail which leads you deeper into the 'back country'. Although mainly a sandy path, this trail also leads you up, over and along a number of the sandstone fins. Your ultimate goal is Double O Arch, offering some great photo opportunities.
Your second hike today will take you to the state symbol for Utah 'Delicate Arch'. The route is almost entirely over bare rock and involves a gradual ascent from a stream bed up onto a broad sandstone dome. Although the walk entails a relatively modest ascent it can be tough going in the heat of the day, so your guide will probably start, or end the day with this hike. The final section of the walk involves a short stretch of approx. 1,200ft (350m), along a ledge path cut into the rock. This path slopes into the rock you're traversing and is a good 3-4ft wide throughout, so really presents no problem. The arch itself is hidden until the last moment you arrive just above the rocky bowl in which it stands.
Overnight: Aarchway Inn, Moab
➕ Day 7 - WALK IN MONUMENT VALLEY (3.2miles/5.15 kms, negligible ascent) DRIVE TO CANYON DE CHELLY NATIONAL MONUMENT (4-5 hours)
You make an early start today for the journey to Canyon de Chelly. Non-stop this road trip would probably take you around four hours, but along the way is one of North America's 'must see' sights; the iconic Monument Valley. Belonging to the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley covers an area of nearly 100,000 acres and straddles the Utah and Arizona boundary. In 1938 the beauty and drama of the freestanding rock spires, buttes and mesas drew film-maker John Ford here and 'Stagecoach' became the first of countless movies made here since. It is a couple of hours drive to reach Monument Valley, where you will be able to stretch your legs on a short three mile walk out to one of the most prominent features of the valley, The East Mitten. For those that wish, an optional 4WD excursion around the main attractions of the valley is possible instead of the walk (USD$35-50 per person, payable locally).
You are now in the heart of Native American Indian territory and as you drive southwards you pass a mixture of isolated homesteads and small settlements. Altogether the Navajo Reservation has a population of around 90,000, whilst the smaller, neighbouring Hopi Reservation stands at around 11,000. Today tourism is an important part of the local economy with traditional crafts such as weaving and jewellery-making much in evidence. Traditional values and beliefs also remain strongly held, many enshrined in tribal law. Alcohol is prohibited on Navajo and Hopi lands (including in restaurants and hotels) and permission should always be sought before attempting to take photographs of people or their homes. The Visitor Centre in Monument Valley features regular exhibitions of Navajo life, art and history.
Leaving Monument Valley you drive southwards through the Arizona desert for a couple of hours to arrive at the small town of Chinle. Here you will check into your hotel for the next two nights, close to the entrance to Canyon de Chelly National Monument.
Overnight: Holiday Inn Canyon De Chelly, Chinle
➕ Day 8 - CANYON DE CHELLY DAY WALK (Approx.10-12miles/16-19km & approx 1,000ft/305m of descent). SCENIC DRIVE
The labyrinth-like Canyon de Chelly (pronounced 'shay') is actually formed of several canyons, which extend from the outskirts of Chinle. At the mouth of the canyon the rock walls stand some 30 feet high but as you head east into the main canyon, these walls become 1,000 foot high towering cliffs. Archaeologists have established that this area has been continuously inhabited for around 5,000 years and the canyon is one of the most important ancient sites in the US. The original settlers here were hunter gatherers, who camped on the canyon floor but over time the natural caves and ledges of the canyon became the preferred places for dwellings, offering natural shelter and protection. In the last 2,000 years Pueblan Indians have been succeeded by Hopi and then Navajo tribes. Today the canyon floor is still farmed by a few Navajo families, some living in hogans - a traditional, octagonal dwelling made of timber. Alfalfa, corn and fruit are grown in the fertile soil and sheep are grazed in the shade of the canyon walls.
Today you make an exploration of Canyon de Chelly on foot, in the company of a local Navajo guide. Apart from one very short trail to a view point on the canyon rim, there are no way-marked trails in Canyon de Chelly. Your Navajo guide will therefore take you on a route used primarily by canyon dwellers over many, many centuries. Over the first hour or so you can expect to be walking upon the bare sandstone rock - following the natural curves of the rock and dried up water courses. In places you'll descend steps, cut by the Navajo, and reach vantage points that reveal some of the well camouflaged cliff dwellings. Upon reaching the sandy canyon floor your trek will take you to see further cliff dwellings and occasional petroglyphs of animals and people, telling the story of day to day life in times past. The chances are your guide will have lived in the canyon at some point in his life and along the way you'll be able to find out more from him about Navajo life, past and present.
Your trek will end at the visitor centre, at the mouth of the canyon, after around five hours of walking. There is an interesting interpretive display, film and bookshop here. Before returning to your hotel you will make the return drive along the south rim of the canyon, to Spider Rock Overlook. There are a couple of scenic viewpoints along the way, which are well worth taking in as the sun begins to set. Spider Rock is an 800 foot sandstone spire that stands proud of the canyon floor at the junction of Monument Canyon and Canyon de Chelly itself.
Overnight: Holiday Inn Canyon De Chelly, Chinle
➕ Day 9 - EXPLORING HOPI MESAS & DRIVE TO GRAND CANYON (5 hours)
Your discovery of Native American heritage and culture continues today as you head west through the Hopi Reservation. The Hopi is Arizona's oldest tribe, first arriving in the region around 1,200 AD and making their home on three mesas (hill tops) which they have continuously inhabited ever since. Known for their strong religious beliefs, many Hopi still observe a cycle of ceremonies which follow the lunar calendar including the Spring Bean Planting Ceremony and the Home Dance Ceremony of the summer.
A couple of hours drive from Chinle brings you to First Mesa and the small villages of Sichomovi and neighbouring Walpi, which is thought to be the oldest of all the Hopi settlements. In the village hall of Sichomovi, you'll meet a local Hopi resident and together make a walking tour of Walpi. Few Hopi live in Walpi all year round now - the village perches quite precariously some 300 feet above the valley floor and is without running water, but one or two hardy souls remain. A number of ceremonial kivas are carefully maintained and some of the older homes are now being renovated for seasonal use. As well as learning about the life and traditions of the Hopi people you'll doubtless have the chance to purchase some of the traditional handicrafts, including carved Kachina dolls, which represent the life giving spirits revered by the Hopi. A short drive on from Walpi brings you to Second Mesa. You will probably have lunch here and then visit the Hopi Cultural Centre which houses a small museum. From Second Mesa it's around a three hour drive west, crossing the Little Colorado River to reach the eastern entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, at Desert View.
The first sight of the Grand Canyon is one likely never forgotten. The travel writer Pete McCarthy once declared it the one place on the planet that actually managed not just to live up to all of the associated hyperbole, but to actually exceed it. The scale of the canyon is simply immense. Over a mile deep, 10 or more miles across and 227 river miles long. There is a watchtower at Desert View from which you will be able to take in your first view of the canyon and capture the first of no doubt countless photographs. From Desert View the road follows the south rim of the Canyon, with occasional lay-bys, offering further views into the canyon. Just before Grand Canyon Village which has a collection of visitor services including bookshops, gift shops etc, you turn south to reach the small town of Tusayan, at the south entrance to the National Park. Tusayan is the main lodging area serving the Grand Canyon with a range of hotels and restaurants for visitors. It's just a stone's throw from the park entrance and less than 10 minutes' drive from the south rim itself.
Overnight: Red Feather Lodge or Similar, Grand Canyon
➕ Day 10 - GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK. DAY WALK TO PLATEAU POINT (12.4miles/19.7km & 3,120ft/951m of ascent and descent)
During sunrise and sunset when the canyon walls take on fantastic rich, deep hues of red and gold is one of the best times to view the canyon and this morning, for those that wish, the day begins with a sunrise viewing. One advantage of seeing the sun rise over the canyon is the clarity of the views. Daytime temperatures rise so the longer distance views can become obscured by haze and air pollution. In order to play their part in reducing air pollution the National Park Service operate a shuttle bus service to help limit the number of cars on the rim-side roads. Although you will use your usual transport to enter and leave the park during your stay it is likely that you will use the park shuttle service to get to and from the trailheads.
Today you take a guided walk down into the canyon, along one of the most celebrated paths; The Bright Angel Trail, named after the geological fault it follows through the limestone cliffs. Few visitors who visit the canyon ever actually descend below the rim and even those who do often don't tread more than a short distance. Certainly, once you have passed the first of two rest-houses (toilet blocks) on this trail, you are likely to be well away from any crowds. The first part of the walk takes you steeply down on a series of tight zigzags. The path is good, but stony underfoot and you may need to occasionally keep to one side (the uphill/cliff side) to allow the mules that take supplies and visitors in and out of the canyon, to pass. After around 6 miles of walking and a descent of another series of zigzags known as 'Jacob's Ladder', the trail becomes less steep and you reach a broad plateau - formed from the curiously named Tonto strata of rock. A further mile and a half then brings you to a welcome shaded 'oasis', Indian Garden. The spring here was used by the Havasupai Indians who once farmed this area, although the cottonwood trees were specifically planted to offer visitors shade in the early 1900s. If you wish you can rest at Indian Garden whilst, the more energetic continue on for a further one and a half miles to reach Plateau Point, a viewpoint overlooking the Colorado River, a further 1,400ft below.
The rule of thumb, promoted by the National Park, is that walkers should expect it to take twice as long to hike up out of the canyon, as it does to hike down. Although keen walkers might find this quite a conservative estimate, it is an ascent of over 3,000ft to regain the crest of the south rim from Plateau Point so it's important to allow plenty of time for the hike out.
Before heading back to your hotel for the night, there should be time to pay a visit to Kolb Studio, located near the Bright Angel trail head. The Kolb brothers, Emery and Ellsworth, built their home, photographic studio and laboratory, right on the canyon edge in 1904. In 1912 the brothers found fame by making the first cine-film of a descent of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, rapids and all. Emery Kolb showed the movie at the studio every day from 1915 until his death in 1976. Today the studio houses a bookshop and a rolling programme of photographic exhibitions.
Overnight: Red Feather Lodge or Similar, Grand Canyon
➕ Day 11 - GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK. WALK ALONG WEST RIM TRAIL (Up to 8 miles/12.9km, negligible ascent/descent) DRIVE TO HUALAPAI RESERVATION (2.5 hours)
This morning there's a further opportunity to watch the sun rise on the South Rim and then time to hike along the canyon rim to Hermit's Rest. From Grand Canyon Village the eight mile 'West Rim Trail' leads along the canyon edge to Hermit's Rest, taking in four major viewpoints along the way: Maricopa Point, Hopi Point, Mohave Point and Pima Point. Each of these viewing areas offers great views into the canyon but the best is saved 'till last, with Hermit's Rest offering what many consider the finest of all views in the Park. The small stone building at Hermit's Rest was built by renowned local architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter in 1914, as a rest stop for stagecoach passengers taking tours along the West Rim. Colter was responsible for the design of a number of the Grand Canyon's landmark buildings, including the Watchtower seen when you entered the Park, and the Bright Angel Hotel.
You return to Grand Canyon Village using the shuttle bus, before leaving the National Park to drive 60 miles south to the town of Williams. Turning west onto Route 66, you then drive a further 60 miles west, through Seligman to reach your overnight halt at Hualapai Lodge. This section of Route 66 is part of the longest remaining continuous stretch of the original highway that led from Chicago to Los Angeles. Originally opened in 1926, Route 66 became seen as the route to prosperity for the many tens of thousands of people who travelled west during the Great Depression. In his classic novel 'The Grapes of Wrath', John Steinbeck referred to Route 66 as America's 'Mother Road' and this, along with the later film of the book, immortalised Route 66 in American history and culture. Although most traffic now follows the newer interstate highways built in 1980s, evidence of Route 66 former glory remains thanks to the efforts of enthusiasts and local historical groups. Watch out for classic finned vehicles, diners, motels and gas stations along the way.
You arrive at your lodge with time to organise your trekking equipment for your next three days and two nights on the trail in the Grand Canyon.
Overnight: Hualapai Lodge or Similar, Grand Canyon
➕ Day 12 - TREK FROM HUALAPAI HILLTOP TO SUPAI IN THE GRAND CANYON (8 miles/12.9km & 2,000ft/610m of descent)
You should have an early breakfast this morning before boarding your transport for the hour or so drive north to the Grand Canyon rim at Hualapai Hilltop, in the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Hualapai Hilltop is the end of the tarmac road and the head of the trail which leads down into the canyon and on to the Native American village of Supai. Apart from helicopter, Supai is only accessible on foot or by mule/horse, so before setting off your guide will arrange for transportation of the group's supplies and luggage. You should only take what you will need for the next three days, your remaining luggage can be left in your vehicle.
As for your trek along the Bright Angel Trail, the first part of your trek is on a series of switchbacks, taking you relatively steeply down for 1,500ft. The path is rocky underfoot but well graded. A neckerchief or scarf is a handy means of avoiding the worst of the dust kicked up by passing mules or horses. After around 45 minutes of descent the trail levels out and a short distance beyond you reach the bed of the canyon. You'll then trek northwards into the increasingly narrow high-walled canyon, along the stony floor. The cliffs and occasional rocky outcrops provide welcome shade but there are no springs en route so you'll need to ensure you have plenty of water. Approximately three hours after setting off from Hualapai Hilltop you'll reach a junction with another canyon and a sign pointing you to Supai village a further 20-30 minutes' walk away.
Supai is inhabited by around 450 members of the Havasu Baaja tribe. Prior to the creation of Indian Reservation, in 1882, the Havasu Baaja lived predominantly on the canyon rim, hunting and gathering crops, spending spring and summer months tending crops grown on the canyon floor - as seen at Canyon de Chelly earlier in your trip. However when the reservation was created the tribe 'lost' 90% of their original land, as the US government of the day confined the tribe to an area of 518 acres on the canyon floor. In 1975 the US Congress returned 185,000 acres to the Havasu Baaja but tourism is now firmly established as the primary employment, with people working in the lodge, village store and cafe, or organising pack mules in and out of the canyon.
Supai itself is quite spread out and most of the houses are relatively modern: the village having been all but destroyed by a '500 year flood' in 1990. At the centre of the village is an open 'square' bounded by a cafe, post office, general store and school. Your base for the next two nights is the Supai Lodge, owned and run by the Havasu Baaja tribe, and located beyond the school on the edge of the village.
This afternoon there's time to relax in and around the village or perhaps wander downstream to the beautiful blue-green cascades of Navajo Falls (approximately one and a half miles). Your guide will organise a cook-out dinner for you tonight, either at the lodge or along by the river.
Overnight: Havasupai Lodge or Similar, Grand Canyon
➕ Day 13 - TREK TO HAVASU & MOONEY FALLS (Up to 10 miles/16km & 850ft/260m of ascent and descent)
There's time for a lie in today and a leisurely breakfast at the village cafe before heading off to explore the canyon. Two miles downstream from Supai is the Havasu Falls, a dramatic plunging 100 foot waterfall that tumbles into a large turquoise pool below. The water temperature of the river and waterfall pools remains fairly constant at around 70AdegF (21AdegC) all year round and Havasu Falls is a popular place for a swim. A short distance beyond the falls is the Supai campground and, depending upon the time of year, you're likely to see tents and bivvi bags scattered along the shaded banks of the river.
A further mile from Havasu Falls the canyon steepens again at Mooney Falls, higher than Havasupai at over 200 feet and very dramatic. It's quite a scramble down and then up to the base of the falls, with steep rock cut steps and a couple of 'tunnels' in the rock to crawl through and chains on steeper sections - not for those with vertigo. This section of the path requires care and as we cannot provide a formally guided, roped up, service you should not undertake this part of the route unless you are a confident walker used to scrambling ascents/descents. Two miles beyond Mooney Falls lies Beaver Falls and beyond them, still further the Colorado River. However, as it is a 16 mile round trip to the Colorado River and back over rough, steep ground it's not recommended to walk to the river and back in one day. Even at the most temperate times of year it gets hotter as you descend to the lowest elevations and then you're faced with the long climb back out up the hottest part of the day. This afternoon you will be able to find a tranquil, shaded spot to read, or simply relax.
Overnight: Havasupai Lodge or Similar, Grand Canyon
➕ Day 14 - TREK OUT OF GRAND CANYON (8 miles/12.9km & 2,000ft/610m of ascent) DRIVE TO LAS VEGAS (4-5 hours)
It's another early start this morning as you retrace your steps from Supai village back out of the canyon to Hualapai Hilltop. It takes a while for the sun to penetrate the narrower sections of the canyon so you should be able to enjoy cooler temperatures for much of the way. The toughest section is likely to be the last when you climb the last 1,500ft on the steeper zig-zag path, however a slow steady pace will see you at the canyon rim in good time. After one final look into the canyon, it's time to head off for the drive back to 'civilisation.' From Hualapai it's around a four hour drive to reach Las Vegas.
The contrast between Las Vegas and just about anywhere else you have visited or stayed on this trip could hardly be greater and, whilst it may not be high on your holiday 'hit list', a visit to the 'Strip' is an experience not to be missed. Since the 1980s, hotel and casino companies have been engaged in an increasingly garish and outrageous game of 'anything you can do we can do better.' In addition to the Pyramid and Sphinx of the Luxor Hotel, there's the mini city-scape of New York New York (complete with Statue of Liberty) along the road there's the Paris Hotel, the opulent Bellagio, celebrated Caesar's Palace and across the street the Venetian - complete with gondolas to deliver you from the pavement to check in or the ubiquitous shopping mall. When the sun goes down the entire strip is a cascade of neon and laser light shows, giving you a final night to remember.
Overnight: La Quinta Inn, Las Vegas
➕ Day 15 - FLY TO LONDON
Flight schedule permitting there may be time this morning for some last minute souvenir shopping before transferring to Las Vegas airport for your return flight to the UK.
Overnight: In Flight
➕ Day 16 - Fly Las Vegas To London
Today you will arrive back in the UK.