Havasu falls are off limits to river rafters during COVID lockdown, Havasupai Tribe says

Havasu falls are off limits to river rafters during COVID lockdown, Havasupai Tribe says

Arizona’s Havasupai Falls have been closed to tourists since March 16 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the Havasupai Tribe issued another statement to potential visitors last week: Rafters may not enter tribal land or approach the waterfalls from the Colorado River either.

Backpackers and campers who visit the famous falls enter from the top of the canyon, hiking 8 miles down to the town of Supai and then several miles more to reach to the turquoise falls. River rafters hike up to the falls from the Colorado River.

Tribe chairwoman Evangeline Kissoon said in a statement released June 22: “Notice is hereby given that the Havasupai Reservation, including the Havasupai Tribe’s Traditional Use Lands, are closed to Grand Canyon river guides and tourists.”

There are no COVID-19 cases on the Havasupai Reservation and the tribe is on “strict lockdown protocol” to prevent the spread of disease.

'Boats cannot dock at the confluence'

Because of the pandemic, commercial and private rafting trips through the Grand Canyon were halted until June 14. The confluence of the Colorado River and Havasu Creek is a popular spot for boats to dock on the journey so rafters can hike up to Beaver Falls, about 4 miles from the Colorado River where the official boundary of the Havasupai Reservation starts.

In her statement Kissoon said that "river boats cannot dock at the confluence" of the Colorado River and Havasu Creek, which is technically managed by the National Park Service but considered a permanent traditional use area by the tribe.

Beaver Falls has a series of blue-green waterfalls and is a popular attraction for visitors with permits to Havasupai.

The statement generated some controversy on social media among river runners who pointed out that Beaver Falls is about 6 miles away from Supai, but most rafters understand that tribe members want to protect themselves from COVID-19, said Tom Martin, a Flagstaff, Arizona, resident who is a moderator of the Facebook group Rafting Grand Canyon and long-time river runner.

“To tell river runners we don’t even want you stopping here, it makes perfect sense. I absolutely get it,” Martin said. “What they’re asking for is a buffer around the reservation that includes their traditional use land.”

Grand Canyon's guidance contradicts the tribe's

On June 23, Jan Balsom, senior adviser for stewardship and tribal programs at Grand Canyon National Park, sent an email to river guides and permit holders clarifying the park’s position.

She wrote that the park's leadership talked with Kissoon about the tribe’s notice and Kissoon asked park managers to convey that “the tribe has stationed law enforcement rangers at the boundary between the reservation and the park, and will strictly enforce any attempts to violate the closure order by accessing the reservation.”

But contrary to the notice from the tribe, Balsom wrote that “day use of the portion of Havasu Creek within the park, from the confluence of the Colorado River to Beaver Falls, is allowed.”

Martin supports the tribe’s wishes and hope visitors follow the requests.

“I greatly admire the tribe for saying: 'We’re closed. We don’t want to make it work for outsiders because we don’t want to die',” Martin said.

The view from the top of Mooney Falls, about a mile from the Havasupai campground. Hikers go through a tunnel carved into the rocks, then down a set of chains and ladders to reach the bottom.

Reach the reporter at Shaena.Montanari@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @DrShaena.

Support local journalism.Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2020/06/28/havasu-falls-closed-colorado-river-rafters-covid-havasupai-tribe-says/3275721001/

News Related


Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »