SUPAI, Ariz. — SUPAI, Ariz. (AP) —
Tourists hoping to see world-famous waterfalls on the Havasupai tribal reservation in northern Arizona have gone through harrowing flood evacuations.
The official Havasupai Tribe tourism Facebook page reported Friday that floodwaters had washed away a bridge into the camp. An unknown number of campers were evacuated to Supai Village and some were rescued by helicopter.
The camp is in a lower area than the village of Supai. Some hikers had to camp in the village. Others unable to reach the village due to high water were forced to camp overnight on a trail.
But the floodwaters began to recede as of Saturday morning, according to the tribe’s Facebook post.
Visitors with the proper permits will be able to walk to the village and camp. They will meet tribal guides who will help them navigate the waters of the creek on a back trail to reach the camp.
Tourists will not be able to take pictures. The return path passes through sites considered sacred by the tribe.
Meanwhile, the tribe said in its statement that it has “all hands on deck” to build a new temporary bridge to the camp.
Abbie Fink, a spokeswoman for the tribe, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Saturday.
From Supai to Sedona, several areas of northern Arizona have been hit by storms this week. The resulting snow, combined with snowmelt at higher elevations, has wreaked havoc on highways, driveways, and even city streets.
The Havasupai Campground flooding comes as the tribe reopened access last month to its reservation and several majestic teal waterfalls for the first time since March 2020. The tribe opted to close to protect its members from the coronavirus. Officials then decided to extend the closure until last year’s tourist season.
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration initiated by the Havasupai tribe, freeing up funds for flood damage suffered in October. Flooding at the time destroyed several bridges and left downed trees on trails needed for tourists and goods transport to Supai Village.
Permits to visit are highly coveted. Before the pandemic, the tribe had 30,000 to 40,000 visitors a year to their reservation deep in a gorge west of Grand Canyon National Park. The area can only be reached on foot or by helicopter, or by horseback or mule. Visitors can camp or stay in a lodge.