Havasupai Falls to receive federal funds due to storm damage

HAVASUPAI FALLS, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - After nearly three years without visitors, the Havasupai Falls in northern Arizona will soon welcome people back. But it may look a little different this time because of a storm that slammed through the area. Now President Biden is stepping in to help fix it up.

This beautiful place in our state is known for its clear blue-green waterfalls, but back in October, the tribal council declared a state of emergency due to severe flooding. Now money from the feds will help them get back to normal as thousands prepare to visit in less than a month.

Daniel Macias and many others planned to hike Havasupai Falls nearly three years ago. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism was put to a halt. “That was back in 2020 we bought our tickets,” Macias said. “Then they pushed it to 21, then 22 and here we are 2023 and we’re finally going to be able to go, fingers crossed.”

Come Feb. 1, current permit holders will be allowed back in. The majestic spot attracts thousands of travelers every year. But it may look a little different this year. “Normally the pictures you see from trips down there it’s not crystal blue water but when they have flooding, there’s a lot of erosion so the water actually turns to mud basically,” hiker James Christian said.

In November, the Havasupai tribe wrote to President Biden asking for help after a severe flooding event on Oct. 1. He approved the tribe’s disaster declaration. This means they’ll receive funding to help with recovery efforts. The weather caused significant damage to many trails and footbridges throughout the reservation. A tribal statement says visitors should expect to see several downed trees. “For me, knowing they’re so dependent on the economics of tourism, I am all for getting them back up to where they need to be as soon as possible,” Christian said.

Christian believes funding is essential for the popular attraction. He has been before, saying he plans his trips for months. Despite any damage, there may be, he’s excited to get back. “We have some really good friends in Copenhagen waiting to go as soon as we can get a reservation they’re willing to fly across the earth to go with us,” Christian said.

Unfortunately, if you want to go this year, there are no new reservations or permits available. Only those who bought a spot during the COVID tourism suspension have a confirmed reservation. The only way to get a reservation for 2023 is to purchase off the official transfer list.

Holly Bock

Holly Bock

Holly Bock joined Arizona’s Family in October 2021. Holly graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Go, Devils!