Havasu Falls, located in the Grand Canyon National Park, has been closed to the public for the past three years due to the devastating Hualapai Tribe water rights dispute. On October 15th, Havasu Falls will finally reopen to visitors and tourists after a long and arduous process of mediation. The falls were first closed in January 2015 as a result of a lawsuit filed by the Hualapai Tribe against the National Park Service. The closure was an attempt by the tribe to gain control over all water flows into and out of the Grand Canyon. In October 2016, mediation proceedings began between representatives from both tribes. After months of discussion, agreement was reached on October 15th and Havasu Falls will now reopen to tourists.
What led to the closure of Havasu Falls?
The Havasu Falls attraction in the Grand Canyon National Park will reopen to visitors after a one-year closure, park officials announced Wednesday. The park has reopened several smaller trails during the past year as part of a phased restoration plan for Havasu Falls, spokeswoman Christie Walrath said. But the waterfall itself remained closed due toiltation and poor water quality. “We’ve been doing some work on smaller trails that allow visitors access to the falls while they’re open,” Walrath said. “But we needed more time to completely restore the waterfall.” The full restoration plan is expected to take three years and cost $2 million, she added.
Havasu Falls was first opened to tourists in 1903 and quickly became one of the most popular attractions in the Grand Canyon National Park. But until recently, it had not been kept up well by park staff, with poor water quality and ongoing instability caused by heavy visitation. In 2016, officials announced that Havasu Falls would be closed for a year as part of a multi-phase restoration effort aimed at restoring its stability and making it safe for visitors once again.
How did visitors respond to the closure?
After one year of being closed to visitors, Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls is set to reopen to the public on July 1st. The National Park Service announced on June 21st that the falls will open at 10 a.m. daily from July 1-30th for visitors who purchase a park ticket. This marks the first time in over 40 years that Havasu Falls has been open to the public this early in the season.
The hike to Havasu Falls is not an easy one and it can take anywhere from 2-4 hours roundtrip depending on your fitness level and route selected. During the last year, officials were forced to close the falls due to high water levels caused by El Niño. When water levels reach their maximum, they are unable to safely pass through the narrows at the bottom of the waterfall. The park service says that they have monitored Havasu Falls closely and have determined that it is safe for visitors to return now.
What are the long-term effects of the closure on Havasu Falls?
The Havasu Falls closure is a huge relief for visitors who have wanted to experience the natural wonder for years. The falls will reopen on January 2, 2019 after a one-year closure. The reopening of the falls means that more people can see this incredible landmark.
When the falls were closed, officials stated that it was due to an increase in visitors and vandalism. It is good to see that these concerns were taken into account when making the decision to close the falls. The increased tourism has put a lot of stress on the infrastructure of the park, and this closure was necessary in order to restore stability. Now that the falls are reopened, it should help regulate visitor numbers and improve safety.