Monday, February 27, 2012

Spring Break Guide: The Grand Canyon

Derrik Chinn, travel planner extraordinaire and owner of Tijuana tour company, Turista Libre curated six Spring Break guides for Made to Last. He is our featured guest blogger and is giving tips and tricks for all of the hottest Spring Break destinations. This week we are featuring The Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon

Ah, The Grand Canyon. One of North America's most breathtaking geological wonders that's two billion years in the making, all at your fingertips. Well, yours and about 50 million others. That's right, some five million tourists flood the Grand Canyon every year. Let's get as far away from as many of them as possible, ASAP. They'll hog all the fresh air.

Skywalk. On this walkway that extends 70 feet off the canyon's edge, a mere 2.5 inches of glass is all that separates your bootied feet (so as not to smudge the view) from the 4,000-foot drop down to the Colorado River. Located on the West Rim, 24 miles west of Grand Canyon Villiage, Skywalk opened in 2007 to give visitors access to views of the canyon normally reserved for folks with enough funds to throw down on a private helicopter tour.

White Water Raft in the Grand Canyon

White and wild. The Grand Canyon ranks as the country's top white water rafting trip, says NatGeo, with waves that can top 20 feet and hydraulics that flip boats like flapjacks. It's not always a bumpy, the ride includes scenic stretches that pass Anasazi ruins and cactus. The waiting list for a permit to captain your own vessel down the Colorado is backed up for years, but plenty of tour outfits operate regularly. Multi-day treks are the norm, usually at least three days. But single-day options exist, too. Check, and

Waterfall swim party. The Havasupai, whose name means people of the blue-green water, are the only continual residents of the Grand Canyon, going on 800 years. And they're totally cool with you pitching a tent in their backyard. Just call ahead to tell them you're coming ( Otherwise they'll charge you double. For real.

It's an eight-mile hike from the parking lot at the canyon's southern rim during which you'll descend 3,000 feet to Supai, capital of the Havasupai and the most remote village in the U.S. (the mail still arrives on a muleback; the post office sells postcards so you can write home to say just that). Then it's another two miles to the campground, all together making for a 4-6 hour hike in.

Havasupai Waterfalls

The next few days consist of a continual swim party in the turquoise pools at the base of Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls, all between a half and three miles from camp. Havasu is the closest and most picturesque, falling 100 feet into a sweeping turquoise pool. The tallest, Mooney, measures 190 feet.

Camping at the bottom of the Havasupai isn't really for pamperati. You haul in all your food and water, haul out all your trash and do your business in a hole.