PHOENIX — The Havasupai Tribal Council has temporarily halted guided trips to its popular turquoise-colored waterfalls near the Grand Canyon while it reviews the permitting process and investigates reports of pack-animal abuse.
The decision will only impact third-party providers who offer guided trips. Hikers who have acquired an individual permit will still be able to make the trip, The Arizona Republic reported.
The northern Arizona destination is near the southern boundary of the Grand Canyon National Park. It’s grown so popular that permits can be difficult to obtain, and some people rely on the third-party tours to visit.
“The Tribal Council is doing this in order to preserve the campground and trails for the betterment of the tribe and the thousands of tourists that visit Havasupai Falls each year,” said tribal Chairman Don E. Watahomigie in a written statement.
Tribal officials say they will look into increased complaints about pack-animal abuse witnessed on the trail. Several people have recently reported seeing horses struggling under the weight of equipment, while other hikers have posted pictures online of horses that seem injured.
The council will also review the permitting process to better understand how outfitters are operating, said tribal spokeswoman Abbe Fink.
Some outfitters were able to buy permits in bulk, making it more difficult for individual hikers to get them.
“That’s the primary intent, to discourage those. And again, it’s temporary,” Fink said.