The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The truth behind Grand Canyon’s Havasupai Falls
by Karen Pomroy
Natural Horse Magazine, Volume 20, Issue 3
As you hike down the eight-mile stretch of switchback trails and rough terrain, you experience the serene beauty as you anticipate reaching the bottom of one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Havasupai Falls, where tourists from all over the world make the long journey from their home countries to feel the magic and visit this enchanted site. If you hike, you need to be in good shape to handle the steep terrain and treacherous footing. Hiking is one way of getting in and out of the canyon. Another is by helicopter; although a wonderful and easy way to arrive at the bottom, you may have to wait for hours to get a thrilling ride on the “chopper.”
There is one other way to visit Havasupai Falls… on horseback. In fact, if you hike, you will pass by several strings of horses and mules carrying
heavy packs, supplies, and tourists. Truly a sight to be seen. It feels like the Wild, Wild West, and what a memory to hold on to for life.
Behind the scenes, however, is a horrible abuse that many are not aware of. Horses and mules are burdened down with packs so heavy they collapse in the hot sun, only to be beaten, kicked and forced to stand in order to reach the top of the canyon where there is no shelter, water or rest. Upon arrival at “hilltop,” they are forced back down the eight-mile stretch, with a new load. The brutality has existed for decades. Only a few know the truth behind the scenes. Hundreds of horses and mules have suffered at the hands of their owners, being abused so badly that they could barely stand, and at times were left to die.