TRAVEL

HAVASUPAI (& THE GRAND CANYON CONFLUENCE)

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WHAT?

One the most beautiful places on earth.


HOW DO I GET HERE?

First things first. You’ll need a reservation. Here’s what to do.

  1. Remember this date: FEBRUARY 1ST. This is when you can begin making reservations.

  2. Remember this website: http://theofficialhavasupaitribe.com. This is where you can sign up for reservations. Spots fill up FAST! Make sure you sign up immediately after reservations open.

While this blog will provide a brief overview for your trip, the website above will provide more in-depth details about how much permits cost, how many days you can stay, and further rules and regulations for staying in Havasupai.

HOW DO I GET HERE (PART 2)?

You’ve got your permit! Great! Here’s how to get here.

By car: Take the 1-40 to Seligman, AZ (I strongly recommend eating at https://www.westsidelilos.com/ before and/or after your experience in Havasupai). From Seligman take Indian Route 18 to the Hualapi Hilltop. Here you can park your vehicle and prepare for the next leg of your trip.

To get to Havasupai Village you’re most likely taking one of two ways:

  • Hiking in: Prepare yourself for an 8 mile downhill hike to Havasupai village where you will check in and receive confirmation of your online permit. It’s another 2 miles from here to the campground but if you’re staying at the Lodge then you’re already there. You can always pay a small fee for your backpack to be carried up and/or down the trail by mule.

  • Helicopter ride: 85$ one way. A short 10 minute ride from the Hualapi Hilltop to Havasupai Village. Please visit this website for more details: https://waterfallsofthegrandcanyon.com/havasu-falls/havasupai-helicopters/

WHERE DO I STAY?

Most people stay at the campground, 10 miles from the trailhead. Several eco-friendly bathrooms and a fresh water spring are available at the campground.

Lodging is also available at the Havasupai Lodge. Reservations begin in the summer months.


WHEN SHOULD I GO?

Havaupai is open from February to the end of November. Summer months (May-August) are the best time to get in the water BUT they are also the most dangerous for hiking with temperatures rising past 100 degrees fahrenheit. These months also include monsoon season, and heavy rains can bring very dangerous flash floods to the area. Please be mindful of weather patterns and plan accordingly. Many people suffer heat related injuries (even up to death) every year while in Havasupai and in the Grand Canyon wilderness.

THE CONFLUENCE (HAVASU CREEK MEETS THE COLORADO RIVER):

For those of you here for details regarding the hike to the confluence: Bring plenty of water for the day (3 liters has typically been enough for me). Pack a lunch, bring snacks, and plan on having dinner back at the campground. I strongly suggest beginning your day from the campground no later than 8AM as you will be in for 14-18 miles (or 7-10 hours) round trip of hiking. The mileage varies depending on where you stay in Havasu Campground and also because you will be crossing the Havasu Creek 9-10 times. Route finding can be tricky and rock cairns will serve as your best friend. You will get wet on this hike, although the water crossings have never been higher than my thighs. I suggest wearing a pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting wet and that you don’t have to take off each time you cross the water. This will help cut down on time and energy.

People that do this hike will usually include a small visit to Beaver Falls which is along the way. By this time you will have crossed the Havasu Creek 3 times. The Beaver Falls area is also the area you will be leaving the Havasupai Reservation and entering Grand Canyon National Park. Along the trail, just before Beaver Falls, there is an option to turn left and go to the falls or to continue straight over a large hill and into the Grand Canyon. As you choose to continue straight you will reach a sign that designates you are leaving Havasupai Reservation. Make your way down the large hill and you will meet up again with Havasu Creek. From here you’ll have another 4-6 miles to the confluence, and you’ll cross the creek another 6 or so times. The trail is beautiful but can also be hard to find at times. Be on the lookout for cairns to help guide the way. You may even encounter Bighorn Sheep if you’re lucky.

The confluence is a popular place for river rafters to dock their rafts and do day hikes up Havasu Creek. When you arrive you will see the beautiful blue waters of Havasu Creek meet the roaring grey waters of the Colorado River. It’s quite a sight to see. Congratulations! You are now a part of a small group of people that have made it this deep into the canyon.


WHAT WILL I SEE? (SPOILER ALERT)

In order of appearance:

TRAILHEAD (START)

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HAVSUPAI VILLAGE (8 MILES IN)

NAVAJO FALLS (9 MILES IN)

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HAVASU FALLS (10 MILES IN)

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HAVASU CAMPGROUND (10 MILES IN)

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MOONEY FALLS (10-11 MILES IN)

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BEAVER FALLS (12 MILES IN)

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ADDITIONAL HIKE TO THE GRAND CANYON CONFLUENCE (18-20 MILES IN)

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RAINBOW BRIDGE

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WHAT IS IT?

Rainbow Bridge is the world’s highest natural bridge spanning 234 ft. and with a height of 290ft. The bridge is made of sandstone and is a primary example of stream erosion in the Colorado Plateau area. Rainbow Bridge and the surrounding area is considered sacred to the local Native American tribes and is protected by the National Park Service.

WHERE IS IT?

Rainbow Bridge is located in the remote parts of the greater Lake Powell area, just northwest of Navajo Mountain in Southern Utah.

HOW CAN I GET THERE?

  • By Boat:

    Boaters can access this remote location via Lake Powell. A floating dock, the falls and rises with the water levels, is available for boats. From the dock, Rainbow Bridge is a short and easy quarter-mile hike away. Bathrooms are available at the dock. No camping is allowed.

  • By Hike:

    A very long and strenuous 32 mile round-trip hike starts from the northeast side of Navajo Mountain. Camping is available in select areas but not in the designated Rainbow Bridge area. The hike itself is extremely hilly but provides spectacular views of the Lake Powell backcountry. Give yourself at least 2-4 days to hike in and out.

    • How to Get There:

      The trailhead is accessed from Highway 160. Take the 98 North to Indian Route 16. From there go north to Road 434, and then north on Road 487. Road 487 is a 4 mile dirt road. High clearance is strongly recommended. When using Google Maps, “Navajo Mountain High School” will be the nearest location to the trailhead.

    • Safety:

      Please take note that for those attempting the hike to Rainbow Bridge that this is a hike suited for experienced hikers. There are a few spots along the trail for water, but it is scarce. Bring 1-2 gallons of water to start your hike and bring a water filtration device (you will need it). The trail itself is marked by cairns and at times they can be difficult to find…one small deviation from the trail can be deadly. If you do get lost make sure to follow your steps back to the last cairn and begin again. It is strongly recommended to do this hike in a group with experienced hikers. If you do decide to go solo, bring a map or GPS system, and notify someone that you are hiking.

Hiking through the backcountry en route to Rainbow Bridge

Hiking through the backcountry en route to Rainbow Bridge

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ICELAND: RING ROAD OVERVIEW

Stokness, one of the many wonders you'll expereince as your travel Iceland's ring road

Stokness, one of the many wonders you'll expereince as your travel Iceland's ring road

LET'S JUMP RIGHT IN:

So you're tired of seeing all those Iceland pictures on Instagram and have finally decided to make the trip to see for yourself! Now you're just looking for how to plan. Perfect! Here is a quick and simple one week itinerary of how to get the most out of your journey. 

 

THE RING ROAD: 

The ring road is approximately 800 miles (1300 kilometers) that traces the perimeter of Iceland. If you have 7-10 days, it's arguably the best way to experience this beautiful country. The road is two lanes, mainly paved, unless you are taking some shortcuts (which may be dirt or gravel roads), and is in fairly good shape (minus a few potholes). 

 

STEP #1: GET A RENTAL CAR

Yup. It's super easy. A one week rental from any of the major car rental agencies runs around $300 for the week, depending on how much insurance you're willing to get on it. Looking to camp in a van? There are plenty of options for that too! It is a bit more expensive... unless, of course, you're splitting the cost amongst friends.

 

STEP #2: HOUSING

There are lots of ways to experience Iceland. The two most reasonable ways to travel the ring road, given the weather, are either car-camping or airbnb-ing. As for my trip, I found reasonably priced airbnb's (around $100/night) in each of the places listed below.

 

STEP #3: PLACES TO STAY

Okay, now we're getting into it. Let's say you have one week to travel (it'll take at least one week to do the full ring). Here are some great cities/towns to stay in or explore. Together they give a great feel for the Iceland experience. Posted below is a map for your reference to the ring road:

Ring Road

Ring Road

 

A: KEFLAVIK AIRPORT TO REYKJAVIK

You've just landed at Keflavik airport. If you get in early in the day, you can make a morning or afternoon at the Blue Lagoon. It's a little pricey (around $60-70), but it's a classic sight, especially if you're looking to take a dip in the local hot springs. If you arrive later in the afternoon or evening, you can head directly to the capital city of Reykjavik. There you will be able to find several places to eat or get groceries, and also many reasonably priced places to stay the night.

*If you are staying more than a week, I strongly recommend driving the Golden Circle before continuing the ring road. Give yourself at least one to two days to do this.

 

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

 

A TO B: REYKJAVIK TO VIK

Along the road from Reykjavik to Vik, you'll find a slew of gems - waterfalls, black sand beaches, even an airplane wreckage site... just to name a few. 

When you arrive at Vik, there you'll find a quaint and cozy town with plenty to do. Vik is great for bird watching (namely for puffins - those cute orange and white looking birds) and walking the black sand beaches of Dyrholaey.

Dyrholaey.

Dyrholaey.

 

B TO C: VIK TO HOFN

The road from Vik to Hofn is incredibly scenic with tons to see (when is there not?!). This portion of the ring road is where you'll find Skaftafell National Park, the glacial lagoon of Jokulsarlon, and several glaciers. At these locations you have opportunity to explore ice caves, go ice climbing, or even walk along glaciers. 

Hofn is a very pretty port town that offers tasty local seafood. If you arrive before sunset I strongly recommend a visit to Stokness to explore. It's only a few miles down the road and well worth a trip.

Jokulsarlon

Jokulsarlon

 

C TO D: HOFN TO EGILSSTADIR OR SEYDISFJORDUR

Traveling the ring road from Hofn to eastern Iceland presents a few optional shortcuts. If you're staying true to the ring road then you will pass along many fjords. Eventually, you will come upon the largest city in east Iceland, Egilsstadir. I suggest going a bit further east to the coastal town of Seydisfjordur where you will have spectacular view of the coastline and some artsy shops to look around at.

Seydisfjordur

Seydisfjordur

 

D TO E: EASTERN ICELAND TO MYVATN

If you're looking to spend some time in northeast Iceland, I recommend Bakkagerdi for puffin watching. Another popular spot is Dettifoss. Dettifoss is one of the most powerful waterfalls in all of Europe. Moving westward, you'll reach Myvatn.

Myvatn lies in the northernmost part of Iceland. It is full of geothermal wonders, including the Myvatn hot baths, a more scenic and less expensive version of the Blue Lagoon. Don't forget to check out Grjótagjá caves as well. If you're looking for some hiking, I recommend Hverfjall crater.

Myvatn hot springs

Myvatn hot springs

  

E TO F: MYVATN TO AKUREYRI

As you move west from Mvyatn you reach Akureyri, the capital of the north. This place is just lovely. Tucked between fjords, the city center is the largest outside of Reykjavik. Whale watching is available here, as are many places to eat and find lodging. I recommend venturing out into the smaller towns on the outskirts of Akureyri, located further north, up the fjords. Make sure to see Godafoss on your way into Akureyri. Godafoss is a powerful and impressive waterfall that is well worth teh detore. 

Godafoss

Godafoss

 

F TO A: BACK TO REYKJAVIK

From Akureyri to Reykjavik there is the famous Kirkjufellsfoss - a must-see on your return trip home. 

Kirkjufellsfoss

Kirkjufellsfoss

 

THAT'S A WRAP!

Remember that these places are only a general overview in helping you form your own unique ring road experience. Quite honestly, there is too much to see and do in just a week. But if a week is all you have, well then, this may be a good start.

Looking for more information regarding Iceland? Don't forget to check out my other blog post. As always, I'd love to hear from you about what's been helpful and what I missed.

Monument Valley & More

The famous Mittens at dusk

The famous Mittens at dusk

MONUMENT VALLEY:

Monument Valley, that ever iconic symbol of the Wild West, has always represented for me the rugged and unexplored frontier, what’s possible for the curious, and the reward for the seeking, the real diamond in the rough. The real secret though? There’s so much more to do in this area. But let's start at the beginning.

Okay, so you want to go to, but you need to know where to stay and what to do. No problem. 

 

WHERE TO STAY: THE VIEW

http://monumentvalleyview.com/

Grab a room at The View! There is no place closer than this for your access to Monument Valley. Rooms here are reasonably priced, especially for the views, (you can see Monument Valley from your room!) and it includes a complimentary breakfast. The restaurant provides local cuisine and I recommend getting a Navajo Taco. A gift shop is attached to the restaurant if you're in the mood for grabbing a souvenir, a beautiful piece of Navajo jewelry or pottery. How much for a night? Plan on spending between $100-$200 a night. Rooms fill up fast so book your room a few weeks in advance. 

The View

The View

WHAT TO DO: GO FOR A DRIVE

So you've paid a small entrance fee and made it to Monument Valley. What next? GO FOR A DRIVE and see the sights. Right next to The View Hotel is a 17 mile looped road for your viewing pleasure. A compact car will do, but be prepared to drive slowly on a dirt road with some potholes. Along this route you will see much more than the Mittens, a myriad of rock formations and valleys that give you a much better appreciation for the depth of the valley. How long does the loop take? Pack a lunch and plan on spending a few hours by stopping at the many sights along the way. Maps are available at the entrance fee station.

 

BUT WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO SEE?

I'm glad you asked. SO MUCH MORE! Here's a small list below to get you started.

 

VALLEY OF THE GODS:

Looking for a more rugged experience? How about pitching a tent along Valley of the Gods road? Here, you'll beat the crowds and be even closer to the large monoliths rising up above you. Give it a go. You won't be dissapointed.

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GOOSENECKS STATE PARK:

Wanna see something wild? Take a quick trip over to Goosenecks State Park to see the meander of the San Juan River. It's a truly spectacular sight.

 

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MOKI DUGWAY:

To see a breathtaking sight of the Utah/Arizona land in which you'll be roaming about, take the steep, unpaved but graded switchbacks of Moki Dugway. When you get to the top, take a moment and pull over, and enjoy the sights below you.

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WELL...

What are you waiting for? GO ADVENTURE!

Monument Valley at sunrise

Monument Valley at sunrise

Grand Canyon - RIM TO RIM TO RIM

Looking into the Grand Canyon from Bright Angel Trail

Looking into the Grand Canyon from Bright Angel Trail

AN OVERVIEW:

The Grand Canyon may just be one of the most iconic examples of grandeur in nature. For the more daring adventurers, perhaps one of the best ways to see just how big it is would be to try hiking the Canyon from Rim to Rim to Rim. Of course this hike could be modified in any way, shape, or form. A more popular version of this is simply hiking Rim to Rim (South to North) and placing a car at both ends for pick up. Yet another option is hiking a loop of the South Rim from Bright Angel to South Kaibab, with a park shuttle able to take hikers from the end of the trail to their car.

RIM TO RIM TO RIM - THE ROUTE:

Okay, so you've decided to do the BIG hike. Here's what to expect: 50 miles over rock, dirt, steep cliffs, and winding canyons. While some hikers attempt this hike in one day, I do strongly recommend to do this over two or three days. The route can vary on which Rim and which trail you decide to begin your hike. I will suggest here a route and agenda that worked well for me.  

Day One: Camp at Mather Campground on the South Rim. Tent and car camping is $18 a site. At Mather Campground you are just a few minutes drive to Bright Angel Trailhead.

Day Two: Park car at Bright Angel trailhead and begin the epic journey. Take Bright Angel to North Kaibab. You will pass the Colorado River and then Phantom Ranch (and also many other campgrounds including Cottonwood). Camp at the North Rim. No backcountry permits are needed if camping is done on top of the Rims, but is needed if camping in the Canyon.

Day Three: Hike North Kaibab to South Kaibab. Take the park shuttle from South Kaibab trailhead to the trailhead of Bright Angel to pick up your car.

*Note: You can approximately count on 25 miles of hiking a day from Rim to Rim. It should take an average hiker of good shape and a decent pace from 10-14 hours of hiking to go Rim to Rim.

WEATHER AND WATER:

Weather is going to be a determining factor in planning your hike. Spring and fall months are gonna be your best bet when temperatures are much cooler. DO NOT ATTEMPT this hike in summer months, or if you do, use extreme caution.

There are water stations along the trail to fill up, however, there is NO WATER available along the South Kaibab trail (please plan accordingly). I carried 4 liters of water on me at all times and I was able to refill at each water station. I had no issues, but remember that everyone is different when it comes to water intake. Having a source of electrolytes is also very important. I suggest Gatorade or Propel packets to mix in water. Coconut water is also a great source of energy. 

VIEWS

Sunrise at Bright Angel Trailhead

Sunrise at Bright Angel Trailhead

The mighty Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon

The mighty Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon

Views of the North Rim from South Rim

Views of the North Rim from South Rim

WHAT TO BRING:

  • Tennis shoes or a comfortable pair of hiking boots
  • Extra pairs of socks and appropriate clothing.
  • Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad
  • 4 liters of water (plus water filter)
  • Meals, snacks (GU Gels)
  • Jet Boil and matches if cooking meals
  • Headlight
  • Sunscreen
  • The list continues...remember that you are hiking around 50 miles so the lighter your pack the better.

* There is food and drink sold at the Lodges at both the South and North Rim. Food and drink is also sold at Phantom Ranch, a set of cottages at the bottom of the Canyon almost directly in between South and North Rim. I would check ahead to see if these locations are open before heading into the Canyon.

CAUTION:

As usual with these kind of hikes make sure that you take the time to prepare yourself. Tell someone else about your travel plans. Pack and prepare adequately, hydrate, and bring enough nutrition to power you through. If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them. Happy hiking!

ICELAND

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TIPS FOR TRAVEL

WHEN TO GO:

Summer:

  • The nicest weather
  • Longer days
  • The most crowds
  • Most expensive

Winter:

  • The coldest weather (snow)
  • Shorter days
  • The least crowds
  • Northern Lights
  • Least expensive

 

GETTING THERE:

Iceland Air: 

  • Provides a stopover for up to seven days in Iceland on your way to a European city. (I did this from Tucson, AZ to Brussels with six day stopover in Iceland). 
  • Pros: Make it a longer vacation with a trip to Europe.
  • Cons: You only get up to seven days in Iceland. Enough to scratch the surface but not enough to see everything.

WOW Airlines: 

  • Flies from major US cities into Iceland.
  • Pros: It's cheaper than Iceland Air
  • Cons: It's cheaper than Iceland Air. No stopover to Europe.

 

WHEN YOU'RE THERE:

Food:

  • If you're traveling on a budget DON'T EAT OUT! Restaurant eating can be pricey. Look to spend $15-25 dollars per person/per meal if you do.
  • DO go grocery shopping and meal plan. This is gonna save $$$. I recommend BONUS.

Housing:

  • Iceland during the summer is busy so hostels/hotels could be pricey and/or unavailable.
  • Airbnb is a nice option. I spent around $100/night for a cozy place just outside Reykjavik on the Golden Circle.

 

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Transportation:

  • Rent a car.
  • I used Sad Cars. Older cars but less expensive. (See picture on right)
  • Also, gas is expensive. Like $7/gallon expensive. So an economic vehicle will do you well.

When Traveling:

  • Make a plan
  • Do research before and plan out your sights.
  • Instagram is a great tool to use to see where others have been. 

 

TRAVEL:

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  • Make a day of the Golden Circle
  • Make several days or a week of traveling around the Ring Road
  • Visit the DC-3 Plane Crash (picture on right)
  • Visit the Black Sand beaches in Dyrholaey
  • Visit the Glacial Lagoon
  • For something more touristy visit Blue Lagoon
  • Get in a natural hot spring
  • See Waterfalls (below)

 

 

 

WATERFALLS TO SEE:

Haifoss

Haifoss

Gljúfrabúi

Gljúfrabúi

Skogafoss

Skogafoss

Gulfoss

Gulfoss

Seljalandfoss

Seljalandfoss

Secret Falls

Secret Falls

LAST WORD:

As usual, don't hesitate to ask for more suggestions!

If you find this helpful or intriguing please share with your friends! 

Reflection Canyon

"I envied a raven as he flew into the late afternoon light over reflection canyon. I called out to him in a loud voice that echoed through the canyon, "hey buddy!" It felt good to say that. "How does it feel to be free?" But he never responded. And it was better that way."

Reflection Canyon glowing in the afternoon light

Reflection Canyon glowing in the afternoon light

WHAT TO EXPECT

Gorgeous colors and winding channels of water cut into the high cliffs of Lake Powell. Be prepared to drive a fifty-one mile dirt road followed by a rigorous, one-way 6-10 mile hike that will demand your best route-finding skills and use of a good map or GPS. Water levels and temperatures are lowest in the Spring, which is an ideal time to make this adventure.

HOW TO GET THERE

Map and compass is a great way to navigate. I picked up this map of the Escalante National Monument for $13 at REI. Well worth it!

Map and compass is a great way to navigate. I picked up this map of the Escalante National Monument for $13 at REI. Well worth it!

From Escalante go five miles east to Hole in the Rock Road. Travel exactly fifty-one miles south on a washboard dirt road. A four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle is needed. After you've parked start hiking south, hugging the large cliffs to the west. This will help you avoid a multitude of ravines and slots canyons that wind throughout the landscape. After a few miles you will begin heading southeast over rocky hills and ankle high prickly pear cactus to reach Reflection Canyon. There is no right way although some ways are more direct. A more direct route may mean traversing up and down large hills. Do your best to avoid too much up and down travel using the landscape to your advantage.

BE PREPARED! Remember that this is a rigorous hike into the wilderness. There are rarely any trail markers (cairns) and footprints are not always a reliable source of direction. Do your research before. Bring a map and compass. Bring a GPS, or if you dont feel like spending the several hundred dollars for a decent one, map out your course on Google Maps on your phone. When Navajo Mountain is in sight (to the south) you should get cell phone coverage (I received LTE for Verizon). and be able see your progress via Google Maps. It may seem obvious but by using your natural landmarks you will be able to navigate your course. See images below.

I was able to use Google Maps to create a saved location. The heart is Reflection Canyon and the blue dot with arrow at the top left corner is where I parked my car. When I had service I could check my progress to make sure I was headed the right way. Make sure to use Google Earth for a more detailed map of the area.

I was able to use Google Maps to create a saved location. The heart is Reflection Canyon and the blue dot with arrow at the top left corner is where I parked my car. When I had service I could check my progress to make sure I was headed the right way. Make sure to use Google Earth for a more detailed map of the area.

Parked car at the "trailhead." Follow these cliffs to the south as you make your way to Reflection Canyon.

Parked car at the "trailhead." Follow these cliffs to the south as you make your way to Reflection Canyon.

WHAT TO PACK

Reflection Canyon can be done in one day. One long day. But for however many days you do plan to come make sure to bring one gallon of water per day. I would also recommend something like Gatorade to help replenish electrolytes. Plan meals accordingly. I am a big fan of Backpacker Pantry prepackaged meals that just need hot water. Snacks are a must as well - trail mix, protein bars, etc. Whatever you pack, make sure to use Leave No Trace principles. There are no bathrooms along the route.

WHEN YOU GET THERE

Camping is possible along Reflection Canyon although there are few spots to pitch a tent. Take great care along the cliff ledges as you will be only a few feet away from several hundred feet drop-offs. And as always, make sure to practice Leave No Trace principles. Happy Camping!

Camping is possible along Reflection Canyon although there are few spots to pitch a tent. Take great care along the cliff ledges as you will be only a few feet away from several hundred feet drop-offs. And as always, make sure to practice Leave No Trace principles. Happy Camping!

After a challenging hike, reward yourself by making camp and wandering the tall cliff edges to gain the different and spectacular views of Reflection Canyon. Following the canyon edge north will take you several other stunning views.

As far as photography, I found the best success during the afternoon light before the shadows set in. The best shots were at dusk when the canyon turned to from gold to blue and back to gold. Make sure to also take advantage of the early morning light just before the sun rises over the distant cliffs. If you are lucky enough to catch a full moon you will be delightfully surprised by the glow of the canyon walls in the moonlight, especially on the white-stained places of the rock where the high water level once was.