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By Guest Bloggers /

For a Southwestern tour guide, December in Phoenix can be a culture shock. We spend our other three seasons essentially as visitors to the Valley of the Sun: dropping off trip gear, meeting our next group of adventurers, and departing for the Southwest’s most iconic locations, week after week. Many of us spend over 100 days between March and November in Havasupai, the heart of the Grand Canyon. Forty-five miles west of Grand Canyon National Park, spring-fed, turquoise waters wander through islands of wavy, lush seep-willow and craggy deposits of red-tinged travertine on the Havasupai Tribe’s reservation. We cross onto tribal land 60 miles from trailhead, and continue to explore it until we depart enroute to Phoenix at the end of the week. The village that lies 8 miles below the rim of the canyon is home to around 400 people, a welcome transition from metropolitan Phoenix’s ever-growing 4 million. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, we grow into the canyon life. Towering precipices of Redwall limestone replace backyard fences, moon-lit camp chairs fill in for living room couches, and our neighbors are locals and fellow campers. Havasupai invites the senses to an experience found nowhere else on the planet. As we lead groups through the canyon, vermilion cliffs contrast with the fields of vivid green grapevines that spring out from the blue-green water. We journey each day from the roar of hundred-foot waterfalls to the absolute silence found at the back of side canyons. As we fire up the grills in the evening, the scents of mouthwatering gourmet food mingle with the fresh canyon air as the breeze rocks the creek-side hammocks. It’s hard to say a temporary goodbye to both the scenery and community in November, despite the welcome from friends and the glorious winter weather in Phoenix. Coming back to the city, I realize that “home” is a place found 250 miles north, deep in the Grand Canyon.

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