We spent the first night, of 7, at the Rim. Hiked 10 miles down into the Village and then 2 more miles to the Campsites. We camped between the river and the canyon walls. Hard to go wrong. We did scout around to see how close to falling rocks or dying trees we might be. One tree did come crashing down in front of us. Not something unique to the area, just worth knowing when setting up camp in general. The Fern Spring in the center of the campsite has constantly running water and taste good. They have a general store and a restaurant in the village. The selections are limited. I had no use for either, but they are there if needed. There is a strong cell signal in the village but really none around the campsites. Which was fine with me!
We paid to have a mule carry some of our heavier gear. One can skip the hike altogether and take a horse or helicopter. But what fun is that? I could see using a horse or helicopter on the return hike but one should at least experience the hike in on foot. Also, if on a horse only a small pack is allowed. No way to take enough gear to camp if using a horse alone. I got different quotes, but seems the horse is about $60/70 and the helicopter is about 30% more but does not run daily. Children are charged same as adults. On the helicopter one can bring a big enough pack to do some camping.
We went to work with the local school children and help the elderly clean up their yards. I was told the population is 700 but only about 200 live on the reservation. They are missing an opportunity to share their culture and make a few bucks by have some, any, cultural events but at least they have decided not to do the casino thing. It seems there is some real political struggles going on within the Tribe, but for most campers, I suspect that would never come up.
Swimming at the Falls is just wonderful. Also potentially deadly, so do not go directly under them or swim/walk too close above them. People have drowned there! There are very many very safe, deep and shallow, spots to swim
The sweet spot in the weather seems to be early or late in the season.
This place has everything I love in a hike. Specifically the hike to Beaver Falls (more Cascades than Falls). One gets to boulder, climb down the cliff side with the aid of chains at some points and then the terrain changes along the way. Crossing the river (bring water shoes) more bouldering and even arch ways of grape vines.
The first 10 miles from the Rim is not a real difficult hike. and for being so remote, it is good to know that in a real emergency one can get a helicopter out to the hospital from the campground. A real opportunity to expose children, and adults too I guess, to a different culture and appreciation for nature.
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