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A Visit to the Grand Canyon’s Waterfalls

Havasu Falls, photo credit: Nate Loper

[Originally published as What Will You See?—Waterfalls]

One thing people on river trips through the Grand Canyon are often surprised by are the number of waterfalls we encounter. In such a drastically dry desert environment, seeing water cascading from canyon crevices is an unexpected delight. The Grand Canyon is home to numerous waterfalls, both large and small.

The most well-known waterfall in the Grand Canyon would have to be Havasu Falls [shown above]. Standing at the base of this tumbling torrent of turquoise and travertine whisks you away to another world—seeming an island paradise, rather than the American Southwest.

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That’s why it’s often on many a top-10 list for the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. This beauty is not without difficulty getting to, however, often requiring special permits and a 20-mile round-trip hike into the traditional homeland of the Havasupai people, who are so named because of this waterfall and its creek. Havasupai means “people of the blue-green water.” This ethereally-lucent stream continues flowing down the canyon into the Colorado River, and is a favorite stop on many of our 7- and 9-day river trips.Deer Creek Falls, photo credit: Nate Loper

My personal favorite waterfall in the canyon is a little easier to reach if you happen to be on a Canyon Ministries river trip. Situated less than 75 yards from the Colorado River, Deer Creek Falls is probably the most impressive water feature you’ll encounter on a 7- or 9-day trip with us. This waterfall surprises most guests, as it did John Wesley Powell over 150 years ago, who recorded it during his famous expedition of 1869.

As your raft rounds a bend of the river, this 120-foot ribbon of white explodes into view. A short walk from the boats and you have ample area to relax on the beach and boulders surrounding it, take a dip in its deep azure pool, or, for the daring, attempt to swim toward the weight of all its thundering downpour. It’s literally a breathtaking experience, as the force of falling water, along with the associated wind and spray, creates a repelling push only the most adventurous can overcome. If you do happen to conquer the currents of elemental might and find yourself in the power shower under Deer Creek Falls, you will undoubtedly walk away with the best tapotement massage of your life.

Waterfalls in the Grand Canyon are not only seen on river trips, but sometimes can be seen from the rim above. In fact, if you know where to look, a highly impressive waterfall can seasonally be seen across the canyon from places like Yavapai Point. At over 800 feet in height, Cheyava Falls is the tallest and perhaps most secreted waterfall in the canyon, requiring an overnight backpacking trip to reach.

God’s Provision of Water

The amazing sights and sounds of water springing from stone reminds me of God’s provision for the Hebrew people as they left Egypt en-route to Mount Sinai. After reaching the camp at a place called Rephidim and not finding any water, God tells Moses to strike a large rock. As Moses obeys, God causes water to gush forth in ample supply, not just enough for the millions of particularly parched people in that wilderness, but enough for their animals and livestock as well. That’s a LOT of water.

What message do you think that sent to the people of Israel?

God has a way of providing by unexpected means. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. I like that. Rather than relying on my own fallible perspective, I take comfort in knowing our ever-present Creator not only knows our past and our present circumstances, but He can see what lies ahead on our journey. He sees what’s coming up and has the ability to guide and direct us down the right path, foreknowing what’s coming our way.On a Grand Canyon raft, photo credit: Nate Loper

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As a river guide taking folks through the Grand Canyon along the Colorado River, it’s not only my job to know what’s coming up, but it’s something I quite enjoy because of the guests on my boat. I get excited for what’s coming around the next bend, because I get to watch the faces of people as they marvel at some new sight or experience. Whether it’s rounding the corner to behold the massive Redwall Cavern, getting folks up into the Travertine Grotto, or seeing the surprising heights of Deer Creek Falls, each new feature to behold creates the excitement of awe and wonder.

While lazily lying back on the boat and gazing up to the skies above, I sometimes wonder to myself if God also gets excited about knowing the things we have “just around the bend” in our lives. As our Great Guide, does He also share in a similar joy when we, as His children, get to experience the life He’s given us in awe and wonder? Does He enjoy watching our faces and reactions to His many blessings?
I think so.

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Written by Canyon Ministries

Canyon Ministries is the premier biblical creation tour guide for the Grand Canyon and beyond. Find out what Nate Loper and the team do and how to visit at Canyon

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