Dozens report illness after visiting Havasupai Falls

Dozens of hikers who visited Havasupai Falls at the bottom of the Grand Canyon this summer are leaving one of America's most treasured national parks with an unknown sickness.

In some cases, groups had to leave the canyon by helicopter because they were unable to hike out.

One of the groups first thought the sickness was an isolated issue, but the experienced backpackers weren’t the only ones in a messy situation.

The Blair family joined a group of 11 and set out on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Grand Canyon to see Havasupai Falls.

"The water's really blue," Mary Blair said. "You don't need a filter."

Forty miles in four days – the trip was planned years in advance and fell on Arizona’s hottest weekend of the year.

"The hike in was not great. I was getting hot," she said.

The trip took a turn on the final night as the group was set to make the 10-mile hike out of the canyon.

Mary’s son got sick first.

"He was throwing up and having diarrhea all night long. I got him in the river. We were in there at midnight, 1 o'clock, just to lower his body temperature," Mary said.

Unbeknownst to them, more people in the group were getting sick that night.

The 2 a.m. wake-up call came quickly, and the group had no choice but to try and get to the helicopter pad two and a half miles away.


Photo courtesy of Wendy Gould

"This kid is a four-star athlete. He is the strongest out of all of us. He was using hiking poles, and he could barely walk," Mary recalled.

While getting to the helicopter, they realized the sickness wasn’t isolated to their group.

"On the way up, all of us were passing people who are throwing up and that's when I was like, what the heck is going on?" Mary said. "There’s probably 60–70 people down the line. There are multiple people throwing up."

It wasn’t until they got home to Colorado and realized over 300 people had posted to Facebook experiencing the same symptoms – uncontrollable vomit and diarrhea.

"Kind of crazy. But yeah, I mean, I probably won't go back down there again, and I've checked it off the list. I don't need to do that again," she said.

Others say a majority of their group ended up getting sick as well.

It's unclear what led to this.

The group of experienced hikers say the conditions were outside the norm.

Mary says nearly 400 people were camping in close quarters and finding sanitary bathrooms was an issue.

Havasupai Falls is located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation within Coconino County.

In 2022, the National Park Service said it was looking into what might've caused more than 100 people to suffer from a stomach bug while visiting the Grand Canyon.