Become a "Nativore"
Forget fry bread. The Tohono O’odham tribe near Tucson is taking back its traditional cuisine with the help of a community farm that grows amaranth, tepary beans, cholla buds, corn, and other indigenous plants. Even better, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort has developed a 90-minute cooking class that not only introduces students to the unusual (and highly nutritious) crops but shows them how to use the ingredients in a Western-influenced dish, such as prickly pear sorbet in cactus-seed cones ($50; loewshotels.com/ventanacanyon
Next: Paddle the Colorado On Your Own
Paddle the Colorado On Your Own
You’ve got at best a 9 percent chance of winning the weighted lottery for a permit to run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Or you can take the sure thing: the forgotten 15-mile stretch between the Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry, the launch point for Grand Canyon rafters—a run that requires
no paperwork or Class V certification. Kayak Powell’s new self-guided two-day trips on this flatwater haven take paddlers through canyons that meld the height of the Grand with Glen’s skyscraper-steep walls and sinewy caves ($119; kayakpowell.com
). And thanks to the dam’s filtration, it’s home to the Southwest’s cleanest waters (and tons of trout). Choose a boat at Kayak Powell’s shop in Page, head to Lees Ferry, and meet tour-and-shuttle operator Colorado River Discovery, which will ferry you 15 miles upstream to Glen Canyon. A piece of advice: Take your time. At the dam, the vertical cliffs rise to about 700 feet; halfway through the trip, they rocket to 1,700. Camp on one of six designated swaths of sand, then watch slivers of stars emerge between narrow canyon walls.
Next: Name the Grand’s Brand-New Falls
Name the Grand’s Brand-New Falls
Last August, a flash flood in the Grand Canyon rerouted Havasu Creek and wiped out 75-foot Navajo Falls, a favorite swimming hole for weary backpackers. In its place: two newly created and yet unnamed cataracts. The Havasupai tribe is busy rebuilding the end of the ten-mile trail to the reservation and plans to reopen it this spring. Join one of veteran outfitter AOA Adventures’ five-day Canyon Adventurer trips to the canyon bottom to see the forces of nature at work ($1,497; aoa-adventures.com
). The hike switchbacks down the south rim of the Grand Canyon, then runs along arroyos and through stepped walls layered in red and beige that rise 3,000 feet from the narrow canyon floor. It steers through the dusty village of Supai, home of the last mule-train-serviced post office in the country, then ends ceremoniously at hundred-foot aqua blue Havasu Falls. The outfitter’s exclusive tented base camp, with linens, a library, and ice for gin and tonics, is staked in a shady grove of cottonwoods by a creek. Before packing out, hikers have four days to explore the remade wildland.