Supai, AZ

Havasupai Indian Tribe


The Havasupai Indians live in a 3,000-foot-deep canyon on the western edge of the Grand Canyon’s south rim. Their home, in the Village of Supai, is considered the most remote community in the lower 48.

They also have one of the most unique multimodal transportation systems you’ll find. With no cars in their community, foot travel, horses, pack mules and helicopters are what transport people, goods, and solid waste.

It’s this last item, solid waste, that first had the Tribe considering adding an aerial tram to their transportation mix. The Tribe’s current method for handling waste is problematic. It’s stored and sorted on the canyon floor, a fragile environment that is subject to flash floods, before being hauled out by mule or helicopter.

SCJ’s Engineering Specialties Group (ESG) evaluated if a cable system might be a viable option for getting the solid waste out of the canyon. The Solid Waste Cable Network Study assessed solid waste disposal needs, cable system alternatives, location options and visual impacts. It also considered the feasibility of using a cable system for transporting more than waste – tribal members, needed materials and supplies, and visitors.

The study supported ongoing operation and maintenance costs of a new tribal owned ropeway system, being offset by the current costs associated with removal of solid waste and tribal costs to import goods, as well as potential revenue from transporting people and materials. The suggested system also reduces environmental hazards in the village and improves employee safety and health.