Discover the Majestic Beauty of Havasupai Falls, land of the blue green water
Pai means people, and Havasu Pai means “people of the blue-green water” - this surely was intriguing to us, and we wanted to visit. The Havasupai Tribe lives in the village of Supai, which is accessible via a 8 Miles hike down into the canyon. For over 800 years this tribe has lived in this magical place. Even today about 700-800 members of this tribe live in the Supai village and sustain their lives with farming, fishing, hunting and tourism.
First thing first - Permits
Permits are required because of the large interest in this waterfall hike. There is no day hike options at this place, the minium permit is available for 4 days and 3 nights. You will have to set up an account by 1st February at Havasupai Reservation website and be ready to apply for the dates that work the best as they become available. If you are lucky you will certainly get dates of your choice. If not do not give up, there is a cancel/transfer system that help with any unused or changed plans permits to be made available to others and these keep popping up on the site everyday at 8AM MST, so be sure to look if you did not grab a permit or want to add more people to your group.
The tribe felt lucky to snag the permit for 2020, not knowing how the world will go upside down due to the pandemic. It turned out to be a 3 year wait before we could make the trip down to the land of blue green water - COVID had shut off the reservation for almost 3 years.
Permit Pick Up - Permits can be picked up from the Grand Cavern Inn earliest would be a day before you hike, you will also get your bag/tent tags for your mule reservations and wrist bands for all hikers in the group.
Location: Grand Canyon Caverns in Peach Springs, Arizona (located at Mile Marker 115 Route 66).
Check-in time: check-in hours are 8 am - 5 pm. The earliest your group can check-in is the day before hiking into Havasupai.
Required check-in documents: the designated trip leader must provide, their photo ID and reservation code details
Planning - Step-by-Step Guide
Tribe visited in November, but the peak season is from May-September which surely gets crowed. Monsoon comes from July-August typically so may not be the best time, but the shoulder season in March, April, October, November can be just as nice and lesser crowds can be a bonus. While we loved being their in the shoulder season, keep in mind that temperatures can get a bit cooler and the possibility that it’ll be too cold to swim depending on the year is always there. The preparation for the cooler temperatures will need to be a little bit different given you could also expect some rain, which we did.
While being in the water is super fun in the reservation, be mindful that during the summer months, flash floods in the canyon sometimes do happen and its important to look for signs, weather and plan accordingly. Some other things to consider:
Airport to fly into - If you are flying from out of state then Las Vegas (LAS) or Phoenix (PHX) are about three hours away approximately.
Where to stay before the hike - There is no sleeping in the car allowed at the trailhead. Peach Springs AZ about 60 miles is the nearest town, and Hualapai Lodge we found was an amazing place to spend a restful night before the hike. Seligman, or Flagstaff, AZ has options in case that is something you want to pick but its more than 2 hours to trailhead. Be sure to book your overnight stay ahead or soon after you get your permit dates finalized
Trailhead and Parking: Hualapai Hilltop is where the hike begins, right next to the parking lot. This lot has limited parking space, specially so in the peak season you may have to walk an extra mile to get to the hilltop.
Hike Distance: Hualapai Hilltop, it is 8 miles to the Supai village and 2 additional miles to camping and waterfalls, depending on what location you pick to set up camp. Outdoorsy tribe recorded almost 40 miles over 3 days exploring the place. Very doable for all skill levels from hardcore hikers to first timers and young to old.
Mule Reservations - it’s a backpacking trip, but you do have option to have mules carry your main backpack with all essentials, while you take your daypack. Mules can carry 4 bags each of 32 lbs, mule reservations, sizing and weight requirements are all available on the Havasupai website.
Cellular phone coverage - Expect that most of the hike you will not have coverage, but there are a few spots along the way depending on your carrier you may have some faint coverage.
Cafe at the Supai Village - Yes surprisingly there is a cafe and small grocery store at the village, enjoy some hot fries, burgers and a cold drink before you head to the campground. Of course also ample charging points before you head into camp
Helicopter - Yes another surprise , there is helicopter services for those wanted to skip the hike back up. Be prepared to wait and sometimes the lines are long. Tribal members receive priority boarding. Tourists are boarded on a first-come, first-served basis
The Havasupai tribe are super generous to allow visitors on their beautiful land, without them so many of us would not have seen these waterfalls. The landscape is pristine but fragile. Like any other park it's important to follow the leave no trace behind principle. Besides it's also not allowed to bring alcohol, drones, drugs or firearms into the Havasupai reservation. Enjoy the trails, build memories and respect the land and people who inhibit this land.
No pictures of videos inside the village is allowed, that includes pictures or videos of the property and tribe members.
Havasupai Waterfall hike s a must do for adventure seekers
Hike to the Havasupai Campground
Starting from the Hualapai Hilltop, expect a sharp decent with switchbacks for the first 2 miles which takes you done to the bottom of the canyon. From there its a long gradual gradient among towering rock formations to the Supai Village. Recommendations and one way distances of some adventrous hikes in the area:
Hualapai Hilltop Parking Lot to Supai Village: 8 miles
Supai Village to Havasupai Falls Campground: 2 miles
Other Falls - 50 Foot Falls, Navajo Falls, are on the way to the famous Havasu Falls after you cross the Supai village
Hualapai Hilltop Parking Lot to Havasupai Falls Campground: 10 miles (Strenuous)
Havasupai Falls Campground to Mooney Falls: 0.5 miles - 1 miles (Strenuous, descend on your own risk, involves steep cliffs, ladders and river crossings)
Havasupai Falls Campground to Beaver Falls : 2 miles (strenuous, involves steep cliffs, ladders and river crossings)
Mooney Falls to the Colorado River: 8 miles ( strenuous, involves steed cliffs, ladders, ropes and river crossings). If you plan to take this hike make sure to leave early and return in daylight, the route can be tricky in the night
Travel Tips and Reminders for Havasupai Falls Hike
Water source - There’s no water on the trail, make sure to carry your own. Usually 2-3 liters based on weather and your intake needs would suffice. Also good idea to carry electrolytes, specailly during warmer weathers. The campground has a spring which will be the water source when you get down and set up camp.
Ranger Table - there is a ranger table at the beginning of the campground on the right, this has stuff that other campers left behind, you can find water shoes, fuel cans, other items that can be used on as need basis. Do not count on this, but this sure can be a backup in case you end up needing stuff.
Campsite - The campsite begins at the base of Havasu Falls and runs all the way to the top of Mooney Falls. Campsites are all first come, first serve. Take your pick, ours was right by the river. There are picnic tables along the campsite, which is super useful while you cook
Storing Food - Its best not to leave anything on the picnic tables, make sure to hang items on a tree and carry bear cans or critter proof bags for all your food items. While there are no bears, there is enough wildlife that tends to go through food at night
Bathroom - by the entrance, in the middle, and at the far end near Mooney Falls. We camped closer to the water source and accessed the bathrooms at the entrance. They were very clean and had ample toilet paper. No showers are available though.
Trash - its important to know that you need to carry your trash out to Supai Village at a bare minimum. There are no trash cans at the camp, make sure to carry trash bags
Grateful to finally be able to visit this amazing bucket list destination, these travel tips have everything you need to know for preparing and planning your bucket list Havasupai Hike.
It is so worth it to visit and soak in the blue geen water against the red rocks backdrop! It almost feels photoshopped and unreal but that is what makes it super exclusive.
Learning's from the tribe - More than worth the wait, the land is magical, and certainly something to cherish all life.