The first time I saw pictures of Havasu Falls, I thought they were fake. I later learned that the water turned blue due to the presence of limestone in the rocks underneath. I knew several people in my hiking group that had gone there and I really wanted to go see it in person. Seeing it on Instagram is just not the same.
To get there, you have to get to Supai Village in the Havasupai Indian Reservation located in the southwest part of the Grand Canyon. The journey beings at Hualapai Hilltop and you have to hike eight miles to get to the village and another two miles to get to the campground. There is no way to drive in.
In addition, there’s this whole process to getting a reservation to go to the Havasupai Indian Reservation where the falls are located.
How to get a reservation:
Reservations for the year start on February 1st. You have to call (yep, you have to dial the number and actually call) to get a reservation. Guess what? Thousands (feels like millions) will be calling at the same time. I called repeatedly every day that week and could not get through. Luckily, a very persistent friend of mine did get through and I was able to go with her group.
Here are the numbers to call: 928-448-2121, 928-448-2141 or 928-448-2180. The hours to call are from 9:00am to 4:00pm MST.
How many nights should you reserve? I definitely recommend going for 3 nights. The day you get there, you have to hike 10 miles to get to the campground, and you wont really get to do much. You’ll have the next two days to do other hikes and explore the area and the next day, you’ll have to hike out and drive home.
My group drove out on Wednesday and stayed the night at the Grand Canyon. From there, we drove to the trailhead, hiked in on Thursday and stayed until Sunday. It can get crowded on the weekends, so if you can get the time off, I recommend driving to Arizona on Saturday, hiking in on Sunday and staying until Wednesday.
Entrance Fee – $35/person
Camping Fee – $17/night pp
Environmental Fee – $5/person
Fees are non-negotiable and are subject to change without notice. No discounts. A 10% tax is added to total fee amount. Anyone wishing to enter without reservations may be charged double the total amount.
What if I show up without a reservation? So if you decide to forego the entire process I just elaborated on above, you can choose to do the 10-mile hike into the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Two things can happen. They can either let you in and have you pay double the fees or they can turn you away and you’ll have to hike back. Good luck with that.
What if I can’t hike the 10 miles to get there? So there’s no way to drive there, but you can take the helicopter. If you can get over being smirked at by all the hikers doing the 10-mile hike, you can pay $80 per way to get flown from the trailhead to the Village. And if you get injured while you’re there, you have the option to take the helicopter out.
You also have the option to have your stuff carried down by the horses or flown in by helicopter. The fee for the horse is around $30 per pack per way. You’ll have to call the office to get a reservation for your packs as well.
Here’s some things to keep in mind if your stuff gets carried down by the horses:
Someone might take your pack by accident. Yes, this actually happened to me. When we got to the campground, every one else’s packs were there waiting for them. There is staff there watching the items, so they said someone else probably took my pack by accident. Which is really hard to believe because usually it’s one pack per person and you know which one is your pack. They radio-ed it in and it wasn’t left at the trailhead so some people went to look for it.
Fortunately, I followed my instincts and my senses told me to go through the campground to find people who were just setting up their tents. About a quarter of a mile away, I saw a group setting up and went up to them to see if I can spot my backpack. Sure enough, it was there and they weren’t even aware that they had taken someone’s stuff for the next four days. One of the guys carried my pack back to our campground for me and even had the audacity to ask me out. I told him I was happily engaged and didn’t need any friend (especially the ones who would take someone else’s pack, not cool).
Your stuff might not be at the trailhead when you get there. We left the campground at 6:30am to get an early start and started arriving at the trailhead around 10:30am. It took 3 hours for all our group’s belongings to get to the trailhead as some came by horse and some by helicopter.
I’m not really into camping, is there a hotel I can stay at? There is a lodge, but it’s located at the Village. You’ll have to hike another two miles to get to Havasu Falls and hike uphill every time you need to get back to the lodge.
What to Pack
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to be provided with hiking gear and camping equipment by L.L. Bean. I fully support and recommend their products because they offer a lifetime guarantee on everything. Some places only do this for a year or two and we all know that is when the stuff starts breaking down. They will send you a replacement or a new model with no questions asked. This is so important especially because you know they make quality products that will last or they will replace it at no cost to you! I’ve added links to my personal gear that I’ve been using on all my hikes.
Sleeping Bag – A 20 degree was perfect for the trip in April
Stove + Propane
Backpacking Food – My favorite backpacking food ever. I would eat this at home.
Hiking Food: Granola Bars/Snacks
Hydration Bladder – I always take 3L no matter what.
Water Filter – There is a natural spring, but just in case. I used it on the hike to the Colorado River.
Hiking Clothes: Lots of Layers
Flashlight or Head Lamp
First Aid Kit
The Hike to Supai Village
The hike from Hualapai Hilltop to the Havasupai Village is a fun one. You’ll descend for the first 1.5-2 miles until you get to the canyon floor. It’s easy but remember that you’ll have to hike this incline to get back to your car. It’s a well-maintained trail and what makes it difficult is when it’s really hot.
You’ll be sharing the trail with horses so make sure you yield to them and stay to the safe side (the side where you won’t fall off). You might see some dogs on the trail, these are Village dogs and are very friendly and know the way.
Once you get to the village, you can grab a bite to eat and have some hot, freshly made fry bread. Be prepared to pay higher prices for everything including soda and basic toiletries. You can pretty much buy everything here if you forgot to bring something, but you will have to deal with the higher price tag.
You’ll have to check in at the tourist office to get wristbands. If you’re wondering, they do check your wristbands. They checked ours the very next day on the way to the Colorado River.
When you get to the campground, you’ll see that there’s a store where you can buy cold drink and more fry bread. You can also buy some hot food like tacos and burgers. You will pick up your bags here if you arranged to have them brought down by the horses. There are wheel barrows for you to borrow to take your bags to your campsite.
The campsites are first come, first served. The campground is about a mile to two miles long so you can take your time in choosing one. You can choose one that’s along the main trail or you can choose one that’s more secluded. Keep in mind that while we were there, we heard and saw rocks falling from the canyon wall. You may not want to camp too close as some rocks may fall down and hit you.
Also, while I was there a robbery had taken place. People reported their gear missing from their packs and the tribe members went around telling everyone to keep their stuff in their tents when they were not at the campgrounds. There was federal police on site and it was very unfortunate that this was happening here.
Little Navajo Falls & Big Navajo Falls
A mile past the Havasupai Village you’ll get to the nearest waterfalls, Little Navajo Falls. You may be able to see Big Navajo Falls too which is a little hidden located in the back. A mile past these waterfalls, you’ll see the amazing Havasu Falls. You can really see the bright, blue water and take a great photo from where you first see it.
We went to these falls on our second day there. A few of us went swimming at the Little Navajo Falls. The water was cold but it was worth it.
Havasu Falls is the closest waterfalls to the campground and is only a short walk away. The power and rush of the waterfall is so strong that it is spraying water when you get close to it and it’s dangerous to swim to close to it as you might get swept in underneath.
On our third day, a couple of us went to Havasu Falls early in the morning to do some yoga. It was quiet and peaceful, except for the sound of the waterfall which proved to be quite meditative. Others came later and were practicing meditation.
If you continue past the campground for about a half mile, you’ll arrive at the top of Mooney Falls. It’s absolutely breathtaking and seeing the blue water never gets old. To get to the bottom, you’ll have to descend the canyon even further and it’s quite a journey on the way down. There are tunnels, chains, and ladders as it’s not a typical walk-down trail. Be careful as it’s often wet and slippery!
When you pass Mooney Falls, you’ll stumble upon my favorite parts of the hike. There are so many water crossing and beautiful spots to take a swim. If you hike four miles from the campground, you’ll get to Beaver Falls. There are some tricky parts with ladders and chains here too, so be careful and watch your step.
If you’re not going to the Colorado River, you can descend from the trail and spend some time here. Our group was headed to the river, so we saw Beaver Falls from afar and took pictures of it from the trail.
Right after Beaver Falls was one we ran into some tribe staff who checked our wristbands. This is where you are leaving the Havasupai reservation and crossing into the Grand Canyon. There are many river crossings on the way and different types of terrain.
Once you get there, you will see the junction and where the water goes from blue, to white and to a dark green. There’s also an amazing photo opportunity where you can get a photo in between the canyon. But, you will have to brave the cold waters to do so.
Luckily, it’s only cold in the green water and gets warmer when you get into the blue water. It’s definitely worth the picture!
Keep in mind that you have to hike back to the campground, so you want to make sure you get back in time before dark. It was also a little bit rainy when we went so we wanted to make sure the weather didn’t turn bad or that we weren’t in any danger of a flash flood.
I definitely recommend doing the Colorado River hike on the first full day that you have. The next day, we went to Havasu Falls early in the morning while no one was there. We also explored the Big Navajo Falls and the Little Navajo Falls. I got to go swimming in this beautiful area right underneath the Little Navajo Falls. The water was cold, but you got used to it after a while.
Overall, it was a truly amazing trip. It was great to immerse myself in nature, be unplugged for several days and experience the beauty of the wilderness.
Hiking gear, clothing and shoes were provided by L.L.Bean. All opinions are my own.