THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO VISITING HAVASUPAI
Welcome to Newenglandwaterfalls.com's ultimate guide to visiting Havasu Falls / Havasupai in Arizona!
Located in northwestern Arizona and within close proximity of the Grand Canyon, Havasupai is undoubtedly one of the greatest places on earth. The blue-green waterfalls and swimming holes of Havasu Creek are unlike anything you've ever seen. This is the definition of a bucket-list hike, and tourists from around the world compete to obtain coveted permits to visit.
Hopefully this guide helps you get the most out of your trip to this special place. If you have any additional ideas for this page, or if you believe any of this information needs updating, please email me at email@example.com or make a comment at the bottom of this page using the Facebook social plug-in.
In addition to reading this online guide, you should seriously consider purchasing the Exploring Havasupai guidebook.
THE WATERFALLS OF HAVASUPAI
There are five major waterfalls to be found in Havasupai. A few of them (like Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls) are widely considered to be world-class in their beauty. The phrase "Shangri-la of the Grand Canyon" is often used to describe this place.
The falls are listed below in the order that they are seen as you hike from the village of Supai downstream to the Colorado River.
It's tough for me pick a favorite waterfall at Havasupai because they each have different characteristics. If I were forced to choose, it would probably be Beaver Falls. The hike to Beaver Falls is wonderful and less than half of the visitors to the Havasupai Indian Reservation make the 6.0 mile round-trip trek there from the campground.
- Upper Navajo Falls (also called "Fifty Foot Falls" and "New Navajo Falls")
- 50 feet tall
- created by the massive flood and mudslides of 2008
- offers outstanding swimming opportunities, and is typically less crowded than the other swimming holes
- located about 1.0 mile below the village of Supai and about 0.8 mile upstream of Havasu Falls
- this is the closest major waterfall to the village of Supai
- Lower Navajo Falls (also called "Little Navajo Falls" and "Rock Falls")
- 30 feet tall
- also created by the massive flood and mudslides of 2008
- offers outstanding swimming opportunities, although many areas are shallow
- located about 0.15 mile downstream of Upper Navajo Falls
- Havasu Falls
- 96 feet tall
- the most famous of all of Havasupai's waterfalls
- offers outstanding swimming opportunities
- located just before the start of the campground (about 1.8 miles downstream of the village of Supai)
- Mooney Falls
- 196 feet tall
- offers excellent swimming opportunities, although swimming here can be dangerous due to circulating currents
- reaching the base of the falls requires a steep scramble down a cliff wall (some chains and ladders are in place to assist you)
- located just beyond the end of the campground and 0.5 mile downstream of Havasu Falls
- Beaver Falls
- 5 tiers of waterfalls that drop a total of about 40 feet
- offers outstanding swimming opportunities
- located 3.0 miles downstream of Mooney Falls
- a rough and rocky 6.0 mile round-trip hike from the campground is required to visit (several stream crossings are required)
- hiking to Beaver Falls is not recommended in summer due to the extreme heat
Here are several of the tiered waterfalls you will find at Beaver Falls
AN OVERVIEW OF VISITING HAVASUPAI
Here is a high-level overview of one common way that people visit Havasupai.
- SECURE YOUR PERMITS - Obtain your permits for a two or three night stay at Havasupai either online or via phone as soon as they go on sale for the year.
- BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS - Book a flight to Las Vegas and a rental car from a rental agency that is located at the centralized McCarran Rent-A-Car Center.
- TRAIN FOR YOUR HIKE - Train for your hike by taking long hikes or walks, preferably with a loaded pack on your back.
- FLY INTO LAS VEGAS - Fly into McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- PICK UP YOUR RENTAL CAR - Take a free shuttle bus from the airport to the McCarran Rent-A-Car Center and pick up your rental car (2WD is fine).
- DRIVE TO ARIZONA & STOCK UP - Drive 2-3 hours southeast from Las Vegas into Arizona and stock up on food and supplies at the Walmart Supercenter in Kingman, Arizona.
- STAY THE NIGHT - Stay the night in a campground or hotel in one of these three Arizona towns: Kingman, Peach Springs, or Seligman. Peach Springs is by far the closest option.
- PACK YOUR BACKPACK - Pack your backpack before you go to sleep so that you don't waste time in the morning and risk hiking in the maximum heat of the day.
- DRIVE TO THE TRAILHEAD - Wake up very early and drive 1.5-2.5 hours to Hualapai Hilltop (the trailhead for the hike to Havasupai). Aim to arrive between 3:00am-4:00am. There is a vault restroom at the trailhead but there are no other facilities.
- START HIKING - Start your hike down from Hualapai Hilltop between 3:00am-5:00am using headlamps to light your way along the well-traveled trail. You'll drop about 1,000 feet on switchbacks within the first 1.0 mile or so.
- HIKE TO THE VILLAGE - Hike for 8.0 miles from the trailhead and arrive in the village of Supai.
- CHECK-IN - Find the Tourist/Campground Office within the village of Supai and check-in. The office has historically opened at 6:00am from May through October, and 7:00am at all other times of the year.
- HIKE TO THE FALLS - After checking-in, hike 2.0 additional miles downstream to reach Havasu Falls, and very soon after, the campground. Along the way, check out 50-foot Upper Navajo Falls and 30-foot Lower Navajo Falls.
- FIND A CAMPSITE - Hike 0.2 mile downstream of Havasu Falls to enter the campground. Over the next 0.3 mile or so, find yourself an open campsite, preferably one with a picnic table if there is one available.
- FILL UP ON WATER - Fill up on water at Fern Spring, which is marked by a sign on the western wall of the canyon within the campground. This water source has long been considered as safe.
- ENJOY THE FALLS - Enjoy the waterfalls and swimming holes! If temperatures are expected to be reasonable, consider hiking to Beaver Falls or even The Confluence if you have the time and energy while you are there.
- HIKE BACK OUT - Depart the campground between 3:00am-5:00am and hike 10.0 miles back up to the trailhead.
Fern Spring, which is the primary source of drinking and cooking water in the campground
OBTAINING HAVASUPAI RESERVATIONS
Overnight advance reservations are required to visit Havasupai. To visit Havasupai, you either make a lodging reservation or you make a campground reservation. When you book a stay at the lodge or the campground, your permit automatically includes the ability to visit all of the waterfalls of Havasupai.
Before you read the rest of this section, understand that the process for securing Havasupai reservations changes fairly frequently and that you should always defer to checking the official website of the Havasupai Tribe to understand the latest reservation policies and procedures.
For the last few years, camping reservations have gone on sale on February 1st at 8:00am (Arizona time) and have sold out for the entire year in less than fifteen minutes. The entire world is now trying to get reservations, and there's a very strong chance that it will take you several years to score some.
In 2018, the majority of reservations to visit Havasupai were made online. However, it was also possible to make them over the phone in 2018 (if you could actually get through).
For 2019, you must create an account on www.havasupaireservations.com. You can create an account starting after January 8, 2019.
If you are lucky enough to obtain reservations, keep photos of the permits on your smartphone or to play it really safe, print them out and bring them with you.
Many people want to know what the "best" time to Havasupai is. The answer to this is subjective.
For the best swimming hole experience, mid-June through mid-September will offer the highest air temperatures.
For the best combination of reasonable hiking temperatures and still-swimmable temperatures, try mid-to-late May or early-to-mid October.
If you don't really care about swimming, I'd recommend visiting in April or November.
GETTING TO HAVASUPAI
Getting to Havasupai can be a little challenging. There is no public transportation that will get you to Hualapai Hilltop, which is the trailhead for Havasupai.
Here are your choices for airports if you will be flying into the American Southwest to visit Havasupai:
From these airports, you will need to rent a car and drive to the Hualapai Hilltop trailhead at the end of Indian Road #18 in Arizona. Take Indian Road #18 north for about 60 miles (80 minutes) from AZ 66 on the eastern side of the town of Peach Springs.
- Major Airports
- Las Vegas, Nevada (this is closest major airport and it is my recommended option)
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Minor Airports
- Flagstaff, Arizona (this is closest airport, but it can be significantly more expensive to fly into)
The driving distance from Flagstaff, Arizona to the Hualapai Hilltop trailhead is 170 miles (approximately 3.0-3.5 hours of driving).
The driving distance from Las Vegas, Nevada to the Hualapai Hilltop trailhead is 221 miles (approximately 4.0-5.0 hours of driving).
The driving distance from Phoenix, Arizona to the Hualapai Hilltop trailhead is 260 miles (approximately 4.5-5.5 hours of driving).
The driving distance from Albuquerque, New Mexico to the Hualapai Hilltop trailhead is 490 miles (approximately 7.5-8.5 hours of driving).
There are no roads to Havasupai and the reservation is not within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park.
Once you reach the Hualapai Hilltop trailhead, there are two primary ways to get down to Havasupai:
The majority of people hike down to Havasupai. Helicopters can be a viable option, but you should be aware of the following:
- 8.0 mile one-way hike to the village of Supai and then a 2.0 mile one-way hike past Havasu Falls to the campground
- 15-minute helicopter ride to the village of Supai and then a 2.0 mile one-way hike past Havasu Falls to the campground
You can also take a mule down to Havasupai, but there are weight limits and it is expensive. More information on hiring a mule can be found here.
- You can't make helicopter reservations and flights are first-come, first-served (with locals getting preference over tourists).
- You typically have to wait several hours for a helicopter flight. I've heard one story where somebody waited 7 hours.
- The entire helicopter wait-list and boarding process is unorganized and it often frustrates people. You can read some stories here.
- Although it seems like credit cards are accepted, cash is recommended for the helicopter flights.
- The helicopter only flies between the trailhead and the village of Supai. If you take the helicopter, you will still need to hike 1.8 miles downstream to see Havasu Falls and another 0.5 mile to reach Mooney Falls.
- The helicopter isn't flown every day, and it's tough (impossible?) to figure out when it is going to fly.
You cannot take any mountain bikes or motorized vehicles to Havasupai.
A makeshift wooden bridge on the (optional) hike to Beaver Falls
WHERE TO STAY THE NIGHT BEFORE YOU VISIT HAVASUPAI
The following two hotels offer the closest lodging to the Hualapai Hilltop, which is the trailhead for the hike to Havasupai.
In addition to the two hotels listed above, there are also many lodging choices in nearby Kingman, Arizona (roughly 120 miles / 2-1/2 hours from the trailhead) and also a few in Seligman, Arizona (roughly 90 miles / 1-3/4 hours from the trailhead).
- Caverns' Inn @ Grand Canyon Caverns
- located in Peach Springs, Arizona
- 48 unit motel room located at the entrance to the Grand Canyon Caverns
- 66 miles / 80-90 minutes from the trailhead
- Hualapai Lodge
- located in Peach Springs, Arizona
- 54 rooms
- 68 miles / 80-90 minutes from the trailhead
There are also some campgrounds in Seligman and Kingman, including KOA Kampgrounds in both locations.
HIKING TO HAVASUPAI
The hike down to Havasupai and Havasu Falls is 10.0 miles one-way and it drops nearly 2,400 feet of elevation. The entire trail to Havasu Falls is relatively easy to follow (no map is required) and guidebook authors often rate it as being moderate in difficulty. If you don't have much hiking experience (or any at all), it will likely seem harder than that. No scrambling is required to reach Havasu Falls, the village, or the campground, but there is a steep down-climb required to reach the base of Mooney Falls.
Most of the elevation loss on the hike occurs in the first mile from the trailhead. The trail descends moderately steeply along switchbacks.
There are only a few shaded spots between the trailhead and the village of Supai (8.0 miles away).
This is why most people will start hiking very early (between 3:00-6:00am) in the hotter months of the year for both the trip down and back up.
There are no water sources for the first seven miles of the hike down. Bring at least 2L of water (preferably 3L).
Most people can cover the 10.0 miles from the trailhead to the campground in about 5-6 hours. Fast hikers will take less time (4-5 hours) and slow hikers will take more time (6-7 hours) than that. Hiking back out takes most people 30-60 minutes or so more than it took them on the hike down.
Here is a list of hiking distances and elevations from various key points along the hike to Havasupai and its various destinations. This list covers the trail all the way from the Hualapai Hilltop trailhead down to the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon:
A very steep scramble down a precipitous cliff wall is required if you want to reach the base of Mooney Falls and/or to continue downstream. There are various chains and ladders in place to assist you with this, but it is still fairly challenging. Those with a strong fear of heights may freak out and return back to the top. Those with a moderate fear of heights should be OK, especially if you can provide them with a little positive coaching. Some people will bring gloves with rubber-ish material to assist them with the climb down and back up.
- Hualapai Hilltop trailhead / start of the hike = 0.0 miles (elevation = 5,200 feet)
- Approach Havasu Creek for the first time = 6.7 miles (elevation = 3,240 feet)
- Village of Supai / Tourist Office = 8.0 miles (elevation = 3,190 feet)
- Upper Navajo Falls = 9.0 miles (elevation = 3,095 feet)
- Lower Navajo Falls = 9.15 miles (elevation = 3,018 feet)
- Havasu Falls = 9.8 miles (elevation = 2,812 feet)
- Start of Campground = 10.0 miles (elevation = 2,741 feet)
- End of Campground = 10.3 miles (elevation = 2,708 feet)
- Mooney Falls = 10.4 miles (elevation = 2,607 feet)
- Take note that most visitors only hike to Mooney Falls. Beaver Falls and The Confluence are considered bonus hikes and are not part of the normal Havasupai experience. Hiking beyond Mooney Falls should only be undertaken by experienced hikers during times of cooler weather. I do not recommend hiking beyond Mooney Falls from mid-June through mid-September or any other day where extreme temperatures are forecast.
- Beaver Falls = 13.00 miles (elevation = 2,246 feet)
- The Confluence = 16.00 miles (elevation = 1,820 feet)
Beaver Falls and The Confluence are considered optional hikes and should only be done by strong hikers in cooler months. Reaching these two special places requires a rough and rocky hike that can be a little tough to follow at times. There are some areas with steep scrambling, several ladders to ascend/descend, and you'll cross Havasu Creek on several makeshift bridges. If you hike to The Confluence, you will want to start immediately at sunrise in order to make it back before sunset (bring headlamps just in case you don't make it back in time).
If you want to hike all the way to The Confluence, I recommend you read www.girlonahike.com's excellent trip report. On her trip report, you will see photographs of key points along the hike, including some important markers to ensure that you stay on the proper route.
A trail map of Havasupai can be found on the tribe's official website here. Unfortunately, the Tribe's trail map is currently out-of-date as it has not been updated to reflect the 2008 flood that destroyed Navajo Falls and created Upper and Lower Navajo Falls in its place.
Another trail map of Havasupai can be found here.
The notorious scramble to the bottom of Mooney Falls (rubber-ish gloves are optional but helpful)
The Havasupai campground surrounds Havasu Creek and is a beautiful place to stay.
The campground offers the following features:
Camping is "dispersed" style, meaning you can essentially camp wherever you want. You can find suitable campsites on both sides of Havasu Creek. There are several makeshift wooden bridges in place to get you across the creek.
- Many flat and well-shaded campsites
- Lots of trees suitable for a hammock
- Composting toilets
- Picnic tables (select sites only)
- Drinking and cooking water (via Fern Spring on the western wall of the canyon; look for water flowing out of a pipe in the wall)
- Easy access to Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, and a bunch of smaller falls and swimming holes in-between
You cannot reserve a specific campsite at Havasupai. All sites are first-come, first-served.
Because only some of the campsites offer a picnic table, parties sometimes move around to upgrade campsites during their stay.
The campground starts about 0.2 mile downstream of Havasu Falls and extends for about 0.3 mile. Just beyond the end of the campground you will find Mooney Falls. There are no campsites upstream of Havasu Falls or below Mooney Falls. You can camp anywhere you want between the start of the campground and the final pit toilets above Mooney Falls.
The campground is a very busy place. Up to 300 people are allowed to stay there on any given night. The Tribe used to only allow 250 people back in the 2000s, but this was increased at some point. On busy nights, there may be instances where other parties may decide to camp very close to you due to a lack of a more private space.
You have to be extremely careful with your food and gear in the campground. Mice, raccoons, and especially squirrels can be ultra-aggressive in trying to get a free meal. Critter bags, bear canisters, or rugged plastic buckets (with strong lids) are highly, highly recommended. These critters can and will easily eat through backpacks, tents, coolers, plastic water bottles, etc. Do not ignore this advice as there are people every single night who lose food to these critters and have their gear ruined. If you use a rugged plastic bucket, put a large rock on top of it.
It can be lovely to camp directly beside Havasu Creek, but I don't recommend this during the monsoon season (July through early September). During this time, I recommend camping on higher ground (if you can find any; there are only a few campsites that are elevated).
is your best bet for obtaining drinking water. The spring is fed through a pipe on the western wall of the campground. It is generally regarded as safe and most people do not boil or filter it. I have never had anyone in my groups have a problem with it.
Campground reservations for 2018 went on sale on February 1, 2018.
This does not guarantee that they will go on sale on this date in the future. In fact, the Havasupai Tribe is constantly updating their processes. I recommend checking the official website of the Havasupai tribe for the next upcoming on-sale date.
Campfires are never allowed in the campground.
One of many creekside campsites to be found within the Havasupai campground
There is only one lodging opportunity near Havasu Falls and that's the Havasupai Lodge. The closest waterfall to Havasupai Lodge is Upper Navajo Falls, which is about a mile downstream of the lodge.
Each of the 24 rooms at the Havasupai Lodge offers two double beds and a maximum of four people. The room is extremely basic but most travelers have commented that the lodge was clean.
The lodge itself offers no food services. There is no restaurant on-site and no breakfast is served.
There is a cafe, a small store, and a general store within the village, but the hours are limited and they can be unpredictable. The Sinyella Store is the first one you will approach as you enter Supai village. The general store is near the center of the village.
The hike between the lodge and Havasu Falls is 1.8 miles one-way. The hike is sandy and because it offers little shade, it is often extremely hot.
If you plan on staying at the lodge, make sure you understand the accepted range of check-in times (you don't want to arrive too early or too late). Many people hike down to the village and lodge early in the morning and then they will either (a) hang around the village for a few hours or (b) hike down and back up from the falls.
More information about Havasupai Lodge, including current pricing, can be found on the tribe's official website. You can read traveler's reviews of the lodge on hotel review websites like TripAdvisor.
Lodge reservations for 2019 went on sale on June 1, 2018. This does not guarantee that they will go on sale on this date in the future. In fact, the Havasupai Tribe is constantly updating their processes. I recommend checking the official website of the Havasupai tribe for the next upcoming on-sale date.
Havasupai is notoriously hot in the summer. It can also be scorchingly hot on select days in the spring and fall seasons as well. There are typically some days each year where temperatures in the canyon exceed a whopping 110°F. I personally find hiking above 90°F to be suffocating and uncomfortable.
The average temperatures of Havasupai are as follows:
Based on my experiences, the high temperature of the day is typically reached by about 10:00-11:00am. I recommend starting your hike (down or up) between 3:00-5:00am from June through September so that you aren't hiking at this time.
- January - 53°F high / 27°F low (12°C / -3°C)
- February - 60°F high / 32°F low (16°C / 0°C)
- March - 67°F high / 37°F low (19°C / 3°C)
- April - 75°F high / 43°F low (24°C / 6°C)
- May - 86°F high / 50°F low (30°C / 10°C)
- June - 96°F high / 60°F low (36°C / 16°C)
- July - 99°F high / 66°F low (37°C / 19°C)
- August - 99°F high / 64°F low (37°C / 18°C)
- September - 89°F high / 56°F low (32°C / 13°C)
- October - 78°F high / 46°F low (26°C / 8°C)
- November - 64°F high / 35°F low (18°C / 2°C)
- December - 53°F high / 27°F low (12°C / -3°C)
Always check the weather the night before your hike so that you can adjust your hiking start time accordingly. The hotter the temperatures are expected to be, the earlier you should try to start hiking. Take note that temperatures exceeding 90 degrees can occur in the shoulder seasons. Nearly all days during the summer season are extremely hot.
Keep in mind that the average water temperature at all of the waterfalls floats around 68-72 degrees year-round. Since the waterfalls are fed by an aquifer, the water temperature doesn't really vary much throughout the year.
96-foot Havasu Falls
GUIDED HIKING TRIPS TO HAVASUPAI
Most folks that have previous backpacking experience will have no issue hiking down and exploring Havasupai and all of its waterfalls on their own. The risk of getting lost on the trail is extremely low and if something happens there are usually other people around to assist you.
Some people who have never gone backpacking may want to consider signing up for a guided hiking trip. In my mind, if you have basic hiking skills and are reasonably fit, you shouldn't really need a guide.
Here are the pros and cons of hiking to Havasupai with a guide:
- PROS - why should I hire a hiking guide?
- it is far easier to get permits to visit Havasupai (the guides already have the permits)
- guides often cook / prepare meals for their guests
- guides are trained on how to provide a safe and enjoyable trip
- you may meet new and interesting people in the group
- gear (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, camp chairs, etc.) may be provided by, or available to be rented from, the guide
- CONS - why shouldn't I hire a hiking guide?
- the trail is easy to follow and the risk of getting lost is very low
- guides are extremely expensive (and you should tip them)
- you may not get much control as to where you want to go and when; the guides may have a set schedule that all must adhere to
- you may not get along well with others in the group
Mooney Falls in all its glory
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR HAVASUPAI EXPERIENCE
Make your first trip to Havasupai the best experience it can be. Follow these tips and I can almost guarantee you'll have an outstanding experience.
- STAY 2+ NIGHTS - Book a reservation that is at least 2 nights. 99% of people who have visited will agree that 1 night is simply not enough. 3 nights is my personal recommendation.
- BE AWARE OF THE RISK OF FLOODING - Havasu Creek is prone to massive and potentially dangerous flooding. There seems to be a major flooding event every 5-10 years. The flooding is most common during the monsoon season, which is roughly from mid-June through early-September. If you see Havasu Creek rising quickly or changing colors, you need to immediate seek and stay on higher ground.
- TRAIN FOR YOUR HIKE - If you can hike 10 miles at home, you will likely be able to safely hike to Havasupai. I recommending taking some practice hikes and/or long walks to train for this backpacking trip.
- HIKE EARLY - Start your hike before 6:00am from early-June through late-September. If you start later than this your hike will likely be extremely hot and there's a chance you could get yourself into trouble (e.g. heat exhaustion, heat stroke, etc.).
- DON'T RELY ON A HELICOPTER RIDE - Do not rely on a helicopter to transport you back to the trailhead. Instead, always be prepared to hike back out. The wait to take a helicopter is often many hours and sometimes the night falls before everyone is transported out.
- PACK LIGHT - Pack as light as possible. Before the trip, lay out everything you want to bring and then only pack what you truly need.
- EAT SALTY FOODS - Eat salty foods before and during your hike to and from Havasupai. You need the salt to retain water in this extremely dry environment.
- BRING WATER SHOES - Bring closed-toe water shoes for the waterfalls and swimming holes. You should treat this as a requirement.
- DRINK TONS OF WATER - Force yourself to drink plenty of water on both the hike in and out, even if your water isn't cold. I've seen some people vomiting along the trail because they did not drink enough.
- FOLLOW THE "HAVASUPAI AND HAVASU FALLS" FACEBOOK GROUP - Join the "Havasupai and Havasu Falls" Facebook group several weeks or months before your hike. Watch and learn as folks share their adventures and tips.
- BRING LOTS OF FOOD - Bring a little more food than you think you'll need. The squirrels and raccoons may steal some, and you will likely be very hungry after the long hike into Havasupai.
- PROTECT YOUR FOOD - Bring a bear canister or a rugged plastic bucket to ward off hungry critters. Food is stolen, and gear is chewed through, on a daily basis down there.
- HIKE TO BEAVER FALLS - Do the optional 6.0 mile round-trip hike to Beaver Falls if you have the time and energy.
- BRING SOME CASH - Bring cash for food and supplies in the village and also for the beloved Frybread hut near the campground.
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR FEET - You've got to take good care of your feet in order to avoid losing toenails and creating painful blisters. Wear good hiking shoes or boots with non-cotton socks (Darn Tough and SmartWool are my favorite brands). Bring moleskin, band-aids/bandages, and duct tape in case you do get blisters. Lastly, trim your toenails before you begin your hike.
- DRIVE SLOWLY - While it can be tempting to drive a gazillion miles-per-hour to the Hualapai Hilltop trailhead on Indian Road #18, take note that much of the area is open range and that cattle, deer, and elk are sometimes found right in the middle of the road. You've been warned!
- LEAVE A COOLER IN YOUR VEHICLE - Consider keeping a cooler in your vehicle filled with fresh ice and some drinks. Cover the cooler with blankets and/or towels. The idea behind this is to enjoy some cold drinks in a few days after you have hiked back up.
Looking down canyon as you descend from the trailhead
HAVASUPAI RULES & REGULATIONS
Visitors to Havasupai are asked to abide by the following rules:
In addition to the "rules", you should also follow strict leave-no-trace ("LNT") principles. If you don't know what those or, or need a refresher, here's a link.
- Please do not photograph the village or residents of Havasupai.
- Please do not attempt to stay longer than your permit allows.
- Please do not attempt to bring additional people beyond the # allowed on your permit.
- Nudity is not tolerated.
- No hiking at night (except on the hike in or out)
- The following are prohibited in Havasupai:
- Alcohol (if found, it will be confiscated)
- Wood-burning fires (however, propane stoves are OK)
- Drones (if found, it will be confiscated)
- Cliff-jumping off the major waterfalls
- Hiking off-trail
- Amplified music
- Littering (this should be obvious, but unfortunately you will likely see lots of trash left by others)
Day trips are no longer permitted to Havasupai or Havasu Falls. There was a time where you could do a 20+ mile day hike to visit Havasupai, but that is no longer the case. All trips require at least a one night stay.
The Havasupai tribe has the authority to issue citations and to escort day hikers out of the reservation. In other words, don't even consider trying to day hike to Havasupai. This isn't an "ask for forgiveness, instead of permission" type of situation.
EATING AT HAVASUPAI
Although there are some food and shopping options around the village of Havasupai, most people will haul in most or all of their food. There is a Walmart Supercenter in Kingman, Arizona that can help you load up on food.
Many visitors will bring a backpacker-style stove and various pots, pans, and utensils to cook with. Hiking can be very tiring and having hot meals at the campground is often desirable.
There is a small store, a general store, and a cafe in the town of Supai that you can purchase food from (bring cash in case their credit card machines are down). However, keep in mind that the village is about 2.0 miles upstream (and uphill) of the campground.
The Sinyella Store is the first one you will approach as you enter Supai village. The general store is near the center of the village.
There is also a "Frybread Hut" near the start of the campground that sells delicious frybread along with a few drinks. There are no firmly set hours, so consider yourself a bit lucky if you do find it open for business.
Cash is required here.
All food absolutely must be stored properly at the campground or critters will get it. The critters are extremely aggressive, and so I highly, highly recommend bringing a bear canister or a critter bag (such as the Ursack Allmitey). You'll want to keep these outside of your pack and tent, otherwise the critters will eat through those. Before you go to bed, make sure your pack is completely empty of food and anything else that has an odor. You may want to hang your pack with rope or paracord even if it doesn't have any food in it.
I would plan on consuming 2,500-3,000+ calories per day since carrying a heavy backpack tends to make you very hungry.
Here are some recommended hiking and backpacking foods. None of these foods and snacks require refrigeration.
- Bagels with peanut butter or Nutella (some brands of PB will suggest refrigeration, but it's not really necessary in the short term)
- Chocolate (as long as temperatures aren't expected to be too hot; most chocolate will melt above 85 degrees)
- Chocolate covered espresso beans
- Cliff bars / other energy bars
- Dehydrated meals from home (created by using a dehydrator machine)
- Dried fruit (this is better than regular fruit because it is lighter and you won't have to hike any cores/peels back out)
- Dry cereals
- Freeze-dried meals (take note that all you have to do to prepare these foods is to boil water using a stove, dump the water in the package, and stir occasionally for 8-15 minutes)
- Mountain House ("MH") is my favorite brand of freeze-dried meals. Here are some highly recommended Mountain House flavors:
- MH Beef Stew
- MH Beef Stroganoff with Noodles
- MH Biscuits & Gravy
- MH Breakfast Skillet
- MH Chicken Teriyaki With Rice (this is a personal favorite of mine)
- MH Chili Mac with Beef
- MH Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
- MH Sweet & Sour Pork with Rice
- Fruit (e.g. apples, bananas, oranges, etc.; make sure you hike all peels/cores back up with you)
- Gummy bears / other gummy fruit snacks
- Hard cheeses (only the brands/styles that don't require refrigeration)
- Bacon Jerky
- Beef Jerky
- Buffalo Jerky
- Chicken Jerky
- Pork Jerky
- Salmon Jerky
- Turkey Jerky
- Oatmeal packets
- Oreos / other packaged snacks
- Packit Gourmet Meals
- Pepperoni sticks (only the brands/styles that don't require refrigeration)
- Protein bars
- Ramen noodles
- Salami (only the brands/styles that don't require refrigeration)
- Sausage (only the brands/styles that don't require refrigeration)
- Snickers / other candy bars
- Tortillas with peanut butter or Nutella (some brands of PB will suggest refrigeration, but it's not really necessary in the short term)
- Trail mix / mixed nuts / other nuts
- Tuna fish (foil packs)
Havasu Falls as seen from the main trail as you approach the campground (photo courtesy of Amber Briley)
PACKING LIST FOR HAVASUPAI
Here is a suggested packing list for a trip to Havasupai. You likely will not want or need to bring all or even most of these items, but I have listed them all here anyway for your consideration.
Take note that there is a Walmart Supercenter in Kingman, Arizona where you can purchase last minute food, snacks, and supplies.
Please do not bring the following items to Havasupai. Most of these items are actually strictly prohibited.
- Food & Water
- Food and snacks
- Water (I would hike each way with at least 2-3 liters of water per person)
- Sports / electrolyte-infused drinks or powder (i.e. Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)
- Hiking shoes or boots
- Water shoes (these will come in extremely handy for the campground & swimming holes)
- Backpack (a 50-65L sized bag is recommended, and this should work as long as you have some light and compactible gear)
- Backpack cover or trash bag you can use as a liner (only if rain is expected)
- Tent, tarp-tent, bivy sack, or hammock (there are many trees suitable for hammocks)
- Tent footprint or ground cloth
- Sleeping bag or quilt
- Sleeping pad
- Critter/rodent bag, bear canister, or a rugged plastic bucket with a strong close-able lid (and some rope/paracord and caribiners to hang some of this stuff with)
- Headlamp with extra batteries
- Reservation / permit (bring a printed copy and/or keep a copy on your (well-charged) smartphone as a photo)
- Havasupai trail map (this is optional since the trail is fairly straightforward and you will see many other hikers along the route)
- Water bottles and/or water bladder/hydration reservoir
- Water filter (this is optional and most people don't bother carrying one since you can fill up at Fern Spring at the campground)
- Trash bag
- Gloves with rubber-ish grips (these are optional but are helpful when used to climb down chains to the base of Mooney Falls)
- Collapsible water jug (so that you don't have to keep filling up water at the spring, which can have a long line)
- Backpacking pillow
- Trekking poles
- Camp shoes, sandals, and/or Crocs
- Camp chair
- Quick-dry t-shirts
- Quick-dry hiking pants (these come in very handy if you are going to take the optional hikes to Beaver Falls or the Confluence)
- Quick-dry hiking shorts
- Quick-dry underwear
- Quick-dry bras
- Synthetic or wool hiking socks (favorite brands = Darn Tough and SmartWool; I recommend bringing at least 2 pairs)
- Waterproof jacket or poncho (only if rain is expected)
- Fleece or softshell jacket
- Clothing to wear in camp / to bed
- Bandanna and/or face towel
- Towel (get a lightweight microfiber one)
- Hat (wide-brimmed hats are best)
- Knee brace(s)
- Winter clothing (if necessary; hats, gloves, mittens, face mask/balaclava, down jacket, etc.)
- Cooking & Eating
- Stove and fuel (remember, you can't take fuel on airplane flights)
- Cooking utensils
- Cooking pot and/or cooking bowl
- Bowls and/or plates
- Comfort & Toiletries
- Toilet paper (sometimes the pit toilets at the campground run out)
- Hand sanitizer
- Toothbrush/toothpaste (this may seem extreme to some people, but it is recommended that you spit toothpaste out into a zip-lock bag and pack it out; the reason is because this is a fragile desert environment; Spry gum is a good alternative to toothpaste if you don't want to bring toothpaste)
- Contact lenses
- Lotion / moisturizer (besides for the area around Havasu Creek, it's very dry out there)
- Body Glide / anti-chafing product (this stuff can be a true lifesaver)
- Cleaning wipes / baby wipes
- Sun-screen lotion
- Bug spray (this is seldom needed)
- Aloe vera (in case you do get burnt)
- Chapstick / lip balm
- Safety & Security
- Matches or lighter (for cooking and safety/survival purposes; fires are NOT allowed in Havasupai)
- Safety whistle
- First aid kit (bandages, band-aids, pain reliever, Bacitratcin ointment, sports tape, etc.)
- Prescription drugs
- Moleskin (to prevent / treat blisters)
- Knife, razor-blade, or multi-tool
- Identification / ID / passport
- Money/cash (especially if you want to purchase any food, snacks, or drinks in the village or at the Frybread Hut)
- Duct tape or super-glue (in case there are any issues with your feet (blisters), backpack, tent, trekking poles, sleeping pad, etc.)
- Rope, nylon cord, or paracord (to hang backpacks and tie down tents)
- Smartphone (some major carriers may work at the trailhead and/or in the village, but nothing seems to work near the falls)
- The Fun Stuff
- Other camera gear (lenses, lens wipes, circular polarizer filter, neutral density filter, memory cards, etc.)
- Tripod or mini-tripod
- Solar charger / portable charger
- Playing cards
- Journal / paper
- Pencil / pen
Click here for a more comprehensive backpacking checklist, including some personally recommended gear brands.
- Alcohol (this will be confiscated and you risk being escorted out of the reservation if you are found with it)
- Drugs (including marijuana)
- Firewood (fires are always prohibited)
- Weapons / guns
- Motorized vehicles
- Mountain bikes
- Speakers (these are inappropriate due to the close proximity of other campers)
- Biodegradable soap (because it's not really biodegradable)
Two backpackers ready to start their hike down to Havasupai
OTHER NEARBY ATTRACTIONS
Havasupai isn't the only great attraction in northwestern Arizona. While in the area, you should also consider driving and visiting some of these nearby attractions:
If you are planning to visit the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, the top three day hikes there in my opinion are as follows: (1) hike 1.5 miles down the Bright Angel Trail to the Rest House; (2) hike 1.5 miles down to Cedar Ridge on the South Kaibab Trail; and (3) walk as far as your heart is content along the paved and nearly flat Rim Trail.
- Peach Springs & Hackberry, Arizona area
- Grand Canyon Caverns
- Hackberry General Store
- Keepers of the Wild Nature Park
- Guided boat trips on the Colorado River
- Some nearby outfitters include:
- Rivers & Oceans
- Hualapai River Runners
- Kingman & Hackberry, Arizona area
- Desert Diamond Distillery
- Historic Route 66 Museum
- Giganticus Headicus (roadside attraction and photo opportunity)
- Grand Canyon Skywalk & Eagle Point
- Seligman, Arizona area
- Angel & Vilma Delgadillo's Route 66 Gift Shop & Visitor's Center
- A bit further away...
- Hoover Dam
- Williams, Arizona area attractions
- Grand Canyon Railway
- Bearizona Wildlife Park
- Grand Canyon Deer Farm
- Grand Canyon Brewery Company
- Planes of Fame Air Museum
- Mount Humphreys (this is Arizona's state highpoint)
- Flagstaff, Arizona area attractions
- South Rim area of Grand Canyon National Park
- Sedona, Arizona area attractions
If you are flying into or out of Las Vegas, you should also make time to visit Valley of Fire State Park. This state park, which is one of the country's finest, is located about 75 minutes northeast of Las Vegas.
HELPFUL HAVASUPAI WEBSITES & LINKS
Here are some great links to help you plan your trip to Havasupai:
- Official website of the Havasupai Tribe = link
- "Havasupai & Havasu Falls" Facebook(R) group = link
- Havasu Falls Backpackers Guide (blog) = link
- www.girlonahike.com's trip report to Havasu Falls = link
- www.girlonahike.com's trip report to Beaver Falls and The Confluence = link
- www.wanderloveworld.com guide to Havasupai = link
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