By now, you’ve probably come across pictures of Havasuapi Falls.
The pristine aqua-blue water, red sand, and majestic waterfalls are easily recognizable!
I had the privilege of hiking in this paradise last March. Unfortunately, I can’t count it among my 30 by 30 destinations since I’ve been there before. Six times to be exact. I first hiked to Havasuapi when I was ten. My Adventureman has been over a dozen times throughout the years, taking large groups of friends. Last year, we officially launched our adventure business – BG Wild so that we can share one of our most favorite places for years to come!
If you’re looking to adventure in this incredible place, then you’re in luck! From a girl who’s been there a time or two, here’s my complete guide to Havasupai!
Just the Facts
Havasupai Falls is located in northern Arizona in the southwestern portion of the Grand Canyon. It rests on Havasupai Tribal land and is governed by the Supai people. For years they’ve generously allowed tourists to visit their incredible country.
It’s a moderate, 10-mile hike to get from Hilltop (the beginning of the trailhead) to the campground. The most strenuous part of the hike is the first mile and a half of switch backs, which traverse at an incline down the face of a canyon wall. The remainder of the hike is lined by the gorgeous, red ribbon-striped rock. At the 8-mile mark, you’ll reach the Supai village. You should stop at the local restaurant and buy Indian Fry Bread. Trust me, it’s delish!
Just when you think that your hike is over, you continue the final two miles to the campground in DEEP red sand. Your burning calf muscles will be richly rewarded as you catch glimpses of the first three falls along the way!
All About the Falls
The falls are constantly being reshaped by floods and storms. The most recent reshaping took place in a storm in 2008. There are currently 6 falls along the Havasu creek.
FIFTY FOOT FALLS
The first in line is the stunning 50 Foot Falls. The water fans across a tall rock ledge causing vibrant green moss to grow all over it.
Although the undertow created by the falls can be strong (CAUTION – NEVER swim directly under a water fall!) the pool surrounding the cascade is calm enough to swim in. If you look hard enough, you’ll find a hidden cave behind one of the cascades! Fifty-foot Falls gets a lot of sunshine and is located about a mere mile from camp. It’s my first choice for swimming and enjoying the sunshine in the beginning of the day!
NAVAJO and LITTLE NAVAJO
Immediately following 50 Foot Falls are the Navajo Falls. Depending on who you talk to, identifying the actual Navajo Falls can be tricky. The original Navajo Falls dried up following the flood of 2008, causing new falls to be formed with the shift in the creek. Our local Supai friends explained that Navajo Falls is the larger falls to the left and Little Navajo trickles over rocks to the right.
Hidden Falls earned it’s name by being off-the-beaten path. You can’t see Hidden Falls from the main trail into the campground, although it quickly follows Navajo Falls. To get to Hidden Falls, you’ll need to wade upstream through gorgeous turquoise water!
Havasu Falls is EASILY the most popular sight in Havaupai!
And it’s not hard to see why!
At Havasu Falls, you can bask in the sun at submerged picnic tables, jump from mini pool to pool, or take a plunge into the surge created by the gushing cascade. Gorgeous Cottonwood trees surround the falls offering shade in the warm season. If you catch them at just the right season (March-April), the breeze will shake cottonwood seeds loose from the trees giving the falls a truly magical look!
Mooney Falls is an adventure-lover’s DREAM. You’ll be awe-struck and speechless the first time you see this 200 foot beauty! The falls is located at the end of the campground. You can view it from above, however actually hiking down to it is not for the faint of heart!
First, you’ll pass this forbidding sign. Then you’ll squeeze into the tunnel pictured on the right.
As you exit the tunnel, you catch your first magical glimpse of Mooney!
Next, you’ll work up your courage to back down a series or rickety wooden ladders and chains down the cliff to reach the base of the falls. Just DON’T. LOOK. DOWN! 😉
Trust me. The view is worth the climb!
If you’ve made it down to the base of Mooney, then you’re a third of the way from the campground to the final falls – Beaver! Hiking to Beaver Falls is probably one of my most FAVORITE parts about Havasupai. The three-mile trek is green and turquoise oasis. You’ll feel like you’re an explorer discovering a new land!
To get to Beaver, you’ll wade through the runoff from Mooney Falls…
…cross a wooden bridge…
… and pass through a seemingly endless field of vines!
After a long hike, it’s time to reward yourself with a swim at Beaver! Cliff jumping is a must try!
How to Book Your Reservation
Havasupai Falls has become a major hotspot in recent years. To visit the falls you must purchase a permit and camping reservation – no day hikes allowed. Depending on how you choose to book your reservations, obtaining hiking permits can be almost impossible!
There are only two ways to reserve a spot: you can either book individually through the Supai tribe or do so through a licensed outfitter/guide. Whether you go individually or with an outfitter, you’re in for a great experience. Here are the pro’s and con’s to either choice.
- It’s affordable! A three night stay is only $150 per person.
- Rugged camping at it’s finest. Chances are, if you’re hiking in on your own, you’ll probably only be packing what you can carry on your back. A small tent, a sleeping bag, and some easy snacks and meals. You’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment knowing that you conquered the falls in beast-mode! 😉
- Flexibility. When you travel with an outfitter, you may have to adjust your desired travel dates and itinerary based on when your outfitter has scheduled trips. If you’re planning your trip on your own, you have the flexibility to build your own adventure.
- It’s nearly IMPOSSIBLE to book a spot. As I mentioned earlier, Havasuapi has become hugely popular in recent years. With only 300 camping spots available per night, your chances of booking on your own diminish quickly. In February of every year, the tribe opens up their phone lines to accept reservations. Their phones are ringing off the hook for days on end with no call waiting or “sorry – we’re sold out” messages. Usually the tourist office sells out of spots for the entire year within 3 days. Booking on your own can be a frustrating and anxiety-filled experience! Even if you do get through, you may not be able to get the number of spots or the dates that you were hoping for.
- Rugged, but not relaxing. Yes, traveling in “beast-mode” can be quite an accomplishment, but it’s not relaxing. After an exhausting 10-mile trek, you’ll have to set up your camp and get dinner started. And, since there’s no fire permitted within Havasupai, your dinner will probably consist of granola bars, beef jerky, and fruit. It’s possible to send grills and other heavy gear down on the pack mules for an additional charge, but we don’t recommend that. The 10-mile trek is very harsh on the animals.
Booking with an Outfitter
Ok. Now it’s time for my shameless plug. 😉 As I mentioned, my Adventureman and I started up an outfitter company, and in my completely unbiased opinion… if you’re going with an outfitter… we are HANDS DOWN the best option! Here’s why:
- We can GUARANTEE you a reservation! The tribe designates a small portion of their reservations each year for outfitters. This means that even after individual spots have sold out in February, our spots remain locked in. We take care of your permits and reservations so that there’s no hassle or headaches for you!
- We’re the most affordable outfitter. Our trips aren’t as cheap as when you book individually, however we beat out the competition by several hundred dollars. Our goal is to keep our trips as affordable as possible.
- We honor and respect the Supai, their land, and their animals. Over the years we’ve developed relationships with many of the Supai people. We consider them friends. We’re grateful that they allow us to visit their land and seek to abide by their rules to help them maintain the falls for generations to come. We also care deeply about their pack animals. To date, we’re the only outfitter that pays additional fees to transport our food and gear by helicopter to the village, rather than on the backs of the mules.
- Our food is incredible! Since we’re able to helicopter our gear down to the village, we can provide a pretty extraordinary spread! No granola bars and beef jerky here. We’re talking steak, lobster mac and cheese, pancakes, and more!
- We offer massages and yoga. Yup! You read that right! We bring along professional massage therapists and yoga instructors on our trips. Because, why not?
- Our guides are fun, outgoing people. We hire our friends – the people we know and trust to be fun, outgoing, inclusive, and knowledgeable. We guarantee that you’ll love them!
At this point, BG Wild travels to Havasupai seasonally. We only take trips at the most optimal times of the year (March – May and September – October) and typically on the weekends. We’re often asked if we can change our dates or book additional trips, but since we pre-book our spots like the general public – we’re not able to make changes once our spots are set.
So come with us!
We’d be honored to show you Havasupai! It’s truly an unforgettable place. Registration for our 2018 trips is NOW open!