Getting to the waterfalls
The Havasupai Tribe will OPEN Havasu Falls and the Havasupai Reservation to tourists on February 1st 2023. There are no NEW reservations/permits for 2023. Only those reservation holders that were impacted by the COVID tourism suspension have a confirmed reservation. The only way to get a reservation for 2023 is to purchase off the official transfer list.
To be rewarded with these awe-inspiring waterfalls in Havasu Canyon requires a journey into the earth and seemingly back in time. It’s a ten-mile hike to reach the campground, and there are several options for getting down and back out. If you are reasonably fit, hiking in and out should not be a problem. Spring and fall are the ideal times to go, but a hike in the heat of the summer is definitely doable. Besides, this is the time of year when the cool waters of the falls will be the most rewarding. When timed correctly, you can hike mostly in the shade and take frequent breaks. Going down in the winter means enchanting frozen waterfalls and that you have the place all to yourself. Mules are available for gear transport and many people find this to be the key to a successful hike. Helicopter rides are available for the no-fuss traveler, and some opt to hike in and copter out. Most people are nervous about the hike out - it will always be challenging - but it is not nearly as hard as most people expect, if you use the Guru’s Tips.
The Hike In
Starting your hike at Hualapai Hilltop trailhead (60 miles north of Seligman) no later than 7:30 a.m is key. Some people start as early as sunrise, which means you’ll be driving to the trailhead in the middle of the night. Early in the morning temperatures are cool and it can be very windy at 5,200 ft elevation. If you are carrying your gear in, it is helpful to take one last look and make sure that you are packing only what you really need, including one gallon of water per person for the hike in. If you choose to use pack mules to carry down your food and gear make sure that you have your day hiking essentials in your daypack including water, sunscreen, and plenty of food for the hike.
The first couple of miles are steep switch backs but setting a good pace makes it pretty easy. You will hike through beautiful red sandstone, passing packs of mules and other hikers on their way up. You warm up quickly as you descend into the canyon, so be sure to dress in layers. Stopping every so often to relax and refuel with snacks and water in the shade makes the hike enjoyable rather than torturous.
Before you know it, you’ll be hiking alongside Havasu Creek where you will get your first glimpse of this amazingly clear, slightly green water. This is only a taste of what is to come. Stopping for lunch at the bridge is a great place to kick back and soak your feet in the refreshing water.
From the bridge, it’s not much further to Supai Village, which feels like a journey back in time. After hiking through the wilderness, it feels surreal to find yourself walking on a dirt path through the only continuously occupied native village in the Grand Canyon. Houses and horse corrals flank the path as Havasupai people go about their daily lives. There is a cafe and Lodge here and this is also where the helicopters land.
After Supai village you hike another 1.5 miles and cut back down a trail to New Navajo Falls. This is a spectacular scene, amplified by the fact that you have been hiking for 9.5 miles in the hot desert sand. At Navajo Falls there are turquoise pools at the bottom where you can go across the creek and hang out at the base of the falls, wade in the pools, or go for a swim!
Fifty Foot Falls is the next waterfall you'll reach along the trail. This waterfall is a lot easier to spot of the trail and you’ll see a side trail on your left that leads you down to the base of the falls. This is another great spot to swim and an amazing example of how dynamic the Grand Canyon really is.
Once you get to the waterfalls, It is important to know that rock climbing, jumping, and diving are prohibited throughout the Havasupai Reservation and you will be ticketed if you are caught doing so. Please respect the tribal home of the Havasupai people and abide by their tribal laws.
Back on the trail for only a short time, you will look over and see the beautiful, raging turquoise Havasu Falls. One of the most photographed waterfalls in the word, Havasu Falls has an impressive 100-foot drop that cascades into pools of blues and greens, creating an effect that is both awe-inspiring and tranquil. Hikers will often hang out at the bottom of the falls relaxing and swimming before heading to the campground.
Finding your campsite for the night is as simple as finding an open spot between Havasu and Mooney Falls. If you’re visiting Havasu in the warmer months, many campers choose to leave their tents at home and to sleep out under the stars instead. You’ll be lulled to sleep by the sounds of Havasu Creek and be awed by the incredible number of stars you can see.
Day Hikes from the Campground
Under the new reservation system, all campground reservations are for 3 night/4 days, which gives you plenty of time to both relax and explore the area.
If you’re up for more adventure, a hike to Mooney Falls is a great option on your first morning in Havasu. Since you have to use chains and choose your steps carefully, only a small percentage of visitors actually make it down the steep descent to the bottom. If you can make it to Mooney Falls, you’ll be rewarded with access to the other waterfalls beyond since this is the only way down.
Beyond Mooney Falls, the two-mile hike down to Beaver Falls is filled with stunning canyon views and many beautiful, smaller falls along the way. Along the creek you’ll find swimming holes that have rope swings for even more swimming and fun. Havasu Creek guides your way along steep and sandy cliffs and through fields of wild grape vines. With fewer people in this part of the canyon, it feels much wilder and you might even catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep drinking from the creek. Beaver Falls consists of a set of pools on top of the waterfall, and it is only a few miles from here down to the Colorado River.
The Hike Out
The day that you hike out it is best to get up before sunrise to have breakfast and pack so you can hit the trail no later than 6:00am. If you are planning to helicopter out, you should be in the village by 7:00am (to get in line) and if you booked a pack mule you will need to drop off all of your gear in Supai Village no later than 7:00am. If you miss the 7:00am pack mule pick-up it will cost $300 for a later run that day.
People are usually surprised but how much they enjoy the hike out of Havasu. If you start early enough, it can be much easier than anticipated since most of the trek is flat and in the shade early in the day. Since it’s all uphill from Havasu, it is common to feel pretty tired by the time you reach the steep switchbacks at the end of the trail. If you pace yourself and take plenty of water breaks, you’ll find that you’re at the top of the trail before you know it. Most people will tell you that it is really gratifying to hike out of the Grand Canyon!
Havasu Falls is truly an amazing oasis in the middle of the largest canyon in the world. For those lucky enough to explore the waterfalls of Havasu, it’ll be an adventure you’ll never forget!