Havasupai…A Hikers Paradise to Havasu Falls
Here is everything you need to know about visiting Havasupai.
Havasupai is a hiker’s paradise. With an 8-mile trek into the village your sore feet are soothed in the blue-green waters of the natural spring. Occasionally you get the unique opportunity to experience not just the landscape, but cultural immersion! I was honored to have this view into the people of the blue-green water, the Havasupai, and I will forever cherish my memories.
I first made my way into the canyon as all other tourists do. We had our hiking permits, camping permits, food, water, and all the supplies needed for our days within the canyon walls. It was over 15 years ago when my family (my parents and two brothers) made our way through the heat of Arizona’s August sun to experience the falls during the heavy flow of monsoon.
Fast forward to my accepting a contract for work in the village for six months. It could not be turned down. This time I did not hike in, I took the helicopter. Growing up military and moving every 2.5 years, this was my first move to an apartment by helicopter. My experiences were vast, and I was lucky enough to spend every weekend exploring the hiking trails and beautiful waterfalls. They are famous for Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls, but trek on farther for one of my favorite water hikes down to Beaver Falls.
Be respectful as you experience the canyon and she will reward you with stunning views, waterfalls unlike any you have seen, and memories to last a lifetime.
If you want to see the local culture in action be sure to plan your trip around a festival. The Peach Festival occurs every year, and the Pai festival rotates between -Pai tribes every four years. When you are calling to make reservations, ask when either of these festivals are but note this causes a significant influx of people into the canyon. It becomes a balance of nature, crowds, and cultural exploration. Times and dates are to be taken with patience and a grain of salt. Nothing is rushed, times often change, but this will keep you ever present in the experience of the location, the village, and her people!
Havasupai has magic unto itself, its waters are captivating, the canyon walls expansive, the people are rooted in tradition and if you are lucky enough to experience their openness– cherish it!
Havasupai is only reached by hiking 8 miles, riding on a pack horse/mule, or taking the helicopter. There are no cars or traffic here, mostly you step to the side of the dirt paths for horses, not human drivers. Before making your reservations know your limits and plan accordingly.
The famous Havasu Falls is the major draw to the canyon, but don’t miss Lil Navajo and Hidden Falls on your way there. Hike a little farther and experience the canyon crawl down ladders and tunnels to view Mooney Falls, and push on approximately 5 miles more through water hikes and expansive canyon walls until you reach Beaver Falls. If you take the high path at the end of the Beaver Falls, you can see the sign exiting the Havasupai Reservation and entering Grand Canyon National Park, a fun photo op.
I fell in love with hiking in the water. The wide-open water hike from Mooney Falls to Beaver Falls gives you miles of water hiking if you are so keen. Be sure to have your dry and wet shoes for the hike to switch back and forth as needed. This is a full day hike if you do it right, picnic at Beaver, play for hours and then head back, utterly exhausted, to your tent or hotel. (Plan accordingly – to get back to the hotel, it is another 2 miles farther than the campground).
As with any travel, there is surface and immersion. Both journeys into Havasupai were memorable and captivating. You cannot get the experience of 6 months in 6 days, but you can get amazing daily hikes into some of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls, taste unique foods, and embrace the people that have for hundreds of years lived at the bottom of part of the Grand Canyon in Havasu Canyon!
As you trek along, keep your eyes to the sky as well, you may get a special peek at the California Condors that live in the area. They are magnificent, large birds of prey. In the summer rattlesnakes do come out, just stay aware and if hiking through the bushes on the way to Beaver Falls, have a stick to rustle beside the path if you feel nervous.
- The falls are located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, it is about 4 hours from Phoenix, AZ or Las Vegas, NV.
- The main road to reach the area is the I-40. Take that to Seligman, turn off on US 66 and watch for Indian Highway 18. Take that all the way into the parking lot at Hualapai Hilltop where you will find the entrance to the canyon hike (about 1 hour after you turn onto hwy 18) keep your eyes open for wild horses or cows that will cross into the road as the reservation is free-range.
- Be sure you have enough fuel as there are no services at Hualapai Hilltop. The nearest services for gas, food and water is back at Peach Spring.
- Permits are required both for hiking and camping. Plan well in advance. Permits typically sell-out in the first few months of the year for the entire season (if you can swing it, planning 10-12 months out is best).
- Be sure to come prepared for the type of excursion you have planned. Have water with you at all times (it is sold in the general store once you hike into town), sunscreen, your own first aid kit with second skin/mole skin for the hiking. Be prepared for a 10-mile hike on rock and sand with little shade.
- Theft does occur from the campgrounds, have your valuables with you / safely locked. If you don’t need it in the canyon, don’t take it.
- NIGHT-It is recommended to not be out walking/hiking at night throughout the trails and village. Most of the village goes in at sundown, although the campgrounds are fine to be out and about with your fellow adventurers.
- Havasupai Café – breakfast, lunch and dinner (times may vary and depend on deliveries of food)
- Synella store – Supai burger is not to be missed (I am a vegetarian, but took all my meat eating friends and family for this treat when they came to visit – they also have the fry bread and beans version for the meatless).
You will hike past Synella’s Store on your way into the village on the left-hand side
- General Store – you can pick up some foods here, prices are high as it is the only store and deliveries come in via helicopter or horse. This is also next to the post office where you can send out special stamp postcards that is the last mule-train delivered mail! (a fun keepsake from your adventure)
WEATHER and OTHER NOTES
- Summertime is hot and reaches temperatures over 100 degrees, evenings can get chilly in the spring, and July and August is monsoon with flash floods occurring.
- WEATHER WARNINGS – if you are expecting rain, be sure to make your way back out of the Mooney Falls ladder before the storms hit and are on the main path with high ground markers. Rangers and local guides will be sure to hike in and let tourists know to get out of that part of the canyon before big storms hit. Flash floods do occur in the canyon, just hike smart and pay attention when a local warns of an area, and you’ll be just fine.
- Emergency – there is no hospital available to non-tribal members, pack in your needed medicines and hike with care.
- Drones are not permitted in the canyon and can be subject to a $1000 fine.
- Tourist Office: (928) 448-2121
- Reservation lines are open from 9 am – 3 pm, Monday through Friday
- Havasupai Tourist Information: website
- Entry fee: $50 per person + 10% tax
• 24 rooms with double beds.
• Rates: $145 for up to four people + 10% tax.
• Reservations must be made in advance.
• Book by phone: (928) 448-2111
Hotel-tip: remember where you are located and how hard it is to get supplies here. The hotel is more of a motel, but provides a shower, locking doors and a bed off the ground.
• Fee: $25 / person / night + 10% tribal tax
• Reservations by phone only (928) 448-2121