Silliness and showers at dusk in turquoise water: Havasupai Falls

Havasupai Falls (or Havasu Falls for short), meaning “green blue water”, was one the highlights of our itinerary and the only one that really required some sort of planning. To book a spot you need to be about six months in advance. 

I know, pretty ridiculous. But there are ways around it…

  1. You can go full-on stalker-mode and can call in every day to check for cancelled spots
  2. Or, in case you’re shy or just not a big talker, you can join the Facebook group “Backpacking Havasu Falls”. Here, people post updates on reservations needed/ cancelled etc. We were quickly able to get ours through this avenue

The camping permit is a bit on the pricier side but completely worth it. The village charges you $35 as an entrance fee, $5 as an environmental fee and then an additional $17 per night. This landed us at $74 per person for two nights’ stay.

What to bring

The nearest “town” to Havasu Falls is Peach Springs, so any last-minute purchases would need to happen here. I suggest packing as light as possible as you will be hiking for a good couple of hours. I recommend bringing the following items as must-haves:

  • 2 gallons of water per person
  • Rain jacket/ windbreaker
  • Bathing suit
  • Towel
  • Snacks
  • Food to last throughout the stay
  • Tent and camping kitchen
  • One set of clothes
  • Camelback of course
  • Extra socks

That’s about it! You don’t need much more. Worst case scenario (god forbid), your trail mix dwindles into crumbs, there is a little shop in the village about two miles from the campsite that sells food (albeit, overpriced). The campsite also offers drinking water for you to refill you camelback.

The hike

The total route is about 10 miles one way. It takes 8 miles to get to the little town named Supai Village and from there it’s just another 2 miles to the actual campsite.

Right away when you get to the trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop, you will notice all the signs that warn against day hikes. No, they’re not allowed and for good reason, it would be a real mission to try to go to Havasu Falls and back in one day.

The hike to the falls is mostly downhill and on flat surface. It took us about 3.5 hours (not counting the rest stops). We made a huge mistake of starting our hike under the beaming noon sun. At that time, there weren’t many other hikers out and we were very diligent in following all the kerns laid out on the trail (there are no signs).

The occasional mules and horses passed us as we walked through canyons towering over us and jumped over streams of clear water.

Note: For those who don’t mind spending a few extra bucks and aren’t too fit, there are options of renting pack mules or sending your backpack on a helicopter to the village. Pack mules are $80 per mule (with the option of “mule-pooling” if needed) and helicopters are probably much more than that. As I’m always looking to travel as cheaply as possible, neither was an option for us. And even it it were within my budget, I’m a strong believer that you should be able to carry what you need in your pack.

Camping

When you get to the village you need to check in at the tourist office (they have WIFI) where they give you a wristband with your reservation info. And, for those who sent their packs by mule or heli, here’s where to pick them up.

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Just getting into the village. Not used to 10-mile hikes, Jacinta was not a happy camper after all the walking.

The campsite is located two miles from the village. When we got there, there were flood warnings so we made sure to camp on high ground. We proceeded to pass out right after pitching the tent at 17:00, waking up pretty well-rested at 07:00 the next day.

Visiting the falls: Mooney Falls, Havasu Falls, Navajo/ Rock Falls, Beaver Falls

The next day was spent chasing all the different falls in the area. I’m going to step aside with my writing for a bit and let the pictures speak for themselves here. We didn’t end up going to Beaver Falls as the trail was flooded and we didn’t want to risk getting our shoes wet for the hike back the next day.

Havasu Falls

This is the main fall. Head here in the morning to catch the dew and go for a morning swim. We did!

Mooney Falls

These falls are a bit further down but takes less than 20 minutes to reach from the campsite. Make sure to wear good shoes (no flip flops here) as it gets very slippery climbing down the rock side to get to the falls. This is also a great lunch spot so bring some snackables. Even though we managed to find the picnic tables they were unfortunately in no condition to be used…

… And all silliness aside, here are some nicer photos from the falls:

Navajo/ Rock Falls

These falls are very different from the rest and we managed to catch the afternoon soon here. There is one area you can jump from (we did not), but other than that it’s a great spot for some photos and to just sit and admire the turquoise water against the deep red rocks in the background.

We did get some more flattering pictures, too (hehe).

The hike back

For the hike back I advise you to check in with the tourist office the evening before for a weather update. If there is heavy rainfall they’ll most likely advise you not to go as the trail gets very muddy and might overflow.

We left at 07:00 and got back to the hilltop about 4.5 hours later. Because the way back is mostly uphill, add an extra hour to your estimated time of arrival.

For more detailed info on Havasupai Falls, check out this link:

https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/havasupai.htm

“Cool story, bro. But how much did it cost?”

Camping (2 nights): $74

Food: $20 (10$ per person)

Grand total: $84

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