Hike to Havasu Falls

Hike to Havasu Falls: Located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, just outside of Grand Canyon National Park. Havasu Falls are an iconic natural wonder to be seen for a lifetime. Havasu Falls plunges more than 100 feet into a wide pool of clear, bright blue-green water.

Of all the five waterfalls of Havasu Creek, the second largest tributary of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park, Havasu falls are the most loved ones for their natural pools. Havasu Creek is famous for its blue-green color and travertine formations that are ever-changing with every flow of water.

A Brief History of Havasu Falls

havasu village
Source: Flickr

The native tribe to Havasu, the Havasupai tribe is popularly known as the ‘ people of blue-green water’ guard the water gems in this Arizona area. Of all the tribes associated with Grand Canyon, the Havasupai tribe is the only tribe that still continues to live within the deep waters of the Canyon. Considering themselves the guardians of the land, the tribe is living with their old and strong bond to the land. As a part of the native tribal land for Havasupai people, the cultured atmosphere is maintained around the waterfalls that make it an even more interesting and desiring adventure.

The tribe has lived here for more than   800 years, but in 1919 with the creation of Grand Canyon National park, the tribal land was reduced to 518 acres. When in the 1970s legal battles started, 185000 acres of land returned to them.

How to get to Havasu Falls

Havasu fall hiking
Credit: Flickr

Havasupai Falls has been the destination of avid hikers and adventure seekers.  Access to Havasu falls is not that easy and everything that comes easy has no life.

To start your journey to beautiful falls, you have to reach the Havasu falls trailhead also known as Hualapai Hilltop.

Havasupai Trailhead

Havasu Fall trailhead
Source: Flickr

You have two options to choose from. While many people fly to Las Vegas or Phoenix but the distance to the trailhead involves a long hours drive. The drive from Las Vegas is 3.5 hours and from Phoenix is 4.5 hours. Either way, you choose the magic of Havasu Falls and turquoise pools will boost your excitement.

Directions

First of all, you have to drive to route 66. When you get there, the next route to the place is route 18 that will get you to the hilltop parking lot.

Route 18 or Indian road 18 is 60 miles long leading to the hilltop or trailhead. During the regular season, the dirt road is safe for traveling. But when monsoon season (mid-September) approaches, you are more likely to experience floods. So it’s not safe to travel in such conditions.

Getting to Havasu falls

Once you have made it to the trailhead, the real adventure begins. The hike to Havasu Falls is 10 miles and it’s totally your choice how you want to cover it.

Option 1 Helicopter ride to Havasu falls

The helicopter is an easy and quick way to reach the Supai village where Havasu falls are located. The journey takes about 10 minutes to reach through beautiful sights of the Grand Canyon.

There is no pre-booking system for the helicopter ride. It’s based on first come first serve. Also, you are not landed at the Havasu falls, instead, you have to hike through that last mile from Supai village to the campground.

The time needed: 10 minutes ride costing $85 for one way. It isn’t cheap but it will save you time and energy.

Option 2 Hiking to Havasupai

The hike to Havasu falls starts with Supai village which is about 8 miles from the trailhead. These next miles are the most difficult,  but exploring the levels with each foot is not a small adventure.

You must have a reservation to hike in Havasupai falls.

Remember: To hike through the trail you have to start very early.

The time needed: Around 4-5 hours with no cost.

There are other options that you can take.

You can use the mule rent service to carry your stuff to the village. The mules are only to carry the bags and it will cost you about $121 for 130 pounds weight. It takes a mule 3-4 hours to get into the village.

As you hike down from Canyon to Supai, there are other waterfalls in your way. New Navajo Falls, Fifty Footfalls, and others.

Now, when you have reached the village you can either rest in the Lodge and then hike to the falls. Or travel two miles to your camping area.

Hike to Havasu falls

hiking to havasu falls
Source: Flickr

Hike to Havasu falls is going to be a cardio test for 8 miles one way. If you are a fit man like me then no worries, you gonna complete this smoothly. But don’t worry if you are not that fit because the hike may be long but is an easy hike. All you need is stamina(well not only guys but girls, just kidding).

Hike to Havasu falls starts from Hualapai Hilltop trailhead and ends at the Havasu Falls campground. To avoid dehydration or sunburn I suggest you start your journey early in the morning. The earlier you start, the easier it’s going to be for you. To start early you also have to make sure that you stay near the trailhead at night before your journey. There are many moderate hotels that you can get to stay. The average price for a hotel can go up to $100 or more.

You need a car or any vehicle to reach the trailhead. After reaching the trailhead you can park your vehicle in the parking lot. Avoid parking your vehicle near mountains along the road because sometimes rock slides happen which can damage the vehicles. So, be on the safe side always. If you start your journey early you will find enough space for your vehicle to park.

So as you reach the trailhead, your hike to Havasu falls starts.

The trail will start at decent and maintain the level as you go down to Havasu wash. You will lose 1000 feet of elevation after walking for a few miles. Once you reach the Havasu wash the trail enters into the dry river sand surface which also makes it a little bit hard for you to walk on because of sand. But after that, the trail again decent for further journey until you reach the Supai village. Before entering the village you’ll see big rock natural pillars and cliffs which are also known as Wigleevas. People of the village also have a strong belief that these are their guardians, protecting the land. The hike to Havasu falls is all about switchbacks after switchbacks, you may get blisters in your feet as you have to walk on rocks and sands which likely cause blisters in the foot. If you want to know how to treat blisters if you have during your hike then read this

The hike starts from the narrows of Esplanade and takes you to the lush greens and blue water of Havasu. People visit Havasu falls to capture the beauty of fall falling from the 100 feet or to bathe under it. Besides that, the journey itself is amazing and a little bit challenging because it’s a long journey, it totally tests your stamina. But all the hard work and sweat is worth it, as you arrive at the Havasu Falls.

While entering the Supai village be respectful and humble as you are entering into their territory.

havasu fall camping

After reaching the Supai village, you have to cover another 2 miles to reach the Havasu campground. You have to take a wrist band and tie it on your wrist to enter the Havasu falls. The campground has restrooms, drinking facilities which are difficult to find anywhere on the trail. As you make your way into the Havasu falls, you will be amazed by the breathtaking beauty of the fall. The blue-green water falling above 100 feet into the pool will make you think why people all around the world visit Havasu falls every season. You can swim in the pool and bathe under the water or hole. The water further making its way through the Redwall Limestone.

The reddish cliffs underlying under fall gives brightens up nature and gives the view of an exposed cave. The deposit of calcium carbonate in Havasu makes the color of the water blue in color.  The blue water falling from the top results in dams which in return result in swimming holes, where you can bathe or swim after and remove the sweat after miles of the hike.

Havasu falls have not been the same since its birth because Havasu canyon has witnessed major flash floods that had drastically change the lengths and height of fall. Not only that these floods also resulted in various changes in Havasu falls. The major flash flood that happened in 1997 made a huge difference in falls, the length of the fall is said to 120 feet before the flood, and dams were also said to be larger than now.

After that flashflood, the quarter of fall is knocked out and also the singular plunge becomes the dual plunge. The last flash flood that happened in 2008 resulted in the loss of Navajo falls. These flash floods have the power to destroy the falls and create new ones and that what happened in 2008, the two new falls were created.

Most of the hike to Havasu falls is going to be downhill because there is no road, instead, you have to walk through sand and rock to conquer the hike. I don’t want to scare you but if you are not fit the hike may be difficult for you. But don’t worry, you should not force yourself because the canyon allows you to stay at night in the campground. This way you can distribute your time and explore the falls fully. Most people prefer to stay at the campground in their tents, but if you don’t want to sleep intent then you can go 2 miles back to Supai village where the tribe offers hotels and room for rent. These rooms are not going to be that comfortable but you will survive the night easily.

There is so much to explore during this hike. This hike may test you but if you love waterfalls then it’s worth it.

More highlights near Havasu falls

If you want to explore more when visiting Havasu canyon, then you have do have other amazing options to choose from.

Mooney falls

The nearest fall near Havasu falls, Mooney fall is another side of the campground. Though the distance between Mooney falls and Havasu fall is less than a mile, to reach there you have to climb down a cliff and walk over slippery rocks. The trail takes you down through leaders and chains railing. Walking on the leaders is scary for some people who are afraid of heights.

Mooney falls is also a big fall, it looks bigger than the Havasu falls. There is a swimming hole on the side of the fall, just like Havasu falls where you can jump into.

Navajo falls

Navajo falls are the result of a flash flood that happened in 2008. As discussed above the flood have changed a lot in Havasu canyon. You can visit Navajo falls from the Havasupai campground. It is a 0.5 miles hike to Navajo falls from the campground.

Navajo falls is a great place to explore and also a cool place to hang out in case Havasu falls is overcrowded.

There are basically two Navajo falls, upper Navajo falls and lower Navajo falls. Few people explore the upper Navajo falls because the route to the upper falls goes off the trail, and that is why most people miss the opportunity to explore the upper Navajo falls.

You can see a lot of daring people doing a cliff jump from the up. But while doing so, you must know that cliff jump is a dangerous activity in Havasu and also against their rules.

While exploring the Navajo falls be careful and alert. Don’t do anything that is against the rules of the Havasu tribe.

How long does it take to Hike to Havasu Falls?

Early hiking is better to avoid the sun’s heat. It’s not like you can explore the Havasu falls in a day, it usually takes a night. Havasu Falls is 4-7 hours long hiking that will take you to reach the destination.

Try to reach the destination till sun dusk. And the hike out takes 5-8 hours.

Its regulations require visitors to spend the night in the canyon rather. Hiking through tribal land and then spending the nights in camps cannot be missed.

Early hiking to avoid the sun’s heat and timely visit Havasu falls before dark are small little things that will make help yours during Visit Havasu falls. Don’t even think as the day trips are prohibited in the region.

Things you should know before visiting Havasu Falls

The more colorful and beautiful Havasu waterfalls are to enjoy the more difficult is to reach there. It needs proper planning of months and even a year to get the permits. There are some basic pre-planning hiking outlines you must consider.

  • Secure your permit. You cannot enter the Havasupai without a permit. You are walking through one of the remote places in the US. So entering this zone very secure and more of a challenge.
  • Permit/ reservation is required prior to arrival. The process of reservation starts on February 1st on the official Havasupai Reservation Website. The permit for every person is a 3-night permit, so you cannot hike in one day and come back. If however, you can make to the permit, it will cost you about $300-375 per person for 3 nights.
  • No day hike. Summers are very hot, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees in Canyon rocks. An early hike when there is almost no light means you can save yourself from the extremely hot Arizona Sun. Sunscreen and hats are recommended.
  • Strictly adhere to the rules and regulations. You are not allowed to bring alcohol or drugs to the place.
  • Plan to carry about 1 gallon of water per person. There is absolutely no drinking water during the hike.
  • Pre-booking and reservation are for camping and lodging.
  • There are very few guiding signs to show you the correct path, so do not take sides and unfamiliar canyon.
  • Stay overnight at Havasu falls. The Havasupai tribe requires that you stay overnight in the Canyon for more safety.
  • There are no public health facilities in the village. It may take hours to get the right treatment. So take the essential health care kit in case of injury.
  • Of everything you are carrying for on your hike, pack all your trash out of the canyon.
  • You can also take your kids to Havasu falls but with proper preparation to strive the hot temperatures.

When to visit Havasu Falls

Havasu falls
Source: Flickr

The timings are the main concern when we visit any new place on the top of it if it’s a place that is one of the world’s best falls.

The Spring season is considered the best time of the year to visit Havasu Falls i.e March-April-May. Not to forget the late autumn season with moderate climatic conditions to make your hiking, camping activities a lot easier.

Why it’s important to visit the Havasu falls in these seasons? It’s a big deal when it comes to visiting a place.

I suppose you opt for going out there in winters. Most people do go in winter but they miss some activities like swimming. The cold temperature won’t allow taking the pleasure of swimming. The same goes for in summers too. Although you may not miss the opportunity to swim there the heat of the sun is a problem there.

Try to book your visit to Havasu falls in warm weather like beforementioned late autumn or spring.

Gear Guide For Havasu Falls

Trekking Backpack

Havasu Falls is a long camping trip, which consists of 3 nights and 4 days. So, in order to get your camping smoothly or totally frustrating. For most people, a 45-60 liter pack is enough for this trip, but there are some things to know when you choose a backpack for hiking in Havasu Falls. If you are about to get the wilderness experience through camping in the Grand Canyon, you should really focus on the backpack.

Choosing the Right Volume

As your camping stay will only include 3 nights and 4 days, you don’t require a big pack volume backpack. A 40 -50 liter backpack is sufficient to accommodate your essentials in the backpack.

Hipbelt

Hipbelt is very necessary when choosing a trekking backpack as the majority of the backpack’s weight (as much as 80%) should be supported by the hip belt.

Padding and width of the Backpack Straps

A good padded and wide strap will avoid the strap digging into your shoulders. As you move higher the pack limit, the width and padded also getting bigger, to support your shoulders.

If you’ve never been backpacking, check out this blog post with tips for how to choose a backpacking pack.

Popular Women’s Backpacks: Deuter Aircontact Lite SL

Popular Men’s Backpacks: Ursack Allmitey Bear Backpack

Tent

If you are camping on your trip, you must carry your own tent. There are no facilities to rent and you must a prior permit for camping. If you are staying at the life in Supai village, don’t carry a tent as you’ll don’t need it.

If you want a good nature experience, a good tent is a necessity. You’ll need to accommodate yourself with a good pair of a strong-built camping tents. Camping size is dependent on how many people are staying inside a tent.

For a good experience, you can choose a tent with an awning as you’ll have an additional space outside your tent where you can stay for a day avoiding direct sun exposure.

Also, if it rained you can easily cook your food outside the tent without getting wet.

Popular Tent with awning: Coleman Instant Pop-Up Canopy Tent

If you’ve never been backpacking, check out this blog post with tips for the best tents with awning and what tents are made of?

Sleeping Pad

These are used for an additional cushion when you’re sleeping in your tent. It is one of the 4 heavy things you carry with your hike( tent, backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad). So, it is better to have an ultralight sleeping pad. One of my favorite sleeping pads which I use on most of the trip is Thermarest ProLite. It isn’t too heavy and has a 3 R-value which is perfect for Havasu Falls night Temperature.

My favorite: Thermarest ProLite

Sleeping Bag

Now, you have got a tent and sleeping pad and the last big thing left is a sleeping bag. To choose the best sleeping bag, you may focus and know it’s warmth and water-resistant. It should be lightweight and at the same time provide enough insulation to keep you warm. If you visit Havasu Falls in Spring and Fall season, you probably should pack a 20-degree season sleeping bag. The night is warm during this season but if you hike in winter, you should go for a more insulated sleeping bag.

Budget Option:

If you are looking for an affordable 3-season sleeping bag, Redcamp Cotton Flannel is one of the best sleeping bags you should check out. It has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio and you can easily get one of these in less than $80.

Diverse Option:

If you are looking for a sleeping bag that can be sued at every location and want a superior quality product, you can check out REI Cop Magma 15. It is ultralight and can be easily packed in a smaller space. This is one sleeping bag that you can take at any location without worrying about temperature conditions.

Headlamp

Headlamps are widely used for hiking and camping at night. The Black Diamond Spot 350 Headlamp is one of my favorite headlamps. It has ultra-bright light, compact size, superior build quality, and very affordable. You can easily get it for less than $40.

First-Aid Kit

You should always have a first aid kit when you’re hiking. A small medical kit is equipped with minimum supplies, that you need to treat cuts, minor wounds, your health and sickness medication, blisters bandaids, mosquito sprays, etc. Get yourself a medical kit, whenever you go hiking and camping.

Sunscreen

Havasu Falls is very hot and has direct sun exposure. If you don’t use it, at the end of the day you’ll have very dangerous burn skin. Pack yourself with a high SPF sunscreen to save yourself from sunburn.

Hat & Sunglasses

The trail doesn’t have a lot of shady sections and almost all the trail has direct sun exposure. So, it is recommended to bring a large hat and sunglasses to get the best experience of the hike.

Small Daypack

When you hike various falls in a day, you’ll need a small backpack, that contains some useful things. You can’t use your trekking backpack on your day trek. In a small daypack, you can easily carry your swimsuit, sunscreen, camera, and towel.

Camera Gear

It wouldn’t be fun if you are unable to share your experiences on Instagram and also build your travel scrapbook with good pictures. Havasu Falls is so beautiful, and it would be unfair to not capture its beauty with your camera. Make sure that you pack a good pair of cameras and lenses in your hiking trip to Havasu Falls.

Hammock

Hammock is very useful when trekking in Havasu Falls as it can be easily placed near the campground. You can easily relax for a couple of houses in a Hammock. My favorite is Hummingbird Single as it is incredibly light and small, making it easy to carry around places.

Hydration

Although drinking water is available near spring as it is well tested regularly by the Havasupai Tribe. But the spring is far from the campground, and it is tough to bring water every time you need it for cooking or drinking. So, in that case, you should bring water bottles or high-capacity water jugs.

Apparently, if you are still have concerned about drinking water you can bring a small water filter. The Sawyer Squeeze is one of favorite water filter which I take in most of the trips as it is ultralight, compact, and doesn’t leave a weird taste like chemical treatments.

Backpacking Stove

For a 3 night and 4-day trip, you need a good backpacking stove where you can easily make your food. You can easily buy food near the lodge food Store and if you don’t like cooking, you can eat at the cafe.

On my trip, I brought my own Jetboil camping stove with one small canister of fuel. It was enough for our trip which consists of two people.

Overall how good is Havasu falls hike

Havasu has been the eye-catcher and among the top, most beautiful waterfalls in the world. Crystal Clear and cool turquoise water in the middle of the desert, a combination indeed worth the praise. Must visit this amazing nature beauty at least once in your lifetime.

Hiking down to Havasu Falls is an experience that is unforgettable and will turn out to be a unique level of exposure. No doubt you may have pain while hiking down but it will overpower the experience you take along with you for a lifetime.

A well-known fact about this amazing beauty of nature, down at the falls you will see things that many other people will only dream of. Beautiful teal waters, lush trees full of raccoons, cliff faces all around you with small pockets of oases, wants you to visit the place again.

You have the option to climb down to Mooney Falls and hike down to Havasu Falls. Are you conscious? Ok jokes apart, you can trek down to Beaver Falls to check out the third waterfall, if any energy left.

The place and its beauty can hypnotize us in dreams. Imagine no no not imagine, just be ready to pack your bags with dried foods to see the beauty in reality. There is a spring on-site with clean water.

Don’t be scared. Just do it.

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