The Havasupai are an American Indian tribe who have lived in the Grand Canyon for over 800 years. Supai, the town in which the Havasupai live, is one of the most remote cities in the contiguous United States. It is located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and is only accessible by driving 60 miles on Indian Road 18 to the trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop, then hiking 8 miles to the village and another 2 miles to the campground. There is also a helicopter option to get to the village, but I would highly recommend the hike. In total, if you want to see all of the falls including Beaver Falls, you will walk 28-30 miles, but the experience is worth every single step!
- The Water! The water of Havasu creek actually is that blue green color you see in all the pictures. This is due to large amounts of calcium carbonate in the water forming the limestone that lines the creek and reflects its color so strongly. The water is spring-fed and stays about 70 degrees fahrenheit year round.
- The Falls! Upper Navajo Falls, Lower Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, Beaver Falls. If you can, see them all!
- Mooney Falls is quite simply stunning! At 210 feet, it is higher than Niagara Falls (just with a lot less water!). The climb down is not for the faint of heart: it requires going down through two dark rock tunnels, then climbing down the remainder of the cliff via a system of chains, metal spikes and ladders that can get very slippery with the water spray. However, once we reached the bottom, we were in awe! The power of the waterfall is evident even from a distance by the noise and spray. It truly is incredible.
- Beaver Falls, which is the furthest away (6 miles from Supai) and most difficult to access, was one of the most fun for us! It's a good spot for swimming and if you cross the stream you can climb up a rock wall and explore around the falls. It's definitely worth the extra miles!
- The Hike! The hike in from Hualapai Hilltop is breathtaking. You will walk along a dry riverbed through Cataract Canyon until you reach the village. We were there in early November and the weather was perfect, but could definitely be extremely hot in the summer as there is very little shade. The hike itself is not too challenging, its just a lot of miles. The worst part is, of course, the last 2 miles getting to the top of the canyon. Make sure to have lots of water and pace yourself!
- Stay 2 nights. It's not a day hike (in fact day hiking is not allowed) and I can't imagine having time to enjoy it if we had only stayed one night.
- Get gas ahead of time. Coming from Sedona, we fueled up off of I-40 before Seligman. After Seligman, you could fuel up at the Caverns Inn in Peach Springs, but otherwise there is nothing for an hour and a half. Once on Indian Road 18, there is nothing for 60 miles to the trailhead and then 60 miles back. In other words, you will want enough gas in your car for a 3 hour trip.
- Take extra shoes and/or water shoes! I took an extra pair of trail running shoes as my water shoes. You don't want to be walking through the creek without shoes!
- Take your own caffeine. If you need coffee in the morning, I would recommend packing it in. Yes, you can get a cup in the village, but if you are planning to wake up early you will need to bring your own. I brought a couple packs of Starbucks Via was glad I did!
- The lodge ain't that bad. Okay, its not that great either, but there is running water! When we first started planning our trip, we had wanted to camp, but we don't exactly own our own camping gear. After doing the calculations of buying or renting gear, packing it to Arizona (we flew from Atlanta), carrying 30 lbs. of gear with us or paying for the donkey to transport our gear, we decided that, even with the price of the lodge, it was probably break even for us.
- Take cash and don't expect the locals to be your new BFF. They just aren't that friendly. And if the cashier at the cafe is 30 minutes late for work, but you're ready to see some waterfalls, the cash will come in handy.
- If the donkeys are coming, move off the path. They don't stop. Just sayin'.
- Go in the Spring or in the Fall. Hiking + Summer + Dessert = No fun (in my opinion).
- Plan to go back. The falls are constantly changing due to the nature of the limestone formations as well as the occasional flash flood. Upper and Lower Navajo Falls were both created by a flood in 2008. Havasu Falls used to make more of a u-shaped waterfall, but was also changed after a flash flood.
What to pack
- A lightweight backpack. I recommend this one.
- Extra shoes or water shoes
- Good socks
- Water bottles
- Snacks - We had Kind bars, peanut butter crackers, beef jerky and m&ms.
- Starbucks Via
- Appropriate clothes - Check the weather, do you need a rain coat, layers at night, etc.?
- Bathing suit
- Lens cloth - The spray from the falls will get your lens dirty
- Tripod - Mine broke on the first night and I really regret not getting more night time shots.
- Headlamp - For night time and if you plan to hike out early
- Cash and credit cards
- Libations - They do not sell alcohol in the village so if you want a celebratory drink, you'll need to bring your own.
Option 1: Phoenix/Sedona/Route 66/Havasupai
If you have time, this is a great way to see Arizona! We flew into Phoenix and drove to Sedona for a night. We spent night two on Route 66 in Seligman, about an hour and a half from the trailhead. Spend two nights in Havasupai. One more night in Sedona, then drive back to Phoenix to fly out. *Note: As Hualapai hilltop doesn't always show up on or seems to confuse google maps, I spent tons of time researching and trying to figure out exactly how long the drive from the trailhead back to Sedona would take. It's about 3.5 - 4 hours.
Option 2: Vegas/Havasupai
We loved it so much, we are already planning to go back! Next time, we plan to try this itinerary... By our calculations, Vegas is about three and a half hours from the trailhead. Fly into Vegas and spend one night. Drive to trailhead and hike in. Spend 2 nights in Havasupai. Return to Vegas.