HAVASUPAI

Four day adventure of hiking through the Grand Canyon and swimming in turquoise waterfalls.

Havasupai is our favorite place in Arizona. Where else can you find gorgeous turquoise waterfalls in the middle of the Grand Canyon? Havasupai is named after the Native American Tribe who live in the town of Supai in the middle of the Havasu Canyon. Pristine water flowing over renowned waterfalls in the middle of the most famous canyon on earth, make this a truly unique experience.

Backpack 10 miles into the canyon and set up camp at the Havasu Falls campground. From there, you can choose to go on epic day hikes or simply relax next to stunning waterfalls. The campground includes vault toilets and clean spring fed drinking water.

Two miles before you reach the campground, eight miles into your hike, you’ll pass through the town of Supai. The village includes a few restaurants, a general store and a lodge. Amenities in Supai are available but limited.

We were lucky to secure permits two years in a row but be prepared for a highly competitive reservation process. We strongly recommend the maximum allowed four day three night trip. We think mid to late May is the best time of year to visit. Our trip in June was considerably warmer, which was nice for swimming, but uncomfortable when it came time to sleep. We chose to avoid monsoon season, mid-July through August.

We recommend you make this a true backpacking experience by bringing most or all your own food and carrying your own gear. You can purchase a mule service to transport gear, but the challenge is part of the reward. Check out our gear & food list from our recent trip and don’t forget to leave no trace, always pack out everything you pack in.

OVERALL TRIP INFO

Distance 20 miles (not including day hikes) Out and Back, Hilltop to Havasu Falls Campground
Days 4 3 nights maximum permitted
Hours 8-10 hrs (not including day hikes) Out and Back, Hilltop to Havasu Falls Campground
Elevation approx 2500 ft Loss and Gain
Scenery 5/5  Outstanding
Crowds 2/5  Heavy
Adventure 4/5  Excellent
Difficulty 3.5/5  Moderate
Permit $400 for two Check Website
Start / End Hualapai Hilltop aka Havasupai TH
Trip Dates May 2017, June 2018

DAY 0 – STAYING NEAR HUALAPAI HILLTOP

Staying near the trailhead on the night before your trip will help you get an early start. Some people chose to sleep in their vehicle at the trailhead. If you’re looking for a little more comfort check out the Canyon Lodge in Seligman, AZ. Seligman is a two-hour drive from the trailhead, compared to over four hours from Vegas or Phoenix.

DAY 1 – HIKE FROM HUALAPAI HILLTOP TO HAVASU FALLS CAMPGROUND

Sublime waterfalls are the destination but don’t underestimate the beauty of this hike. The trail is well worn and easy to follow. Although mostly exposed, there is some shade as you trek deeper into the canyon. Be sure to give way to the mules, you’ll hear them coming.

Take a break at the Supai village eight miles into this 10 mile hike, you’ll need to get your wristbands from the visitor center. About a mile past the village you will get your first glimpse of the beautiful pools that feed Navajo Falls. This is a wonderful photo-op and also a great spot for a dip in the cool water.

QUICK INFO

Distance 10 Miles One Way
Hours 4-5 One Way
Elevation approx 2,500 ft Loss
Scenery 4/5 Excellent
Crowds 2/5 Heavy
Adventure 3/5 Good
Difficulty 3/5 Moderate
Start Hualapai Hilltop aka Havasupai TH
End Havasu Falls Campground
Water Tip

For this length of hike we’d almost always recommend more water, but in this case you can save a little weight and carry only 2 liters. If needed, re-fill in Supai, eight miles into your hike.

ROUTE MAP

Here’s the bridge leading into the village of Supai. Out of respect for the locals, we chose not to post pictures of the village.

The first glimpse of the turquoise pools feeding into Navajo Falls.

Inspired Tip

When you come across these pools, take your time to check out both Navajo Falls and Fifty Foot Falls. This may be your best chance to explore as you might not get back to this spot until your hike out of the canyon. Navajo Falls is an uncrowded place to swim and a great spot to get a photo near the falls.

Havasu Falls looks especially inviting after a long hike with a heavy backpack. The campground is just a bit further downstream.

On both of our adventures we choose a campsite on the east side of the stream, they’re on higher ground and a bit more spread out. We like the idea of the campsites furthest downstream, near Mooney Falls, but haven’t had luck finding an open spot. If you don’t want to carry water, or filter from the stream, you might prefer a site closer to the spring. Finally, if it’s hot you may like a more shaded but lower lying campsite along the western cliffs.

Most campsites have picnic tables but we prefer using our Helinox Chair Zeros.

Loving our Hummingbird Hammock.  Their tree straps are especially nice.

DAY 2 – EXPLORE THE DESTINATION WATERFALLS OF HAVASUPAI

Choose to relax at one great waterfall or adventure out to see many. The beauty of Havasupai is that even if you find the popular waterfalls crowded, there are plenty of places to find more solitude along the creek. We encourage you to adventure all the way up to Fifty Foot Falls, and all the way downstream to Beaver Falls.

FIFTY FOOT FALLS

Fifty Foot Falls, also known as Upper Navajo Falls, is the first notable waterfall you’ll pass hiking downstream from the village. About a mile past Supai, you’ll see turquoise pools near the main trail. Follow the side trail down toward the pools. From the pools, head upstream on a faint trail to the falls. Fifty Fool Falls is beautiful but not very accessible for a swim.

HAVASU FALLS

Havasu Falls is the most popular waterfall of Havasupai, and that of the Grand Canyon. It’s a beautiful 100 ft. waterfall that’s inviting and refreshing. Great to take a dip or just relax nearby. It is the closest waterfall to the campground and is easy to access. The single drawback being it’s usually crowded (get there early).

There’s a little ledge you can swim to and relax on.

The village dogs also have their share of fun in the water.

MOONEY FALLS

Mooney Falls is an impressive 200 ft. scenic waterfall and getting there is quite an adventure. The hike down to the base of the waterfall is not for the faint hearted. The trail is steep, and you climb down through tunnels, then use ladders and chains. It’s just a short hike downstream from the campground, but come prepared to navigate these obstacles while being hit with spray off the falls.

HIKE TO BEAVER FALLS

Beaver Falls is a scenic cascade of waterfalls. This spectacular destination is matched only by the wonderful canyon hike it requires to get there. Other than the ladders near Mooney, the trail isn’t difficult and takes you through thick vegetation with a backdrop of orange hue canyon cliffs. Frequent stream crossings add to the adventure.

Inspired Tip

The hike to Beaver Falls is our favorite hiking experience in the Grand Canyon. If this 8 mile adventure had a vehicle accessible trailhead, it would likely rank as our #1 day hike. We strongly encourage you to check it out!

We’ve hiked to Beaver Falls three times and always found limited crowds in the mornings. Another benefit of morning hiking is you’ll be partially shaded. Just past Beaver Falls is another great waterfall and hang out spot, known as the Hidden Falls. We met a Ranger who was kind enough to share directions to Hidden Falls with us. If you’ve made it this far you should continue on to Hidden Falls which is well worth a visit. And if you’re going this far, and you plan ahead, why not go all the way to the Colorado River Confluence?

QUICK INFO

Distance 8 Miles Round Trip
Hours Approx 4-5 Hours Including breaks, swimming
Elevation n/a n/a
Scenery 4.5/5 Excellent
Crowds 4/5 Light (Mornings)
Adventure 4.5/5 Excellent
Difficulty 3.5/5 Difficult
Start Havasu Falls Campground

ROUTE MAP

From the campground, follow the trail downstream and descend to Mooney Falls.

From Mooney Falls, continue downstream staying left. Multiple trails lead to the same place but follow the trails leading to higher ground. Eventfully, and on multiple occasions, the trail will force you down to the stream, usually for a crossing.

Gear Tip

Come prepared with your favorite water hiking shoes. We love our Keen Clearwater’s for both Women and Men.

Many scenic mini falls can be seen along the trail.

There’s a section of incredible lush vegetation that the trail goes through.

Cute squirrels can be found everywhere, especially in the campground. Don’t be fooled though, make sure to hang your food.  Don’t leave snacks unattended in your bag or in your tent (even closed and packaged food). We’ve heard first hand stories of tents and backpacks being chewed through.

Eventually you’ll reach this prominent ladder, next to a large palm tree. You’re not far from Beaver Falls.

Crossing Beaver Falls, there is a rope on the other side for you to climb up and explore.

HIKE TO HIDDEN FALLS

Hidden Falls is an idyllic secluded swimming spot just downstream from Beaver Falls. This is our favorite swimming spot. If you’ve decided to hike to Beaver Falls, this spot is worthy of a visit. There are two ways to get to Hidden Falls, the shorter route requires climbing down using a sketchy old rope, while the longer and safer route takes you to higher elevation (same trail that eventually leads to the Colorado River Confluence) before backtracking upstream to Hidden Falls.  We haven’t tried the sketchy rope but as far as we could tell the longer route only adds 10 minutes.

QUICK INFO

Distance 8 Miles Round Trip
Hours 4-5 Hours Includes breaks, swimming
Elevation n/a n/a
Scenery 4.5/5  Excellent
Crowds 4/5  Light (Mornings)
Adventure 4.5/5  Excellent
Difficulty 3.5/5  Difficult
Start Havasu Falls Campground

ROUTE MAP

Follow trail guide to Beaver Falls. Before you climb down to Beaver Falls, you will see a sign which splits the trail. Follow the trail leading to the higher ground. We prefer this safer and longer route over the rope climb.

From the higher route, you can already see the destination, the calm turquoise pool awaiting.

Inspired Tip

The higher route will quickly lead back down to the stream. As soon as you hit the creak you take a left and head upstream. Stay left as you tramp upstream, there is a faint trail to Hidden Falls.

EXPLORING THROUGH HAVASU CREEK

One great aspect of Havasupai is you can always find a secluded place to chill away from the popular waterfalls. There are countless mini waterfalls and great spots to swim or hang your hammock all along the creek.

Inspired Tip

We thoroughly enjoyed getting off the trail and just hiking through the water, exploring from one waterfall to the next. This was especially successful the last mile or so coming upstream from Beaver Falls to Mooney Falls.

HIKE TO THE COLORADO RIVER CONFLUENCE

A scenic hike that takes you from the campground, past Mooney & Beaver Falls, all the way to where the Havasu Creek meets the mighty Colorado River. Depending on the time of the year, you may find the Colorado River a chocolate brown color or clear and green. This is an all-day 16 mile round trip adventure so be sure to hike with plenty of food and water (preferably a water filter). Be sure to start early, the hike back to the campground can be extremely hot and exposed.

Water Tip

You could carry enough water for the full day, but that would be heavy and warm by the afternoon. Eliminate the water weight in your daypack while enjoying cold, refreshing water. Just bring a water filter like the Sawyer Squeeze and filter the cool creek water.

The trail is the same as the route to Beaver Falls. From Beaver Falls, take the split in the trail to the higher route (as in the route to Hidden Falls). When the high trail brings you back to the creek head downstream. The trail from there is faint and crosses the stream on multiple occasions. Keep in mind that as long as you are following the creek downstream, you will get to the confluence. We even spotted a few Bighorn Sheep along the way!

QUICK INFO

Distance 16 Miles Round Trip
Hours Approx 8 Hours Includes breaks, swimming
Elevation n/a n/a
Scenery 4/5  Excellent
Crowds 4.5/5  Light
Adventure 4/5  Excellent
Difficulty 4/5  Difficult
Start Havasu Falls Campground

ROUTE MAP

Follow our trail guide to Beaver Falls. Once you reach the falls, keep right to take the higher ground route. There is a make shift sign marking “Do Not Enter After 11 am”.

The high trail quickly climbs down to the creek bed, from there head downstream. Look for faint trails and cairns on either side of the stream.

Gear Tip

On our second Havasupai trip we brought a lightweight daypack for our day 2 and 3 adventures. It’s hard to justify an extra 3 oz. in your backpack but it was really nice to have a legit daypack like the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack.

Start early so you can be the first group of the day heading downstream, maybe get lucky and see the Bighorn Sheep. We smelled them before spotting them!

As you approach the confluence, you will pass through a rock tunnel.

Before reaching the “narrows” of the creek, which leads to the confluence, you will cross the creek one more time and continue along the higher ground trail.

After not seeing any hikers since passing Mooney Falls, we were slightly surprised to see a large group of hikers heading upstream. They left their rafts at the confluence to find a nice place to swim in Havasu Creek.

Once we reached the confluence, we tried going upstream this narrow section and found it extremely difficult. The current is strong and could push you out into the confluence and into the Colorado River.

GEAR & FOOD

  • Backpack – Osprey Exos 38L Small – 35.5 oz
  • Bag Liner – Contractor Trash Bag – 2.5 oz
  • Water Bladder – 3L Camelbak Antidote – 77.4 oz
  • Water Bladder Tube Sleeve – to keep sun off plastic tube – 1.04 oz
  • Water Bag – 2L Evernew – 1.5 oz
  • Dry Bag – 13L Sea to Summit eVac – 2.55 oz
  • Air Mattress – Exped Medium Synmat Hyperlite Duo – 29 oz
    • Air Pillow (1) – Exped UL – 3 oz
  • Cooking Pot – Toaks Titanium 1300ml – 6.53 oz
    • Stove – Snowpeak Litemax – 2 oz
    • Gas – Snowpeak Giga Power 2 hr – 12.88 oz
    • Lighter – Standard Bic – 0.76 oz
  • Dry Bag / Pump Sack – Exped Nozzle – 2.04 oz
  • Summit Bag – Kathmandu – 2.88 oz
  • Hiker’s Toiletries – 13.9 oz
  • Quart Ziploc – organizes and protects, high visibility – 0.23 oz
    • TP, Glove & Wipe – 4.71 oz
    • MacGyver Kit – for fixing a wide range of problems – 2.4 oz
    • Extra Batteries – AAA – 2.39 oz
  • Tent Footprint bag – 0.41 oz
  • Right Pocket
    • Headlamps (1) – Black Diamond Spot – 3.14 oz
    • Sunscreen – repackaged into 1/2 oz bottle – 0.74 oz
    • Camera Kit – Battery, Cloth, Brush, Memory Card – 2.71 oz
  • Left Pocket
    • Snack – for day 1 hike – 3.8 oz
  • Backpack Top – Sealed Food – 78.7 oz
  • Backpack Back

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