For a long while I’d seen beautiful photos of a series of waterfalls in Arizona within the Grand Canyon. I definitely knew that I wanted to get out here, see them for myself, and take a whole bunch of photos.
Which is exactly what I did, after figuring out what and where they were, and how to get to them.
The waterfalls are the Havasu Falls, found within the Havasupai reservation in Arizona. It’s a 10-mile hike each way to Havasu Falls which requires you to pack in and pack out all your gear, and this being a harsh desert environment, you’re going to want to plan properly.
It’s also a popular place to visit, and planning ahead is essential to ensure you are able to get a permit and are able to visit.
In this post, I’m going to share everything I learnt from my own Havasu Falls hike experience. I’m going to answer all the questions you might have, share tips for your trip, tell you how to get great photos at the falls themselves, and lots more! And if I don’t answer your particular question, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help.
This post is regularly updated with the latest information, and currently includes information for booking Havasu Falls for 2023.
However, things can change quickly, so if you spot anything out of date please let me know in the comments.
Let’s get started with my guide to visiting Havasu Falls, Arizona, by answering some of questions you might have.
Table of Contents
Common Questions for Hiking to Havasu Falls
What are the Havasu Falls?
Havasu Falls are one of the waterfalls on the Havasupai reservation, found within the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
They are one of a series of falls found on Havasu Creek, a stream that flows into the Colorado River. The falls and the creek are famous for their incredible blue colour and idyllic, remote setting.
Havasu Falls and the other waterfalls on the creek can be visited as part of a trip onto the Havasupai reservation, home of the Havasupai tribe.
The Havasupai tribe, also known as the Havasu Baaja, or the “People of the Blue Green Waters”, have lived in this area for centuries, using the waters of Havasu Creek to irrigate their fields in this otherwise harsh desert landscape.
Supai Village, 8 miles from the trailhead and deep within the canyon, is home to many of the Havasupai people.
Havasu Falls, as well as the other falls near to Havasu Falls, have become a popular destination for hikers, photographers, and lovers of the wilderness, as well as generally for people who want to see these incredible falls themselves.
Why are the Havasu Falls so Blue?
When you see photos of Havasu Falls and the other falls on Havasu Creek, you will likely be astounded by the unreal blue colour of the water.
You will also probably think, as I did, that this is a result of some generous photo editing, rather than anything that can exist in real life.
Well, as I learnt, the falls and water really are that incredible iridescent shade of blue. This colour comes from the high levels of calcium carbonate in the water. This is further accented by the red canyon walls that rise up around the water, making the blue-green colour even more striking.
It really has to be seen to be believed!
How do you get to Havasu Falls?
Havasu Falls are found on the Havasupai reservation. They are primarily reached via a 10 mile (each way) hike from the Havasupai trailhead to the Havasu Falls.
Note that you can only visit Havasu Falls with a permit, and if you have accommodation booked.
Permits must be collected prior to your visit. As of 2023, permit collection is at the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn.
See the sections on permits and accommodation further on in the post.
Where is the Havasu Falls Trailhead?
The Havasu Falls trailhead is at Hualapai Hilltop, which is found at the end of BIA Road 18. You can see it here on Google Maps. The closest town is Peach Springs Arizona, where there is gas available.
The closest larger towns for supplies are Kingman, AZ and Williams, AZ. These towns are around 2.5 hours drive away.
At the trailhead there is a paved parking area, and a toilet. If the parking area is full (very likely), you can park along the road, although do be mindful of signage, as some parking is for vendors only.
There is no gas, water or other services available at the trailhead, so make sure you have plenty of gas available for the round trip. The closest gas station is at Peach Springs.
Where is the Nearest Airport to Havasu Falls Trailhead
The nearest major airports to Havasu Falls are Las Vegas, Nevada (~4 hours drive) or Phoenix, Arizona (~5 hours drive). These airports both offer good national and international connections.
Where Can I Stay near the Havasu Falls Trailhead?
The closest accommodation to Havasu Falls Trailhead is in Peach Springs, AZ, which is around a 90-minute drive from the trailhead.
This is actually on the original Route 66, so if you wanted to, you could see some of the Route 66 attractions as part of this trip. See our guides to spending a week on Route 66 and planning a Route 66 road trip for more information.
There are two accommodation options in the Peach Springs area, which are as follows.
- Grand Canyon Caverns Inn. Offers motel style accommodation. They are used to Havasupai hikers, and when I stayed they provided me with a little info pack for my trip out which included driving directions and a map for reaching the trailhead. This is also one of our recommended classic Route 66 motel options.
- Hualapai Lodge – Found in Peach Springs itself, this is a 2* hotel with an on-site restaurant and seasonal hot-tub. Note that some reviewers have noted that the proximity to the train line means if you are a light sleeper, you will likely want to bring ear plugs.
There are other options in Seligman and Kingman, however these are a quite a drive from the trailhead.
If you want to get an early start, which I would very much recommend, I’d advise staying closer to the trailhead if possible. The two options above are where I would recommend you stay.
As of 2023, the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn is also where you have to check-in for the hike and get your wristbands (more on this further on in the guide), so would likely make the most sense as you can check-in the day before your permit starts.
Do I need a Permit to Hike to Havasu Falls?
Yes, everyone visiting Havasu Falls needs a permit. If you book a campground reservation, the permit is included as part of the fee.
If you stay at Havasupai Lodge in Supai Village, the permit is charged as a separate fee during your booking.
The Havasupai tribe are quite careful about managing access to the reservation, and there are a number of controls in place to ensure everyone has the correct permission.
IMPORTANT – do not attempt to visit the trailhead or start the hike without your permit as you will be turned away.
As of 2023, you must pick up your permit before starting the hike. The permit office is located at the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn, which is found at Mile Marker 115 on Route 66 near Seligman.
This is where I stayed on the night prior to doing the hike and is a recommended nearby lodging option.
The trip leader is responsible for performing the check-in process, which can be done any time from one day before your arrival date through to the end of your permit.
To check-in, the trip leader will need to provide photo ID and a screenshot or print out of their reservation and account information page. They will receive wristbands, baggage tags and an entrance form which must be completed by every group member prior to arriving at the Hilltop area.
The wristbands are plasticized, and more than sturdy enough to stand up to a few days of swimming and hiking in my experience.
If you are travelling as a group, the group leader can check everyone in, however everyone in the group should have photo ID and a copy of their account information page as well as this will be reviewed at the Hilltop area and/or the Havasupai Reservation boundary checkpoint when you are driving to the Hilltop area.
Note that in prior years, permits were issued at Supai Village after the first 8km of the hike, and many websites will still have this information. You can see the update from the tribe here on the new process.
Instructions for permit collection will be provided when you buy your tickets, and on the official website, so be sure to check the most up to date information, as things can change.
Around four miles before you arrive at the trailhead you will pass through a vehicle checkpoint (the Havasupai Reservation boundary checkpoint) where your reservation and Photo ID will be checked.
Your car and belongings will be inspected for prohibited items, which include alcohol, illegal drugs, and drones. Make sure you don’t have any of these items in your car or with you along the trail, the search is very comprehensive and you will likely be refused entry if these items are discovered.
It may also be checked again when you arrive at the Hilltop parking area, although this didn’t happen to me, possibly because I arrived very early.
On the hike in, I was also stopped by a ranger on horseback, who asked everyone he was passing for their full name to check their reservation.
Everyone I encountered as part of the security and check in process was very professional and courteous. The only issue I had was on the hike in, when I took a photo of the pack mules which I had thought to include in this post.
I was quickly told by the guide accompanying the pack mules that photography of the mules was not permitted, and I deleted my photos. He was firm but polite and of course I was happy to comply.
For more on photography restrictions at Havasupai, see the section on photography.
Can you visit Havasu Falls as a Day Trip?
No, you are not permitted to visit Havasu Falls on a day trip. The only way to visit Havasu Falls is with an overnight reservation at either the campground or the Lodge in Supai Village.
See the section on accommodation in this guide for more information.
Note that you used to be able to visit Havasu Falls on a day trip, but this is no longer possible.
How Long is the Havasupai Trail?
The Havasupai trail is approximately 10 miles in length from the Hualapai trailhead where you park your car, to Havasu Falls.
From the trailhead to Supai village is 8 miles, and then it’s a further two miles to Havasu Falls.
Just below Havasu Falls, the trail enters the campground. From here there’s another mile of trail through the campground area.
At the end of the campground, the trail descends to Mooney Falls, after which you can follow further trails to Beaver Falls and beyond. See more on what there is do at Havasu Falls further on in the post.
Here are some numbers of trail lengths:
- Trailhead to Supai Village: 8 miles
- Supai Village to Havasu Falls: 2 miles (10 miles total from Trailhead)
- Havasu Falls to Mooney Falls: 1 mile (11 miles total from Trailhead)
- Mooney Falls to Beaver Falls: 2 miles (13 miles total from Trailhead)
- Beaver Falls to Colorado River Confluence: 4 miles (17 miles total from Trailhead)
How Long Does It Take to Hike to Havasupai?
It took me around four hours to hike from the trailhead to Havasu Falls, and it took me around five hours to hike out from the falls to the trailhead.
Of course, the amount of time it takes you will vary depending on your level of fitness, how much gear you choose to carry, and the weather conditions.
I’d say that I am of average fitness, but I am not used to hiking with full camping equipment. I was pretty happy with my time, and based on other trip reports, I’d say it’s a pretty average time for the trip.
If you are particularly fit, expect to take less time. If you are not used to this sort of activity, it will likely take you longer.
How Hard is the Havasupai Trail Hike?
How hard you find the hike will of course vary depending on how used to hiking with camping gear you are.
The hike is not technically difficult, and the trail is easy to follow. However, if you are not relatively fit, or used to hiking with a fair amount of gear on your back, you might find it a bit of a challenge. This is especially the case on the hike out which involves plenty of elevation gain.
In summer, you will also be dealing with extreme temperatures, which can go well over 100F as the day progresses. If you hike in summer, you will want to hike as early in the morning as possible so as to avoid the heat.
When I did the hike, the trail opened at 4am, and I would advise starting the hike as close to 4am as possible in the summer months so as to complete the majority of it in the shade and cooler temperatures.
Here’s an overview of the hike each way to give you an idea of what to expect.
Hiking from the Trailhead to Havasu Falls Campground
The hike into Havasu Falls is pretty much all downhill. Overall, you descend from 5,200 ft at the trailhead to 2,800 ft at the campground, a total elevation change of around 2,400 ft.
For reference, that’s approximately twice the height of the Empire State building, or a vertical half mile.
The first mile or so of the trail from the trailhead is the steepest part of the trail, with a number of switchbacks down the side of the canyon wall and to the riverbed.
If you are not used to carrying your gear on your back, you will want to take it easy here as your body adjusts to the extra weight.
After the first mile or so, the rest of the hike will feel fairly level. It follows a dry river bed down to Supai village. The village has some food options, public toilets, and a couple of stores for supplies. There are large signs to point you in the right direction.
After Supai Village, the trail drops down a bit more until you reach Havasu Falls and the camping area. Here are some photos of the hike to give you some idea of what it is like.
Return Hike from Havasu Falls Campground to the Trailhead
In my experience, the hike out is definitely more challenging than the hike in. It starts with the ascent out of the campground and up to Supai Village, an elevation change of 400 feet, after which you retrace your steps along the dry river bed.
It’s around this time that you realize that what felt like a flat walk on the way in is actually a gently sloping walk all the way out. It’s not super-hard, but it is consistently uphill. The surface you are walking on is largely loose sand and small rocks, which doesn’t make progress easier. Expect your feet to be very dusty by the end.
The hardest part of the hike by far is the final mile or so as you climb up out of the canyon and to the trailhead. The switchback trail gains a lot of elevation, and you will want to take plenty of breaks.
I would also advise trying to get to this point before the sun is shining into the canyon. When I did the hike out of Havasupai in early July, I made it to the start of the switchback here just before 8am, which was just in time to beat the sun, something I was very thankful for. That meant leaving the campground just before 4am.
Is Water Available on the Havasu Falls Trail?
There is no water available along the trail, or at the parking area or trailhead. The only water is available in the campground, or at the lodge in Supai Village. There are also bottled drinks for sale at the lodge in the village.
It is absolutely vital that you carry plenty of water for the hike, both in and out. For the hike in you will need to fill up your water bottles before you set off to the trailhead. For the hike out, you can fill your bottles at the spring in the campground if you are camping, or at the lodge if you are staying at the lodge.
I’d recommend 3 – 4 litres of water per person for the hike each way, and ideally an electrolyte based drink or some soluble electrolyte tablets like this.
Dehydration is a really serious condition, and you absolutely need to take care of yourself and your hiking companions. Check out the signs of dehydration so you know what to look for.
Are there Toilets on the Havasu Falls Trail?
There are no toilets along the trail. The only toilets are at the trailhead, at Supai Village and at the campground.
Ideally you will not need to use the toilet during your hike, but obviously the situation might arise. The tribe requests that if you must go, to please be courteous to other visitors and pack out everything that is non-liquid, including toilet paper.
The easiest option for doing this is to use a “wag bag”. However, Ziploc Freezer Bags will work. Just flip the bag inside out and use it like a glove to pick up all solids and then flip back and seal up and place in another sealed up outer Ziploc Freezer Bag).
See more on the principles of leaving no trace here.
Is the Havasu Falls Trail Easy to Follow?
The Havasu Falls trail is easy to follow. For the most part it is a wide and sandy trail that is well trodden. The descent down the hill from the trailhead is an obvious switchback trail, and then the trail follows a river bed.
At any point on the trail where there is the possibility of confusion, there are very obvious signs to follow. You will also likely be walking with other people, and there will be plenty of obvious footprints to follow as well.
Do I have to Hike to visit Havasu Falls?
Whilst the majority of visitors to Havasu Falls choose to hike, it is not the only option. On some days you also have the option of taking a helicopter, which flies from the trailhead to Supai Village and back. This is operated by Air West helicopters.
Note that the helicopter can be cancelled without notice for a variety of reasons.
As such, helicopter flights cannot be relied on, and you should definitely be prepared to hike in and out with all your gear.
Even if you do take the helicopter, be aware that it lands at Supai Village, which is two miles from the campground and Havasu Falls, so there will still be some hiking required to see the falls and get to the campground if you are camping.
You also need a permit with an overnight reservation to use the helicopter.
Using the Helicopter at Havasu Falls
The helicopter service to and from the Havasupai Trailhead to the Supai Village is operated by Air West helicopters.
From March 15th through to October 15th, the helicopter operates on Thursdays, Friday, Sundays and Mondays. During the rest of the year the helicopter only operates on Fridays and Sundays.
The helicopter service operates on all holidays except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day.
On the days that it runs, the helicopter service from the Havasupai trailhead to Supai Village and back usually operates from 10am in the morning, although this time can vary.
The helicopter costs $100 per person each way (as of August 2020), and you can take one carry-on sized bag with you. There is a $10 surcharge if you pay by card instead of cash.
The helicopter operates on a first come first serve basis, and there is a wait-list on the day. It cannot be booked in advance.
Wait list sign ups generally open around an hour before the flights start. However, the queue for the helicopter wait-list can start much earlier than this, especially in Supai Village (the hike out is harder than the hike in, so many people hike in and take the helicopter out).
When I hiked out of Havasupai in July, I walked through Supai village at 4.30am and the line for the helicopter wait list had already begun!
Note that locals and employees get priority on the helicopter, regardless of when they show up. So if a lot of locals are travelling on a particular day, you may need to wait even longer.
Usually, Fridays are the busiest days for locals leaving Supai Village, and Mondays are the busiest days for locals flying from the trailhead. On these days, you can face significant delays if going in the same direction as the locals.
AirWest endeavours to fly everyone who signs up between 10am and 1pm on the day. If you sign up after 1pm, you will be added to a standby list, but your flight is not guaranteed. Flights are also always weather dependent, and like any flight, can be cancelled for a variety of reasons.
The information above was obtained by contacting Air West helicopters directly via phone, and is up to date as of 2020. We do recommend calling Air West prior to planning your trip for the most up to date information. There is an automated message which tells you everything you need to know. Contact information is available on the Air West helicopters website.
What are the Accommodation Options at Havasu Falls?
There are two accommodation options at Havasu Falls.
The first of these is the Havasu Falls campground, which is found along the Havasu River around 2 miles from Supai village, between Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls.
The other option is Havasupai Lodge in Supai Village itself. The lodge has room with beds, hot showers (subject to hot water availability) with soap and towels, and both air-conditioning and heating. Rooms also have electrical outlets, four per room.
There is also WiFi at the lodge, and guests have access to a communal fridge, as well as a microwave.
Note that wild camping is not permitted anywhere on the reservation land, you can only camp within the marked camping area, which is between Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls.
How Much does it Cost to visit Havasu Falls?
The price of visiting Havasu Falls varies depending on where you choose to stay, either the Havasu Falls Campground, or the Havasupai Lodge.
These are managed entirely separately, and they have different booking processes and cancellation policies, which we will also cover further on in the post.
Cost of Camping at Havasu Falls
Camping at Havasu Falls in 2023 is $100 per person for a weekday night, and $125 per person for a weekend night.
Reservations for the campground are only available for 3 nights and 4 days, so you are looking at between $300 and $375 per person depending on when your visit is.
The price for 2019 was increased over previous years, largely because the tribe decided to reduce the total number of available reservations and create a more pleasurable experience for visitors. I appreciate it may seem high, but it is definitely worth it!
That price includes your entry permit, taxes, environmental care fee, etc. This fee has to be paid in full in advance when you make your booking.
Cost of Staying at Havasupai Lodge
For 2023, the prices for the lodge are $1980 for a room. This is for a three night stay, so is $660 per night.
Rooms sleep 4 people, so this works out to be $165 per person.
These fees include taxes and are subject to change. I’d recommend checking the official website for the most up to date information.
How do I Book for Havasu Falls in 2023?
Havasupai has been closed for the years of 2020, 2021 and 2022. It was formally announced on the 26th December 2022 that it would reopen for the 2023 season.
Normally there are two methods for booking accommodation at Havasu Falls, depending on if you want to stay at the lodge or the campground and I’ll cover these below.
Let me cover the options you have for 2023 as well as for future years.
How to book a campground at Havasu Falls for 2023
I will now cover the process for 2023 for booking a campground at Havasu Falls.
For 2023, the only way to get a booking is through the transfer system on the official website. There are no standard reservations available as all the bookings from the cancelled years were rolled forward, meaning there was no standard availability. The good news is that not everyone is able to make their trip dates and so transfers are available.
The campground reservations list is found on the official website once you have created an account. It is updated once every day at 8am Arizona time so if you want to visit Havasu Falls in 2023 I recommend visiting the site every day at 8am Arizona time. Setting up an account and adding your payment information will make the process faster.
How to book a campground at Havasu Falls in future years
I will now cover the process which should be in place from 2024, all being well.
If you want to camp, you have to book and pay online at Havasupai Reservations. All campground reservations have to be done online through the official reservations website, there is no phone, e-mail, or in person booking option. One person can book a trip for up to 20 people, subject to availability of course.
Normally, campground reservations open at the beginning of February for the whole season, usually on the 1st February. The best option is to sign up for an account on the official website so you can be notified when reservations for the Havasupai Campground open.
If you want to camp at Havasu Falls, you should register at the official reservation page at least a couple days in advance of the reservations opening. On the day the reservations open the system gets very slow, and you don’t want to waste time creating a profile.
There are a few steps to creating a profile, including nominating a potential alternative trip leader in case the primary person booking the trip can’t make it. You can also select your preferred dates in advance, which can make the booking process a lot faster, and this is recommended.
You also have the option to add your payment information to the system in advance. Again, I’d advise doing this so you don’t have to worry about it on checkout.
Please be aware that if you are travelling as a group, everyone who is coming needs to have an account, not just the trip leader. However, the group members only need to have the account prior to arrival, not prior to booking.
Campground reservations usually sell out entirely within a few hours of the system coming online.
When the day of the reservations open, expect the system to go very slowly. It is definitely a painful and frustrating experience, but if you persevere you should be able to get a date.
It took me a couple of hours to finally get to the end of the process, and I had to be fairly flexible with my dates as my first choices were booked before I could get through.
If you have problems or questions, the contact information is Support@HavasupaiReservations.com.
How to book at Havasupai Lodge for 2023
I will now cover the process for 2023 for booking the lodge at Havasu Falls.
As with the campsite, for 2023 the only way to get a booking at the lodge is through the transfer system on the official website. There are no standard reservations available as all the bookings from the cancelled years were rolled forward, meaning there was no standard availability. The good news is that not everyone is able to make their trip dates and so transfers are available.
The lodge reservations list is found on the official website once you have created an account. It is updated once every day at 8am Arizona time so if you want to visit Havasu Falls and stay at the lodge in 2023 I recommend visiting the site every day at 8am Arizona time. Setting up an account and adding your payment information will make the process faster.
How to book at Havasupai Lodge for future years
I will now cover the normal process for booking the lodge at Havasu Falls.
The booking process for Havasupai Lodge is entirely different than that of the campground, and is managed by different teams.
The only way to book at Havasupai Lodge in Supai Village is online at this website. Note that this is new as of 2021. Up to 2020 the only way to book was by phone, so you might find other information advising you to call. This is incorrect as of 2021.
In normal times, reservations for the following year usually open at the beginning of June – in 2019 for example, you could book any date in 2020 from the 1st June 2019 at 8am. So Havasupai Lodge reservations for 2023 would, in normal years, have opened in June 2022. However, lodge reservations for 2023 are only available through the transfer system.
Demand for the lodge is also high, and you should expect the website to be busy when reservations open. All I can suggest is patience and persistence. When you get through, be sure to have all your details, including your name, address, phone number, required dates, and credit card information.
To make things easier, I recommend you sign up for an account well in advance. Once you have done that, you can pre-populate the reservation system with your details and credit card information, to make it easier to book when you get to the end of the process.
You can also pre-register your preferred dates. It’s also a good idea to have an idea of backup dates in case your first dates are not available.
What if I have to cancel my trip?
For 2023 the same system is in place for both the lodge and the campground (in previous years they had different systems.
Now, if you have either a lodge or campground reservation, you can transfer them using the official transfer system. This system was implemented in 2019 for the campground and 2022 for the lodge.
Prior to these dates there was a no-refund, no-transfer, no-cancellation policy, and many outdated websites still say this.
To transfer a campground or lodge reservation, you have to do it through the official Havasupai Reservations system. You can either transfer your reservation directly to someone you know will want it, or you can release the dates into the system so others looking in the official system can find them.
For either of these options, once the person buying your transfer has done so, your payment will be returned minus a 10% transfer fee.
If you do need to cancel, we’d suggest putting your reservation up for transfer in the official Havasupai reservation system as soon as possible.
Also be aware that you are not permitted to advertise your transfer anywhere other than in the official system, and doing so runs the risk of having your whole trip voided with no refund at all.
We highly recommend having good travel insurance that includes cancellation cover should you need to cancel your trip.
Havasu Falls Sold Out! Now what?
The first time I thought about going to Havasu Falls, I figured it would just be a question of popping onto the website, making a booking for when I wanted to go, and then wandering in.
I quickly learnt that this is not the case. If you want to visit Havasu Falls, you need to plan well in advance, and you need to make your booking on the day that the reservation systems open for the best chance of success.
But, life happens, and not everyone is going to necessarily manage to get a booking.
All hope is not lost. Life happens to other people too, and as described in the section above, when folks cancel, their bookings can become available.
If this happens for lodge or campground reservations, they will appear in the Havasu Reservations website on the cancellation / reservation list.
This list updates regularly (normally every day at 8am Arizona time for both the lodge and campground), and is your best option for securing a reservation. Note that you cannot buy part of a reservation – if the available spots are for more people than you want, you will have to buy the whole reservation, and then you can use the transfer system to try and sell any spare slots.
If you want to go to Havasu and have not been able to get a reservation, the transfer list is somewhere you should be checking on a daily basis. In the course of writing this post, just over a few days I have seen reservations popping up for sale.
Of course, using the transfer system is going to require you to be fairly flexible in terms of dates. It will also be harder the more people you are trying to travel with. People traveling alone have a better chance than a group of 5 people. But it is definitely possible to visit Havasu Falls even if you miss the initial reservation window.
Where Can I Rent Camping Gear for Havasu Falls?
If you are from the U.S., you probably have your own camping gear, but international travelers are less likely to have their own gear with them.
When I visited Havasu Falls it was as part of a longer trip across the USA, which we’d started from our home in the UK. I didn’t want to bring camping equipment from the UK, and buying gear for a one-off trip seemed unnecessary and wasteful.
Thankfully, there are a number of options for renting camping gear. I flew into Las Vegas, which was where I picked up a car rental to drive out to Havasupai.
I rented my camping equipment from a company called Basecamp Outdoor Gear.
These guys only do gear rental, and you need to book in advance before your trip, which you can do on their website. You can book items individually, or (as I did), you can book a camping kit. They also rent out hiking backpacks, which I also took advantage of.
Once you’ve booked, you arrange a pick up time. As it was only a 10 minute drive from Las Vegas airport to the pick up location this was a really convenient option, and I thought the prices were very fair. The equipment I rented was in excellent condition and it was good quality stuff too.
Of course, there are lots of other options for renting camping gear, some of which will even mail you the gear in advance of your trip – either to your home, or to your hotel in Peach Springs.
Here are some options to consider.
Online Rental with delivery
- Lower Gear Outdoors, Rent online, Nationwide shipping (to home or even to hotels in Peach Springs) and return
- Outdoors Geek, Rent online, Nationwide shipping and return
Camping Gear Rental in Arizona
- Chandler: REI
- Flagstaff: Babbitt’s Backcountry Outfitters
- Flagstaff: Peace Surplus
- Grand Canyon: The General Store at Grand Canyon Village Marketplace
- Phoenix: AZ Hiking Shack
- Tempe and Lake Havasu City: Lower Gear Outdoors
- Scottsdale: Just Roughin’ It Adventure Company
Camping Gear Rental in Nevada
When is Havasu Falls Open?
As of 2019, you can visit Havasu Falls year-round. However, not every accommodation open is available throughout the year.
If you want to stay in the campground, the Havasu Falls campground is open from the 1st February through to the 30th November.
If you want to stay in Havasupai Lodge, in 2019 this was open from April through to December. Starting in 2020, the lodge is normally open year-round.
When is the Best Time to visit Havasupai?
The reality is that the demand for campground and lodge reservations is so high that the best time to visit Havasupai is likely going to be whenever you can get a reservation!
However, visiting at different times will result in a different experience. Here’s an overview of what to expect at different times of year.
Winter at Havasupai (December, January and February)
This is the coldest time of year, and only the lodge will be open at this time of year and you won’t be allowed to camp. Expect freezing temperatures overnight, and temperatures generally in a range of 30F – 55F.
You will want to bring warm clothes for day and night wear, and despite the water having a year round temperature of 70F, the air temperature will make swimming an unattractive option.
Spring at Havasupai (March – May)
March through to May is a nice time for hiking at Havasupai as the temperatures are not extremely hot, but are instead pleasant.
It might be a bit cool for swimming still in early Spring, but this will improve as the months progress. Note that the trees will likely be bare at this time of year.
Summer at Havasupai (June – mid September)
This is by far the hottest time of year to visit, with day time temperatures likely to exceed 100F. If you visit at this time of year, you will want to plan your hike in and out as early as possible – ideally you’ll want to start hiking at 4am to avoid the heat.
This time of year is great for swimming and the trees are lovely and green. There is a possibility of bugs, although I had no issues when I visited in July. Also be aware that there is a higher possibility of thunderstorms and flash floods at this time of year.
It is worth knowing that on days when the temperature goes above 115F the trail will close to hikers for safety reasons. This is most common in July and August, so if you want to avoid this happening, try to visit in the cooler months.
Fall at Havasupai (mid-September – November)
As September draws to an end the temperatures will start to drop. Conditions will be similar to Spring, with cooler temperatures, around 50F – 80F. It’s great for hiking, and should be warm enough for swimming still. The leaves will also turn, which can make for some lovely photos.
So when is the best time to visit Havasu Falls?
Well, if you want a quieter experience, you will want to visit when only the lodge is open over the winter months. With the campground closed, you will only be visiting with the other people staying at the Lodge.
The lodge has 24 rooms which can each accommodate up to 4 people. So the maximum number of people staying at the lodge is 96.
I’m not sure what the total number of campsite reservations is that they accept each day when the campground is open, but I have seen numbers ranging from 200 – 300 a day. As they pretty much always sell out, when the campground is operating the trails and sights will obviously be busier.
Otherwise, I would say that May or September would be good months to visit. It should not be insanely hot, but it should still be warm enough to enjoy swimming.
Can I Take a Tour to Havasu Falls?
In prior years it was possible to take a guided tour to Havasu Falls with an outside company. However, as of 2019, it is no longer possible to book a guided tour to Havasu Falls, and the only way to get in is by making the reservation yourself and planning the logistics yourself.
The tribe now manages all visitors themselves. This decision will likely be evaluated on a year by year basis, and we will update this post if it changes.
There are no options to hire any kind of guide at the time of writing this post.
Do I Have to Carry all my Gear?
If you are camping, you will be carrying all your camping equipment as well as food and any other supplies, which can add up to quite a heavy pack.
If you would rather not carry all your equipment, you have the option to request a pack mule. This option is available for both campground and lodge guests.
The pack mules are managed by the tribe and they make regular trips to and from the trail head to the campsite / lodge.
If you hire a pack mule and your reservations is successful, you will need to drop your bags off at the trailhead or accommodation drop off point by a certain time in the morning. You leave your bags at that location, and then hike in.
Your bag will then be collected by a tribe member who is responsible for a group of pack mules. They will guide the mules to the lodge or campground, where your bags will be dropped off. You will then need to collect your bags from the drop-off point.
During this time, you won’t have access to your bags. We would suggest you have a daypack with water, snacks, camera, any essential medication as well as other essentials / valuables. You should also have a copy of your accommodation reservation, and ID.
Note that you cannot ride the pack mules, nor are you able to accompany them personally. When hiking, you need to give way to the pack mules. They are faster and bigger than you, so give them plenty of space.
Each pack mule can carry up to four bags, with a maximum weight of 32lbs per bag. In 2023, the price for a pack mule for round-trip transport was $400. So if you do hire a pack mule, it only really makes financial sense if you split the costs with four other people.
If you are travelling with less than four people, it might make more sense to take the helicopter instead, as you can take a pack on this. See more on helicopters elsewhere in the post.
If you want to book a pack mule, it is highly advisable to do it at the same time as you make your reservation. There are a limited number of pack mules available, far fewer than the number of people hiking in and out each day.
Pack mule reservations are not guaranteed – you put in a request when you have made your reservation, and you will find out if the request was successful before your visit.
In theory it is possible to book pack mules for one-way transport; however, the official website advises that as priority is given to round trip bookings, one-way bookings are unlikely to be successful.
How to Book a Pack Mule for Havasupai
For the campground, you make your pack mule request once you have made your booking online.
If you do not book your pack mule when you reserve your campground, you can return to your reservation and add one at any time.
However, the longer you leave it, the further down the wait list you will go, and the lower the likelihood of a pack mule reservation.
For Havasupai Lodge, you make your pack mule reservation request when you book over the phone. We recommend doing this when you book, as otherwise you will have to call back, and you will be lower in the waitlist queue.
If you change your mind before the pack mule reservation is confirmed, you can cancel without a fee online for the campground, and over the phone for the lodge.
However, once the pack mule reservation is confirmed it is non-refundable, non-changeable, and non-transferable. So if you can’t make the trip, you will not get your fee refunded.
If you book a pack mule, be sure to follow the instructions around where to leave your bag, how to label your bag, as well as the rules around weight and size restrictions.
A note about the pack mules. Prior to 2019, there was concern over the welfare of the pack mules. However, the tribe has made significant changes to their policies regarding the pack mules, including things like maximum pack weights, and as of 2019 the pack mules are believed to be treated better.
Certainly, I saw a number of pack mules go past when I was hiking in and out, and they looked to be in good condition.
That said, I am certainly no expert on animal welfare, and I personally chose to carry all my belongings. That decision was more to do with wanting to overcome the challenge of the hike (it is quite a feeling of accomplishment!), but please make your own mind up regarding use of a pack mule.
If you don’t want to carry your gear or use a pack mule, consider using the helicopter service to get to and from Havasupai instead.
How Long Should I Stay at Havasu Falls?
The minimum amount of time I would recommend for a Havasu Falls trip would be two nights and three days. This way you get a full day of rest between the hike in and hike out, as well as time to explore.
For a more relaxing experience, I would recommend spending three nights. This will give you ample opportunity for swimming, hiking out to some of the other sights, and generally enjoying this incredible location. It will also give you more recovery time between the hike in and out.
Three nights is the amount of time recommended by the tribe, and as of 2019, all campground reservations at Havasu Falls are for three nights / four days. Of course, you don’t have to stay all three nights, but as you are paying for it, you might want to consider taking advantage of it.
For Havasupai Lodge, as of the time of writing this post there is no minimum reservation length, so you can stay for just one night if you want. But we’d recommend a minimum of 2 nights.
I’d definitely advise against just staying one night as this will be quite exhausting, especially if you hike.
If you want to stay for longer than the three night campground reservation but you still want to camp, you can try to add time at the lodge either before or after your campground reservation. As far as I can tell, you can also book an additional campground reservation adjoining your existing reservation, although that would result in a six night stay.
Personally, I think three nights and four days is a good amount of time for your visit. Staying for much longer will make the logistics of booking the trip more challenging, plus you will have to carry more food.
How Busy is the Havasu Falls Hike / Campground?
From 2019, the tribe reduced the total number of permits for access to Havasupai, and as such, less people are visiting each day than in previous years.
It is certainly not a quiet experience, and you will definitely be frequently passing people on the trail as you hike in and out. There will also be plenty of other people at the campsite and at the waterfalls. However, it did not feel crowded at all, and there was more than enough space for everyone when I was there.
There were also plenty of toilets available in the campground area, with three toilet locations throughout the camp. There was also no shortage of camping areas with picnic tables to choose from.
It was also possible to have moments entirely alone if you don’t mind keeping odd hours. For example, I found myself all alone at Havasu Falls for sunrise and when I went to shoot the stars over the falls in the evening.
So even when it is busy it is possible to find moments alone to enjoy nature.
For the hike in and out, I certainly passed plenty of people, but I started very early and it never felt crowded or too busy.
What Facilities does the Havasu Falls Campground have?
The campground is fairly basic, but it does have three sets of toilets as well as a spring for drinking water. There are also picnic tables throughout, and most people pitch their camp next to a picnic table.
The toilets are laid out with one set at the start, one in the middle and one at the end. They are composting toilets rather than flush toilets, but they were in good condition when I visited with plenty of toilet paper. I observed them being cleaned regularly while I was there.
There is one spring for drinking water in the campsite called Fern Spring. The tribe recommend you filter or boil this water before drinking it. I personally brought a LifeStraw water bottle and used it for the spring water and drank directly from the river using it.
There are also no trash facilities at the campground. You need to carry your trash out with you. Please do this. There was so much trash at the site left behind by inconsiderate campers, including entire camping setups. I couldn’t quite believe it.
The tribe do their best to keep the site tidy, but picking up left behind tents, tarps and other trash like that really shouldn’t be up to them. It’s really sad to see such a beautiful place being impacted by people. If you don’t want to carry something out, I’d suggest not bringing it in in the first place.
There are also no showers or washing facilities at the campground. You are also not permitted to use soap or shampoo in the creek or campground.
Which is the Best Part of the Campground at Havasupai?
I explored the campground fairly thoroughly when I was there, and I would say that there isn’t a huge difference from one end to the other.
The campground at Havasupai is around a mile long, so it will take you around 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other.
As I mentioned, there isn’t that much difference; however, when picking a campsite there are some things to bear in mind.
First, if you are hiking in and out and carrying all your gear, if you camp closer to Havasu Falls then your hike out won’t be as long. I made the mistake of camping at the far end of the campsite, which meant my hike back out had an extra mile added on as I had to get all the way through the campground first.
Next, if you visit in summer, be aware that the canyon walls get very hot during the day, and radiate heat into the canyon. If you camp closer to the water, this effect is mitigated a little bit.
It is worth being aware that flash flooding is a possibility, particularly from June to August. There is not a lot of high ground at Havasupai, but it is marked on the map you are given when you check-in.
If rain is forecast in the area during your stay, you should definitely consider camping closer to the high ground locations so you can find a safe spot if the river rises, which can happen suddenly and with minimal warning.
As I cover in my tips section below, squirrels can be a real nuisance at the campground. They will eat through your tent and bags to get to any food they smell. I’m not sure if there were areas of the campsite with less squirrels than others, but if you see piles of them you might want to camp somewhere else.
If you don’t want to carry water back and forth long distances, you might consider camping nearer to Fern Spring. You may also consider camping closer to the restrooms if you don’t want a longer walk to these.
Finally, if you are visiting in summer, I’d advise picking a campsite with as much shade as possible. Most of the camp is pretty shady, but just bear in mind that temperatures regularly exceed 100F in the summer, and you will definitely appreciate the shade.
Otherwise, just find a nice level spot with a spare picnic table (they are found through the campsite), and pitch up. There was no shortage of space at all when I visited, and you definitely don’t need to hike through the entire campsite looking for the “perfect spot”, as to be honest, they are all pretty similar to each other!
Is There Food Available at Havasu Falls?
The answer to this appears to vary depending on the time of year. In Supai Village itself, there is a general store and a cafe, although the latter was closed for renovation when I visited. You can see opening hours and an idea of what they have for sale here.
There are also various stalls between the village and the campground advertising fry bread and soft drinks, including frozen Gatorade. These were advertised as being open during the day, and I did see people with frozen Gatorade, however I didn’t try the food.
In terms of paying for items, cash is obviously the easiest option, so I’d make sure you have some cash on you. Although in the village you should be able to pay by card. Be aware that prices will be a little higher than average due to the remote location and challenges associated with getting products here.
However, it is a good option to have if you run low on supplies.
Can I Take Photos at Havasupai / Havasu Falls?
Yes, you can take photos at Havasupai, as hopefully this post demonstrates.
There are however some exceptions to this rule.
You are not allowed to take any photos of Supai Village, of any tribe members, or of the pack mules / horses on the trail.
In addition, drone photography of any kind is not permitted anywhere in Havasupai, and drones are not permitted on the reservation. There is a risk that drones may be confiscated if brought onto the reservation, so we would advise leaving them at home.
Other than this, you can take as many photos as you want. See more photography tips section for some tips on getting great photos at Havasupai.
Are Pets Allowed at Havasu Falls?
Pets are not allowed on the Havasu Falls hike. There are dogs in the village, but these belong to the people who live in the village. Visitors are not permitted to bring any animals with them.
Is the Havasu Falls Hike Suitable for Kids / Families?
This of course depends on the kids! Certainly, families do visit Havasu Falls and I saw a number of families on the hike and at the campground.
Obviously the hike is long and probably not a good option for young children The official website discourages bringing young children due to length of trail, extreme weather, safety hazards, lack of medical facilities, etc.
Whether or not it is suitable for your kids will be a personal decision, as no one knows your kids like you do. This might be a great trip for older kids and teens!
Is Alcohol Permitted at Havasu Falls?
Alcohol is not permitted anywhere at Havasu Falls. Your vehicle will be inspected on the road in, and you should not have alcohol in your vehicle.
It is actually both a tribal and federal crime to possess, distribute or consume alcohol on the Reservation. This is punishable by up to one year of imprisonment (see law 18 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 1154 and 1156)
Similar laws and penalties exist for the possession and/or consumption of illegal drugs on the reservation, including marijuana.
Is There Cell Phone Reception at Havasu Falls?
Personally I did not have cell phone reception at Havasu Falls, and in fact I didn’t have reception from at least an hour’s drive away from the trailhead. This is a very remote part of the world, and there just aren’t many cell towers out here.
That said, I know other people mentioned that they did occasionally get reception. However, I would absolutely not rely on having phone reception, and I would assume you will have no reception or connectivity of any kind during your visit. There is also no WiFi along the trail.
To save your phone battery, I would suggest switching it to airplane mode. This will let you use it as a camera, but the battery won’t run down as it tries to find a mobile signal.
If you are staying at the Havasupai Lodge in Supai Village, there is free WiFi here.
Is Havasu Falls Open Year Round?
As of April 2019, the lodge at Supai Village is open year round, meaning you can visit Havasu all year.
Full Pricing Information for Camping / Lodge / Helicopter / Mules at Havasu Falls
We’ve covered this information elsewhere in the post, but we wanted to put it all in one place for quick reference. Prices are up to date as of 2022.
Campground Prices for Havasupai for 2023
- $100 per night per adult during the week
- $125 per night per adult on weekends
Campground stays are all for three nights / four days and include all taxes and entry permit.
Lodge Prices for Havasupai for 2023
- $440 per room (sleeps up to four people)
- $110 per person entry fee
Lodge prices include all taxes and the $110 fee covers the entry permit. There is no minimum reservation duration.
Pack Mule Prices for Havasupai
- $400 for round-trip pack mule, can carry up to four bags
One way mules are theoretically bookable but priority is given to round-trip bookings.
Helicopter Prices for Havasupai
- $100 one way per adult. Children under 2 free. $10 surcharge for paying by card
What to See and Do at Havasupai
Now that you know what to expect of the Havasupai Trail and the experience in general, you might be wondering what there is to see and do here.
Well, the answer is plenty! Here’s what you can get up to.
Havasu Falls is definitely the star of the show. On the hike from the campground you will pass some other falls (see the section below on other waterfalls), but Havasu Falls is the one that will really take your breath away.
The falls are one continuous drop into a large pool, and are around 100 ft in height. The large pool below the falls in popular for swimming and picnicking.
A mile or so downstream (basically at the other end of the campsite) from Havasu Falls is Mooney Falls.
In terms of waterfalls, Mooney is just over twice the height of Havasu Falls, at 205 feet. It falls straight down into a large round pool surrounded by red rocks.
Mooney Falls can be seen from viewpoints around the rim. It is also possible to hike down to the base of the falls.
This is a challenging descent down a very steep path, which includes time passing through caves, as well as a descent holding onto chains, ladders and handholds. Up until the cave section the descent is not too bad, but the section after the caves is much more tricky.
This descent is not recommended if you are nervous about heights, or if the weather is bad.
It’s also recommended to wear gloves for improved grip, and to secure all your valuables and place them into a backpack.
When I visited, there was a collection of gloves at the top of the tricky section, which visitors left at the base of the climb for those climbing back up.
The climb up and down is best if you don’t try to go up if someone is coming down, and vice versa. So if someone is ascending for example, it is best to wait until they pass you before attempting to descend.
If you are reasonably fit and not worried about heights, the climb down is definitely achievable, and the views from the base are very nice.
The base of Mooney Falls is also where the hike to Beaver Falls starts from, as well as the hike to the confluence of the Colorado River.
Hike to Beaver Falls
If you make it down to the base of Mooney Falls, then you might consider hiking to Beaver Falls as well.
It is slightly over 2 miles hike each way from the base of Mooney Falls to Beaver Falls, and you should allocate around 1.5 hours for the hike each way.
The hike is not particularly hard, but it does require you to cross the river three times. These river crossings are generally through water around two to four feet in depth. Obviously this hike is not advisable if the river is in any kind of flood condition.
The trail is quite easy to follow with the occasional signpost. It is hard to get lost as you are basically just following the river between two canyon walls. From time to time the path will split, giving an illusion of choice, but usually all the versions of it end up at the same place.
Beaver Falls are very different to the Mooney Falls and Havasu falls. The drop is much smaller, and they are more of a series of falls between swimming holes. It is very picturesque, and I definitely recommend doing this hike on one of the days you are there if you have the time and energy.
If you are visiting in summer, I highly advise doing this hike as early in the day as possible. There are long stretches of the hike that is unshaded, and as the day progresses it will get very hot. I started my hike at around 8am and was very glad I did so, as by the time I got back to the campsite it was already very hot.
You’ll also want to carry plenty of water for this hike, and consider bringing some snacks.
Hike to the Colorado River Confluence
If you are a really keen hiker, you can continue the hike on from Beaver Falls downstream all the way to where Havasu Creek flows into the Colorado River.
From Beaver Falls to the Colorado River confluence it’s around 4 miles each way, so you are looking at around 6 miles each way from Mooney Falls. After Beaver Falls you are also leaving Havasupai land.
This hike will likely take you all day if you choose to do it, and there are multiple times where you will have to cross the river. It is not recommended unless you are an experienced hiker, and you will either want to carry plenty of water and snacks, or bring some sort of water filter.
This hike is also not recommended in the summer months due to the heat. I visited in July so did not do this one.
Other Waterfalls at Havasu Falls
There are five waterfalls in Havasupai that are accessible from the campground and lodge. The three we’ve already mentioned are Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls.
The other two waterfalls are Fifty Foot Falls and Little Navajo Falls. These are found between Supai Village and Havasu Falls on the hike in.
These are actually very pretty falls as well, and they actually get very few visitors. Most campers take a couple of pictures as they head down to the campsite, and then only pass them again on their hike out. But there are swimming holes here as well, and they are the closest falls for those staying at the lodge. So don’t overlook these falls when you visit!
Swim in the River
So far all these options have likely seemed like quite a bit of effort. So here’s a much less stressful option – take a swim in Havasu Creek!
You can swim in the creek in a wide variety of locations, including as it passes through the campground and at the waterfalls. Just take care when swimming at the falls as there can be undertows and currents around the actual falls themselves. If you are visiting on your own, it is best to swim when others are present for safety. Children should of course be supervised at all times. There are no lifeguards at Havasu.
You also want to be careful not to swim in the creek directly above any waterfalls for obvious reasons as you don’t want to carried over them!
The water in Havasu Creek is a constant 70F year round. It is particularly refreshing in the hot summer months.
If you do swim, you will definitely want a good pair of water shoes as there can be rocks and other sharp outcrops which can be painful.
Also note that rock climbing, diving, nudity, and jumping are not permitted at the falls.
After hiking all the way in, setting up camp, exploring waterfalls and so on, you are likely going to be a bit tired. So don’t forget to relax!
You’ve likely got a few days to enjoy yourself at Havasupai, so definitely take plenty of time for relaxing. That could mean napping, laying in a hammock, reading a book, chatting with friends, or playing cards.
It’s also worth being aware that once darkness falls, it does get really dark here. Between the darkness, tiredness, and lack of activity, people usually go to bed pretty early. In my experience, the camp was pretty quiet when I was there from around 8pm, and I was usually in bed by 10pm, with the exception of when I did astrophotography.
Tips for Visiting Havasu Falls
Based on my experience visiting Havasu Falls, I wanted to share some quick tips to help you make the most of your trip.
Watch out for the squirrels!
If there is one major nuisance to be aware of when you visit Havasupai, it’s the squirrels.
These guys live at the campsite, and as far as I can tell, they survive entirely by carrying out sophisticated raids on the food supplies of unsuspecting campers.
The squirrels will eat through your tent, your backpack and any packaging in order to get to any food that they smell. When I rented my camping gear, I was warned about the squirrels, as they had had equipment returned that had suffered squirrel damage.
So what can you do about the squirrels? Well, the key is to put your food outside of your tent in something that the squirrels cannot get into.
A popular option is a Rat Bag – a steel mesh bag that the squirrels won’t be able to gnaw through. You may also consider sealing all your food inside resealable food storage bags in order to prevent odor escaping. You can then hang your rat bag from a line in a tree to stop the squirrels getting to it.
When I visited Havasupai, there were also lots of sealable plastic buckets available throughout the campsite. Most of the campsites also had string hanging from the trees. So I was able to just put my food in one of these sealable buckets and hang it from a tree. Another option is to leave it on the ground or picnic table with a heavy rock on top of it.
Obviously you can’t rely on these buckets being available, so a rat bag is a good option.
Basically, don’t keep or eat any food in your tent, and remove it from your bags on arrival, so the squirrels aren’t tempted to eat through your equipment!
In terms of other animals, obviously this is a large area of wilderness, which is home to mountain lion, coyote, snakes, spiders and so on. The campsite is a busy place, as is the trail, so larger animals are liable to give it a wide berth, but it is worth being aware that potentially life threatening animal encounters are possible.
Stay overnight nearby before your hike
I can highly recommend finding a nearby hotel such as the two I recommended earlier in Peach Springs to stay overnight before you hike in.
If you are driving from somewhere like Las Vegas or Phoenix, it’s around a 4 to 5 hour drive to the trailhead. Even if you left relatively early in the morning, you wouldn’t be able to start the hike until mid-morning.
In the cooler times of year this might not be too much of an issue, but in the summer you absolutely want to start the hike as early as possible. The best way to do that is to stay overnight as close to the trailhead as possible.
I have read reports of folks driving to the trailhead and staying overnight in their cars before hiking in. I personally wouldn’t do this as I’m not sure it would make for a good night’s sleep, and I don’t know if this is officially permitted or not.
Be Careful Driving to the Trailhead
The road out to the trailhead has a fairly low speed limit, and this is for good reason – there are massive elk and other animals all along this road. If you are driving in the early morning, they will be all over the place, including in the road.
You definitely want to be alert and very careful when driving on this road. I saw a lot of them as I drove it, and they were definitely of a size that would have ruined my car and ended my trip had I accidentally run into one of them!
Consider renting your camping gear
If you do not regularly hike and camp, or if you are visiting from out of state or country, you might want to consider renting your camping gear.
High quality camping equipment can be expensive, so if this is your first time doing this, renting will likely save you money. Of course, if you are planning on getting into hiking and camping, buying your own gear might be a better long term investment.
The other thing to consider is having to bring your gear from wherever you are travelling from. The price of checking luggage on airlines seems to be ever increasing.
Of course, if you have your own gear and equipment that you know and love, you will definitely want to bring this. I just wanted to share that renting is an option, and it worked really well for me.
Start the hike as early as possible
Hopefully I have made this point fairly well by now, but just to be clear, I very much recommend starting the hike as early as possible, especially in the summer months.
When I started my hike, the sun had not risen and my vehicle reported the outside temperature at 70F. This is a very comfortable temperature to hike in. By the time I arrived into the actual campsite, it was getting close to 100F.
Leaving early for both the hike in and hike out means you will be hiking when it is much cooler, and for the most part you will be hiking in the shade. Once the sun gets above the canyon walls, the temperatures noticeably increase!
Note that overnight hiking is not permitted, but early morning hiking is advised. When I visited I was told that the trail was open from 4am until 10pm, however, there is no official time posted. The official advice is to set off so you finish your hike by 10am, and to start early in the morning, but that night hiking is not permitted.
Take a water filter
There is no treated water available at the campground. The only water comes from a spring found in the center of the campground, and the tribe recommends that you filter this water.
I personally used a LifeStraw Go water filter bottle for my water filtration purposes. I even used it to drink the water from the creek itself which saved me carrying litres of water to and from Beaver Falls. We have guide to the best water filters for travel if you would like some options.
Take plenty of food
When planning your packing, make sure you bring enough food with you. The average person needs around 2,000 calories a day of food, and when you are hiking your needs will be higher.
So when planning your meals, a good idea is to figure out how many meals you’ll need (breakfast, lunch and dinner), and ensure that you are going to be getting your calorie needs met by looking at the calorie contents of the food you buy.
High calorie foods like nuts are a good option as they offer a good ratio of weight / calories.
Note that campfires are not permitted at the campground or anywhere along the trail. You are allowed to use gas canister powered camping equipment to prepare hot meals if you are willing to carry this in with you of course.
Food is also available in the village for purchase, as well as fry bread at the stalls, so you will always have options. This means that if you don’t want to carry all your food, you don’t have to.
However, the choice at the store can vary, and it can close, so if you bring your own food you will for sure know that you have enough.
Bring good hiking shoes
The Havasu Falls hike covers a variety of terrain, much of which is loose. A good pair of well fitting hiking boots that you know and trust will go a long way to improving your hiking experience.
You should also plan to bring enough socks for each day that you will be using your hiking boots. For me that was just hiking in and out, so two pairs, but if you plan on hiking during your time at Havasu you might want some more.
Bring water shoes
I entirely admit I made an error with my packing – I wore hiking boots, and just brought flip flops with me for my time camping.
This was definitely an error. If you want to swim or hike down to Beaver Falls, water shoes are going to make it a lot more comfortable than flip flops.
I’d say water shoes are essential for swimming especially as the ground in the falls can be sharp. You definitely don’t want to get cut out here.
I was lucky in the end because I found a pair of water shoes that someone had left behind that fit me. You can’t rely on this of course, so I really recommend getting a good pair of water shoes and bringing them with you.
If you don’t already have water shoes, I’d recommend buying a pair like this that is also suitable for light hiking as well.
Get Travel Insurance
I highly recommend you get travel insurance for your trip out to Havasupai. This is a remote part of the world, and if something should happen to you, travel insurance should cover the costs of any emergency medical assistance you require.
Travel insurance can also help protect you against the cost of having to cancel your trip for any reason – visiting Havasupai is not cheap, and a cancellation might end up being pricey.
There are a lot of travel insurance options on the market, depending on where you are travelling from. Just be sure to read the fine print and ensure you are covered for medical evacuation, as well as this sort of activity.
Map of Havasupai Trail and Sights
To help you with your planning, I’ve put together a map of the main trail and some of the sights, as well as the campground area. You can see this below, and on Google Maps here. There is also a trailmap on the official website here.
Photography Tips for Havasu Falls
One of the main reasons I was keen to visit Havasu Falls and Havasupai was for the photography opportunities. As a passionate professional photographer, I love taking photos, and this seemed like an amazing place to do just that.
Based on my experiences taking photos at Havasu, I wanted to share some quick tips to help you get great photos yourself when you visit. If you are looking for a good camera for this trip, see my guide to the best cameras for hiking and backpacking for some tips.
Bring a tripod
I appreciate that adding more gear to carry into Havasupai might not be awesome, but a tripod is going to let you get much more interesting photos, both in the daytime and at night.
It’s also a much more effective tool for taking photos of yourself than a selfie-stick!
Paired with a neutral density filter for your lens, a tripod will let you take those lovely long exposure shots of waterfalls that create that soft look. It will also let you take photos of the stars over the falls at night.
I personally used a carbon fibre VEO 2 tripod on this trip, which is a lightweight but sturdy tripod designed for travel. We have more tripod recommendations in our guide to why you need a travel tripod.
Time the sun
The beautiful blue-green water and red canyon walls at Havasupai look their best when the sun is shining on them and making the colours really pop.
However, the canyon walls are pretty steep, and so there are only a few hours each day when the sun is actually shining on the falls. When I visited in July, this was during the middle of the day, when the sun was pretty much overhead.
Earlier and later in the day, the sun was either behind the falls, or had dipped below the canyon walls and creating shadows.
Obviously the angle of the sun and its position in the sky will vary at different times of year. I recommend checking the Photographer Ephemeris website here for the time of year you are visiting to see where the sun will be.
Visit the Falls early or late
During the day both Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls will be quite busy with people swimming and enjoying themselves.
If you want to get photos without people, your best bet is to come early in the morning or later in evening. I visited Havasu Falls at sunrise and was the only person here. After sunrise I hiked down to Mooney Falls, and was the only person there as well.
So it is certainly possible to get the falls to yourself, even when the campground and lodge are fully booked.
Just be aware that night hiking is not permitted, so don’t wander too far from the campground late at night!
Don’t miss the astrophotography opportunities
Being in the middle of the desert far away from any sources of light pollution means that there are incredible star gazing opportunities at Havasupai.
This only means that there’s the opportunity to take some great photos at night. When I visited in July, the milky was was rising in the early evening, which added even more stars to my photos.
If you do do astrophotography, my recommendation would be to shoot Havasu Falls. I’d advise against tackling the Mooney Falls climb at night for safety reasons!
For Havasu Falls, I had good results by using my headlight to illuminate the falls a little bit, just a few seconds during a 30 second or so exposure. This is a technique known as light painting.
For more on astrophotography, including camera settings and different techniques, see my complete guide to taking pictures of stars.
Bring spare batteries and memory cards
If you are camping, you aren’t going to have access to any power outlets during your time at Havasupai. So you will want to bring plenty of spare batteries for your camera, as well as enough memory cards to handle all the photos you are taking.
Another option is to invest in a USB power bank like this, which you can use to charge your phone. I also bought a charger for my camera batteries that runs off USB, and these are available for most camera manufacturers.
That meant I could use my USB power bank to top off my phone and my camera batteries.
Consider your clothing
If you plan on putting yourself into the photos, then I can recommend considering bringing along some brightly coloured clothing so that you stand out in the images.
Bright reds, yellow or blues would be good options, but really, any brightly coloured clothes will help you pop in the image against the bright colours at Havasu.
What to Pack for the Havasu Falls Hike
I’ve written a comprehensive guide to what to pack for Havasu Falls, but here’s a quick overview of what you should bring to get you started.
- Backpack – A 40 – 55L should work for most hikers
- Sleeping mat (I prefer a thermarest)
- Head torch or flashlight
- Water Filter and Water Bladder / Bottle
- Day pack – great for the day hikes
- Hiking poles – these will make the hike easier
- Sun hat
- Sunglasses (optional)
- Travel towel
- Hiking boots (see our guides to the best travel shoes for men and the best travel shoes for women for tips on picking a great pair)
- Water shoes
- Hiking socks
- Clothing (will depend on time of year)
- Swimsuit / swimming gear
- Toothbrush / Toiletries / Hygiene items
- Rat Sack
- Camera + camera batteries
- USB power bank and cables
- Sealable food storage bags or containers
- Toilet paper or tissues (just in case they run out for some reason!)
- Travel Wipes
- Sealable bags to pack your trash out in
- First Aid kit
Obviously, your needs will vary, but I would say that above list would make for a great starting point for any visit to Havasu Falls. It’s also worth being aware of what isn’t allowed, which includes amplified music, alcohol and so on. You can see the official rules here.
Further Reading for Havasupai
Well, that sums up what you hopefully found to be a thoroughly comprehensive guide to the Havasu Falls Hike! Before you go, I want to share some useful resources for you to help you plan your trip.
- I’ve written a detailed guide to what to pack for Havasu Falls to help you plan your packing list
- The official Havasupai Tribe website
- The official website for Havasupai Campground reservations
- The official Havasupai and Havasu Falls Facebook group. There are a range of subgroups as well, where you can talk about your trip, get tips from other visits, ask questions and more.
- The National Parks Service website about Havasupai
- Havasu Falls is within the Grand Canyon – do check out our guide to sunset and sunrise at the Grand Canyon for some photography tips
- When you drive to the trailhead, you’ll be on Route 66. If you want to turn your adventure into an awesome road trip, see our 1 week and 2 week Route 66 itineraries for inspiration, as well as our guide to planning a Route 66 road trip
- If you are new to travel in the USA, see our tips for driving in the USA and our guide to how much it costs to travel in the USA for some tips
- We also have lots more USA content – see our USA guides on this blog here, and on Independent Travel Cats here.
- If you’re starting or ending your Havasu Falls hiking trip in Las Vegas, see our guide to things to do in Las Vegas for some ideas on spending time in the party city. We also have a guide to the best day trips from Las Vegas.
- If you would like a book, Exploring Havasupai is your best option. It has information on the area, tips on the hike in, what to bring, as well as detailed information on the hikes from the campground.
And that’s it for our guide to the Havasu Falls hike. We hope you found it useful in planning your trip.
If you have any feedback about the above, or questions that we’ve not answered, please let us know in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.