For years I had wanted to hike the Havasupai Trail to Supai village and the many wonderful water falls. I finally got a chance and the experience was better than I hoped for. It’s definitely worth the hike and more beautiful than other parts of the Grand Canyon I’ve experienced.
The trail begins at the Hualapai Hilltop which is located in Arizona (bordering the Grand Canyon) at the end of BIA Road 18. BIA is the Bureau of Indian Affairs and yes, the Havasupai Trail is on tribal lands. With this in mind, be respectful of the tribal people who run the operations and live in the village. At Hualapi Hilltop you must check in. Reservations must be made months ahead of time so don’t just show up at the top of the trail and hope you will be allowed to hike the trail. At the trail head, pack mules are available for rent to help with carrying camping equipment to the campsite. My husband worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him and all of the teenage boys on our trip (he was right) and insisted on renting mules to carry much of our gear. I have to admit, it made the trip much easier and quite pleasant. The only thing that bothered me about renting a mule is that many of them looked as if they weren’t well taken care with visible sores and not well fed.
The Havasupa trail is rated moderate. The first mile and a half of the trail consists of a
steep switchback and considered the hardest part of the trail on the return. I had no trouble navigating this part of the trail. It is wide and well kept.
The bottom of the trail is easier but gets rocky and uneven. The uneven surface can be hard on the feet, making them prone to blisters. A good pair of broken in hiking shoes, a pair of breathable socks (no cotton), and moleskin will help prevent blisters.
The Supai Village, home of the Havasupai Tribe, is eight miles into the hike. Here it’s like taking two steps back in time and one step into the future. The dirt roads are void of cars. The main source of transportation for the villagers are mules and horses. There is a helicopter that brings in supplies and ferries tourists. The teenagers walk the streets with headphones and internet and phone service is available. All campers must check in here at the tourist office before continuing to the campground. The Supai Lodge is located in the village but reservations must be made ahead of time. It is a “no frills” lodge so don’t expect luxury.
Another two miles from the village is the campground. Most sites sit along the stream. There are outhouses and potable water for services. Everything else must be packed in. We brought dehydrated dinners that merely required boiling water for preparation. They were quite good and light to carry. Some in our group set up tents, but I slept in a hammock as did my son and husband, and found it to be quite comfortable.
It takes a good part of the day to reach the campground. The guys reached it a little over an hour ahead me and the other gal I hiked with. We hiked in the fall so it wasn’t too hot. However, during the summer, I would advise bringing extra drinking water as the temperatures get high.
Navajo Falls is the first set of falls about a mile and half after leaving the village, on the left side of the trail.
Havasu Falls is a quarter of a mile from Navajo Falls. At nice pool for soaking tired feet lies at the bottom of the falls. It’s fun to shimmy along the rock into the space behind the falls.
The clear blue water with the stunning red rock background make this one of the most photographed waterfalls in the world. This is what hiking Havasupai is all about.
After spending the night in the campground, we continued on to the lower falls which is past the campground. The hike to Mooney Falls can get your heart racing. It is a steep decline, through a small tunnel and down an unstable ladder. I took it slow and easy, though I was shaking by the time I got to the bottom. This part of the hike is not for the faint of heart.
|Last ladder at the bottom of Mooney Falls|
It was scarier going down than it was going up. However, it is well worth the hike. The rocks get slippery toward the bottom from the mist of the waterfall so best to take your time and climb down the ladder backward, using both hands to hang on.
At the bottom of the ladder is the Mother of the Falls, Mooney Falls. Twice as high as Havasu Falls, this waterfall is truly spectacular. A large clear blue pool sits at the bottom of the falls.
Get in the adventurous spirit if you want to see the last set of falls. The trail to the left of Havasu Creek is harder to follow at times. Smaller waterfalls and pools along the way make for a scenic hike. At Beaver Falls, you will have to jump down the falls to finish the three mile hike which ends at the Colorado River. A rope swing at the bottom pool make for a great place to play before heading back to the campground. Total round trip from the campground is about six miles.
Pricing and Reservations
Pricing is subject to change. There is a $35.00 entrance fee per person.
Campground fee: $17.00 per person per night.
Environmental Fee: $5.00 per person
Reservations must be made by phone: 1-928-448-2121, 1-928-448-2141, 1-928-448-2174, or 1-928-448-2180
Office hours: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Lodge Reservations: 1-928-448-2111 or 1-928-448-2201
If you don’t want to be hassled with making your own reservations, there are adventure tours that can do it for you. HERE
For experienced backpackers and hikers, the Havasupai hiking trip will be glorious. For those who like to be pampered, a helicopter ride in or a all inclusive tour might be a better way to see Havasupai.
For me, Havasupai was a five star adventure.
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