Ah yes, Havasupai, one of my favorite places. It can be very difficult to get permits, but I’ve been lucky enough to get them twice in the last 2 years. So while difficult, it’s not impossible! Both times I’ve camped with friends. No helicopter, no mules, no tour guide. I definitely feel pretty lucky to have gone here multiple times, and I think Havasupai is a magical place everyone should experience at least once. That’s why I’m writing this blog. This ‘guide’ to Havasupai is meant to help you get the most out of your Supai experience, and hopefully help get you there! Enjoy and thanks for reading.
Step 1: Getting a Reservation
In the past, getting a reservation for both the Havasupai campground and resort, was only doable over phone. On February 1st of every year, the phone lines for the tourist office would open, and callers would get nothing but busy signals. Well, I’m happy to report that as of February 2nd, 2017, you can now book reservations online. I highly recommend booking on the site versus calling, and here’s why. There are 3 phone lines you can call to reach the tourist office (here's one line: 928-448-2121). Thousands of people from around the world will be calling these lines. You have better chances winning concert tickets from a radio station contest. This year they also updated the price. Reservations are $85 per person for one night and $25 per each additional night. Please note that these prices are from 2017, so they are subject to change!
If you need to make phone reservations, wait a few months for traffic to die down before calling. Yes, a few months. That way you can see if there are any cancellations, which is how I was able to score reservations the first time around. Anyways, long story short, give online a try!
Step 2: Deciding When to Go
Okay well, first off, I honestly don’t know if a lot of you know anything about Arizona weather, but our summers are 100+ degrees. So please do yourself a favor, and shoot for early spring reservations. A lot of people like going to Havasupai in late winter, i.e. February/ March. The water will probably be ice cold, but it usually is either way, and you’re more likely to have the whole place to yourself, plus or minus a few hikers. I went in June during my first trip, and the campground was packed. There were a ton of tour guides with at least 15 to 20 campers in their site. Keep in mind that sites are first come first serve, so more people means less options. If you’re looking for some seclusion and cool temps, shoot for the very beginning or the end of Supai season.
Step 3: What to Pack
Pack light. Please. Save yourself some shoulder pain from an overly heavy load. You can actually read my previous blog post on what exactly I brought with me on my latest trip there. Shout out to TETON Sports for hooking me and Hanna up with Summit1500’s for the trip (read the review here)! Also, no need to pack extra water for your stay; there’s a fresh water spring at the bottom for you to fill up your hydration packs and bottles!
Step 4: Getting There
If you live in Central Phoenix, the drive to Hilltop (the parking lot at the trailhead) can be about 3 hours. You can easily Google its location. So plan your drive accordingly. If you can, I recommend driving to Hilltop in the evening and napping in your car, that way you can wake up bright at early to start your hike. You’ll also get to do some awesome star gazing! Most importantly, you’ll be able to avoid the high temperatures. On top of this, the earlier you hike, the better the campground you’ll be able to find.
Step 5: The Hike
You’ll hike a total of 10 miles one way. 7 to the giant Supai sign. From the sign, it’s 1 mile to the Supai town, and from the town, it’s 2 miles to the campground. The hike down is pretty easy. You’re surrounded by canyon walls the whole time. The only difficult part about the hike is walking in gravel for a majority of time, then walking in sand one you get to Supai. One cool thing some people don’t know about is what I’ll call the ‘check-in’ system. So a little more than halfway through the hike there is a giant bolder with a few hundred little holes in it. This is the check-in rock. You grab a pebble from the ground and place it in a hole on your way in. On the way out of the canyon, you take your pebble from the hole. This obviously isn’t a necessary check-in, check-out system, but it’s a pretty cool hiker tradition! Trust me, you’ll know the rock when you see it.
Step 6: The Water Falls
I could write a separate blog about the waterfalls! Actually, Hanna did in one of hers. So let’s start with Little Navajo and New Navajo. These are the first couple of falls you see on your way to the campground. I highly recommend going to these! Not a lot of hikers do because once they’re at the campground they don’t want to take a 4 mile hike back. My suggestion, just do the hike! The currents in the Grand Canyon are always changing! These waterfalls might not be here 2 years from now. You’re already down there, so just see them while you can.
Havasupai Falls- This is the waterfall you see people looking off in the distance to with their packs still on. It’s the next waterfall you’ll see on your way to the campground. Because of its proximity to camp, this waterfall can get pretty packed. I suggest seeing it early in the morning. The sun gets very intense here and will usually wash out detail from pictures you take. So if you want to get some good photos in, go early! It’s also like half a mile from the campground, so no reason not to.
Mooney Falls- This is about a mile down from the campground. You walk all the way to the end of the sites to get to the trailhead. Be warned, though; the trail can be a little intense. You start by going through tight tunnels, then you climb down a series of ladders. The mist from Mooney soaks the ladders, making them somewhat slippery, so be careful! I don’t recommend hold trekking poles in your hands if you have them. You really do have to climb at least 5 different ladders, and the poles will slow you down. Not to mention, this is really a single lane path, so if you’re on your way down, typically people looking to go back up will wait for you to get to the bottom before starting their climb. No one wants to wait there forever! Expect to get a little muddy here too from the mist hitting the dirt.
Beaver Falls- To get here, try following someone that has been there before if you can. The trail can be difficult to navigate and includes a series of twists and turns. You start by hiking down Mooney Falls, then go left along the creek where you’ll follow a faint trail. From there, you continue following the creek through a series of river crossings. You approach some bridges, and some of them will literally lead to nowhere (no kidding, some lead to a dead end), but the correct ones aren’t that hard to find. When you’re closure to the falls, you’ll have additional ladders to climb. The hike ends up being about 4 miles round trip. Like the other falls, go early to avoid crowds and heat!
Well peeps, thanks for reading! I hope this guide helps you conquer your first trip, or your next trip to Havasupai. While you’re at it, join a community of badass chicas! Become a member of Mountains Chicks and you’ll get these sorts of blogs sent straight to your inbox. We’ll even send you a membership patch!
Author - Dani The Explorer