Ah yes, Havasupai, one of my favorite places. It can be tough to get Havasupai reservations, but I’ve been lucky enough to get them twice in the last two years. So while challenging, it’s not impossible! Both times I’ve camped with friends. No helicopter, no mules, no tour guide. I 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 getting a Havasupai reservation is meant to help you get the most out of your Supai experience, and hopefully help get you there!
Getting a Reservation
In the past, getting a Havasupai reservation for the campground and resort was only doable over the 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 here. I highly recommend booking on the site versus calling, and here’s why. There are three 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 of 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 do not score a permit right away, wait a few months. 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!
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 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 to come first serve. More people in the campground means fewer options for campsites. If you’re looking for some seclusion and cold temps, shoot for the very beginning or the end of Supai season.
What to Pack
You have your Havasupai reservation, but what do you pack? Save yourself some shoulder pain from an overly heavy load. You can read my previous blog post on what exactly I brought with me on my latest trip there. Also, there is no need to pack extra water for your stay. There’s a freshwater spring at the bottom for you to fill up your hydration packs and bottles!
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 journey 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 excellent 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.
Now that you have your Havasupai reservation, it's time to get there! 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 Supai, it’s 2 miles to the campground. The hike down is pretty straightforward. You’re surrounded by canyon walls the whole time. The only tricky part about the hike is walking in gravel for a majority of the 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 boulder with a few hundred little holes in it. The rock is a "check-in" rock. You grab a pebble from the ground and place it in a hole on your way into the campground. On the way out of the canyon, you take your rock from the hole. The stone isn’t a mandatory check-in, check-out system, but it’s a pretty cool hiker tradition! Trust me; you’ll know the rock when you see it.
I could write a separate blog about the waterfalls you can see once you get your Havasupai reservation! 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 campsite, they don’t want to take a 4-mile hike back. My suggestion, do the walk! The currents in the Grand Canyon are always changing! These waterfalls might not be here two years from now. You’re already down there, so see them while you can.
Havasupai Falls is the next waterfall you’ll see on your way to the campground and one of the reasons why people hop to get a Havasupai reservation. 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 the 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 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 do have to climb at least five different ladders, and the poles will slow you down. Not to mention, this is 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 remain there forever! Expect to get a little muddy here too from the mist hitting the dirt.
To get here, try following someone that has been there before if you can. The trail can be challenging 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 stream through a series of river crossings. You approach some bridges, and some of them will 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!
Are you hoping to get a Havasupai reservation this year? Let us know in the comments!
Author - Dani The Explorer