Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon is one of the most breathtaking places to visit in the world, but without proper preparation, it can be a grueling journey. In this post we will cover everything you will need to pack, and guide you through the various hikes and falls.
Packing for Havasupai Falls
Regardless of the length of your stay in Havasupai Falls, you will want to keep your backpack as light as possible. Hiking 10 miles in the heat with a 40 pound backpack is not fun, I learned this the hard way. While you are packing your bag, be conscious of how much weight each item is adding to your pack. I would recommend trying to keep your pack under 35 pounds.
- Lightweight Tent / Hammock
- Light Sleeping Bag
- Hydration Bladder (at least 2 liters)
- Flashlight / LED Lantern
- MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) / Top Ramen
- Lightweight Cookware
- Lightweight Backpacking Stove w/ Propane
- First Aid Kit
- Hiking Shoes
- Hiking Socks
- Aqua Shoes / Old-Pair of shoes
- Sun Screen
Backpack – You are going to need a legitimate backpack, a simple Jansport won’t cut it. I would recommend at least a 50 liter pack. You can find some of the lower end packs for around $50 – $75, but you’ll be better off investing in a quality bag that you can use long after you leave Havasupai. Osprey makes some of the best backpacks in the market. I own the Osprey Atmos 65, and it was perfect for the trip. You can also rent backpacks at several stores (like REI) for around $20 a day.
Lightweight Tent / Hammock – While you can do without a tent or hammock, you will want to bring one. It can get pretty windy in the canyon, and combined with the dust, can make for an unpleasant experience. Most lightweight backpacking tents will run you north of $200. A $20 Walmart tent will do, but at the cost of adding several pounds to your pack. I went with the The North Face Kings Canyon 3 Tent. The tent is lightweight, has good ventilation, and provides excellent coverage against the dust and any inclement weather.
Sleeping Bag – This is one of the items I neglected on my trip, and my girlfriend and I quickly discovered that it can get pretty chilly at night during the spring and fall months. We had brought a light blanket, but I would recommend bringing a light sleeping bag. Again, the lighter the weight the better. A sleeping bag like the Marmot NanoWave 55 will keep you sufficiently warm for the chilly Havasupai nights.
Hydration Bladder – This is the single most important item to have on your trip! You will be hiking over 8 miles in the heat without a water station, so having at least a 2 liter hydration bladder is a must! An antimicrobial bladder by Camelbak or Osprey with a 2-3 liter capacity should do the trick.
Stove/Fuel – Nothing beats a hot meal after a long time of hiking. Having a lightweight, easy-to-use stove to boil water and cook food is the way to go. My friends brought both the MSR Pocket Rocket and the Jetboil Cooking System. Both were great for boiling water to use for MREs, Top-Ramen, instant coffee, and cooking eggs. Remember to get the proper fuel tank for your stove, as most backpacking stoves aren’t compatible with the traditional Coleman propane tanks.
MREs – Meals ready to eat are a great way to have a hearty meals without adding a ton of weight to your backpack. We went with the Mountain House brand and they were great. All you need to add is boiling water, and you have beef stroganoff, lasagna with meat sauce, or beef stew (my groups’ unanimous favorite). The package says 2 – 3 servings per pack, but one hungry man can easily wolf down one on his own. Top Ramen is also a quick, easy meal to bring to Havasupai.
Cookware / Utensils – What good is bringing supplies for hot meals if you don’t have anything to cook it in? Bring some lightweight cookware to boil your water in and prepare your hot meals. I went with the Emergency Zone Lightweight Mess Kit and it was great for the trip. I would recommend picking up some reusable utensils as well.
First Aid Kit – It is always a good idea to carry a first aid kit. Bands-aids, blister bandages, alcohol wipes, and an ace bandage should all be included in your pack.
Flashlight / LED Lantern – At night it is pitch black, which is great for enjoying the stars, but not for wandering to the campground bathrooms. You will want to bring a flashlight, LED lantern, or headlamp, as well as a spare set of batteries.
Hiking Shoes / Hiking Socks / Water Shoes – The hike to the campground is nearly 11 miles from start to finish, you will want to make sure you have quality hiking shoes that are broken in. I made the mistake of having wearing shoes that I wore 2-3 times (not hiking) and I ended up with huge blisters on the balls of my feet. Hiking socks are important to wick away moisture to help prevent blisters from forming. Bringing a pair of water shoes allows you to hike through the water without injuring your feet on the jagged and slippery rocks. Bringing these shoes allows your to hike through the water on the trek to Beaver falls, which makes the hike much more enjoyable. The Speedo Men’s Surfwalker Pro 3 worked perfectly for my trip. I would avoid Mary-Jane style water shoes, the opening on the top allows for small rocks to get into your shoes.
Sunscreen – Once the sun rises over the canyon, you are going to want to make sure you put on some sunscreen. Work on that farmers tan, but make sure you have some SPF 30+ on.
Hiking Havasupai Falls
The 10-mile hike from Hualapai Hilltop to the campgrounds is moderately difficult. Our whole party was exhausted by the time we reached the campgrounds. Plan on hiking for 4-7 hours each way. The trail is dry and hot, so bring at least 2 liters of clean drinking water, there is no water for the 8 miles until you reach the village of Supai. The trailhead begins with 1 mile of switchbacks, where you will descend 2000 feet into the canyon. Make sure to pay attention to for the mules that the Havasupai Natives use to carry supplies to and from the camp (as well as your bag on the hike back. You can reserve them at the campground). You will want to stay on the side of the trail to avoid getting trampled by the animals. Be sure to keep an eye out for wild horses and other creatures, we even spotted a rattle snake, so be attentive!
You continue on the trail for another 7 miles before you reach Supai. The first 3 miles of this trek offers very little shelter from the sun. Eventually, you will reach the of Hualapai Canyon at the junction of Havasu Canyon. You will see the beautiful, blue flowing river. Once you reach the river, you only have 1.5 miles until you reach the village.
Once you reach Supai, you will need to check in at the tourist office. Make sure you have obtained your permit and made your reservation in advance. There is also a great convenience store that is stocked with chips, jerky, frozen gatorades, water, and other snacks. This a great place to recharge for the last 2 miles of the trek to the campgrounds. There is also a diner, grocery store, and more in the town, so take a moment to explore.
After leaving the village, you will continue descending down for another 1.5 miles, and you will reach the breathtaking Havasu Falls. The stunning waterfall plunges about 100 feet into a beautiful turquoise pool. Havasu Falls is reason enough to make the journey from the hilltop.
You will continue past Havasu falls for another .5 miles to reach the campground. Once you enter the campground, there will be a faucet for fresh spring water on the west side of the canyon. It is considered safe to drink, and our party had no issues with the water. A friend brought a 5 Gallon Collapsible Water Carrier and it was great to have at the campsite. Having the 5 gallon jug eliminated the need to visit the spring every time you ran out of water in your bladder, and was great for meal times when everyone needed water for their meals.
As I mentioned, Havasu Falls is just .5 miles away from the campgrounds. We enjoyed spending a day there swimming in the pools and
exploring the surrounding area. The falls drop over 100 feet into the pool below. It also cascades into another pool that is great for swimming and small cliff jumping. A few of my rock climbing friends enjoyed climbing the mossy wall next to the falls and jumping off that as well.
You may have read online that the falls have changed due to floods in 2009. While Havasu Fall might not be as powerful as it once was, it is still a wondrous sight. Don’t be discouraged by people saying it has changed since the floods of 2009.
Mooney Falls is the largest of the Havasupai waterfalls, plunging over 190 feet into the stunning blue pool below. While it is only a .5 mile hike from the campgrounds, it is no walk in the park! Descending to Mooney Falls requires you to enter a small tunnel, followed by chains, ladders, and metal handles that allow you descend the cliff. Exercise caution and take your time descending down the cliff.
Once you reach the base of the canyon, you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the falls. This is a great place to spend a day picnicking and hanging out. While the Havasupai Falls website suggests not cliff jumping, we were able to find a few places downriver where you were able to. Definitely test the depth of the waters you want to jump into before you jump, a lot of the pools look much deeper than they actually are.
From Mooney Falls, continue down the trail for 3 miles or so and you will reach Beaver Falls. This hike is much more enjoyable if you have brought water shoes. You will get wet on this trail, and with water shoes you can spend a good portion of the trek hiking through the river. The trail can be difficult to spot, just continue downstream and you will be fine. Along the hike you will see the Havasupai Vine Desert. The vines cover the whole length of the canyon and are a great photo opportunity. You will soon reach a point where you can climb up a ladder to continue the hike, or cross across the river. You will want to cross the river. If you take the ladder, you will have to hike around the whole base of Beaver Falls to get to the swimming pools. Beaver Falls’ pools are a great place to go for a swim and do some cliff jumping.
Guided Tours to Havasupai Fall
If you’re interested in making the most of your vacation and letting someone else worry about the logistics of camping, cooking, packing gear, getting reservations, booking pack mules, and arranging transportation, then I recommend joining a guided tour. A tour is also great for people who don’t have a lot of hiking and camping experience or equipment; people want to learn about the natural and cultural history of the Grand Canyon; and people who want to maximize their safety on the trip. I recommend the Wildland Trekking Company – they run a variety of 3-day and 4-day tours. You can also give them a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453).
Please note: The Havasupai Tribe does not allow one-day tours, so Wildland Trekking runs a minimum 3-day tour; also they are not authorized to give out general information about Havasu Falls, so please only contact them if you’re interested in a guided tour.
Hulapai Hilltop to Campgrounds – 10 Miles
Hulalap Hilltop to Supai – 8 Miles
Supai to Campground – 2 Miles
Campground to Mooney Falls – 0.5 Miles
Mooney Falls To Colorado River – 8 Miles
Prices and Camping Fees
- $35.00 per person – Entrance Permit
- $17.00 per person / per night – Campground Fee –
- $5.00 per person – Environmental Care Fee
- $145.00 per night – Up to 4 people
- $40.00 deposit per room / per night
- $35.00 per person – Entrance Fee Permit
- $187 – Round Trip on Horseback *
- $93.50 – One way trip to or from camp *
- $85.00 per person – Helicopter Service / one way
*Arrangements must be made in advance through the office
Be sure to visit the Official Havasupai Website for full details
Information & Resources
I hope you found this guide helpful and helps you create a memorable Havasupai Falls experience. There are other great guides out there, many of which I read in preparation for my trip. Below are a few that I found helpful.
http://www.havasupai-nsn.gov/ – Official Havasupai Falls website.
http://www.wildlandtrekking.com/havasu-falls/havasupai-tours.html – Best Havasupai Falls tour guides
http://www.wildbackpacker.com/backpacking-trails/havasupai-trail/ – Great overview of the trails of Havasupai
http://www.trailsherpa.com/blog/2010/08/23/havasu-falls-backpacking-gear-list/ – Pack list that I used to prepare for my trip.
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