Backpacking Havasupai

I always loved spending time outdoors & hiking. Growing up I was in Girl Scouts and spent most of my summer breaks at camp. I loved it. Turns out, not much has changed. I am still a sucker for a good hike or outdoor adventure! So naturally, when I first saw photos of Havasupai I was dying to go! Thus began the planning process of my first backpacking trip!

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First things first,

 What is Havasupai?

I like to start planning by figuring out what am I getting myself into. This was my first time backpacking so most of my research & questions were what to pack & how hard it would be. Since I was going with several people who had been to Havasupai before, I did not research much more. I believe it is a trip best suited for backpackers, but they do have several options for those who are less active & still want to experience the beauty Havasupai has to offer.

Havasupai means “The people of the blue green waters.” I could not believe how blue the water really was.  The water is so vibrant due to being underground in limestone caverns for as much as 30,000 years! Calcium & magnesium minerals from the limestone saturate the water & reflect sunlight creating the beautiful aquamarine color!

I was also surprised by was how large Supai Village was & how modernized parts of it have become.

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Making A Reservation at Havasupai

Havasupai is getting increasingly popular each year. Reservations are EXTREMELY hard to get & quite the time consuming process. Best way to go about making a reservation is to call the Havasupai Tourist Office! They may not pick up, or you may be on hold for a while, but stick with it! This place is worth it.

Contact Info:

Although I heard if you do not have a reservation they make you pay double, friends of mine have also seen people get turned away (after their 8+ mile hike to the village). So I would not risk it. Luckily for me, a friend got reservations & I was able to tag along.

The Cost: 

They give tourists a few options. You can camp, or stay in a lodge. My total for two nights camping came to $81.00.

Camping Costs:

  • Camping permit: $17/person, per night
  • Environmental fee: $5.00/person
  • Entrance fee: $35/person

Lodge Costs:

  • Up to 4 people/room: $145/night
  • Deposit: $40/room/night
  • Entrance fee: $35/person

*Subject to 10% tax

There were people ridding horses down, or who had given their packs to horses so they did not have to carry them. Roumor has it that the horses are mistreated and you should not to do this. But on my way up I started talking to some of the people coming down & they were Veterinarians. They said they go to work with the animals each year, and they let the horses take their bags; so do what is right for you I guess. As long as this hike sounds, it was pretty easy to do with a pack.

You can also travel by Helicopter. Other hikers said it was only $80.00 for a ride out, or $20.00 for your pack to be flown out. Just know, it is offered on a first come first serve basis, and the wait is around 5 hours.

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The Hike:

It’s is best to start the hike early! Our group of 18 began hiking at 7:00am. In the winter, there is very little day light. So you need to get an early start or you will be setting up camp in the dark. During the summer it is extremely hot.

Check out my Arizona Roadtrip post for more info about what My boyfriend Steve & I did before & after the hike!

You park your car at Hualapai Hilltop.

The address is:

Havasupai Campground Parking Lot Hilltop Supai, AZ 86435

Hualupai trail starts on top of a canyon. The first mile you descend down some switchbacks, then (according to my fit bit) it’s about 9 more pretty flat miles till you get to the Village. Although, I was told it is only 8. Maybe I take small steps.

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The trail is mainly soft sand and rocks. Some people in our group only had running shoes (one guy came last minute & only brought converse!) but I would recommend investing in some good hiking shoes. Your feet will thank you! Kicking rocks for 10 miles is no fun!

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Walking through the Wash Basin.

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Along the way there are a few trail markers. One of the natives said that the bear rock marks 3 miles to the village. There was also a rock that people put smaller stones on for good luck!

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Bear Rock, Only 3 more miles to the village!

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Place a stone on the rock for luck!

Once you get to the village, you check in. Surprisingly there was cell phone service here. Everyone kept saying “village” so I had no idea what to expect. Turns out it was pretty much just like it sounded, a small little town that looked like it belonged in an old western movie. Expect with a few Helicopter pads in the middle! To my surprise, the village had a general store, elementary school, church, or lodge for tourists.

 After you check in, you continue for another 2 miles down to the campgrounds. On your way down, you will pass several waterfalls. New Navajo Falls is easy to miss, about .5 miles from the village you take a path to the left to get there. You can see Fifty Foot Falls from the main path or take another trail going left to where you will be able to swim in the water. Havaus Falls will be the largest & last waterfall on the way to the campsites. From that point, it is not much farther till you can take your pack off & start setting up camp!

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Falls on the way to the campground!
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Havasu Falls

The campgrounds have a place to fill up water, several restrooms with composting toilets, & a place to get fry bread (the honey & sugar is a must)!

You can camp next to the water or canyon. We set up camp on the canyon side since we went in winter & did not want any extra condensation making us cold. We also hung our packs & food from the trees to keep them away from critters, but I never saw any.

I did find the path through the camping area to be a little confusing at night so I suggest bringing some glow sticks to mark where you are at.

The next day we continued hiking down stream.

At the end of the campground (about .5 miles) is the top of Mooney Falls. You can climb down the canyon to get to the bottom of the falls.

This was the most nerve-racking part of trip. Getting to the bottom is very steep, at some points you go though the canyon, & towards the bottom you use ladders and chain link “ropes”. The spray from the waterfall also makes this area very wet.

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Mooney Falls!
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People climbing down to Mooney Falls!
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The path to Mooney Falls through the canyon!
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A welcoming sign along the path!
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Ladders on the path down to Mooney Falls!

Once you are at the bottom you can continue 4 miles to Beaver Falls or 8 miles to Havasu Rapids at the Colorado River. I made it to Beaver Falls & it was one of the most fun hikes I have explored. Unfortunately, I was not able to make it the Colorado River. Maybe next trip, and after some training!

Along the way you cross the water several times. So be sure to dress accordingly. I did not & ended up doing the hike in bikini bottoms & flip flops. Water shoes or sturdy outdoor sandals would be the best foot wear choice. You will also want a day pack with water, snacks, flashlight, & a jacket.

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Starting the hike down to Beaver Falls!

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When you get to this point you can either cross or continue down the right side taking some ladders & bridges. This way you don’t have to go in the water as many times.

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When you see the log across the water, stay to the right to get to the bridges!
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A little “bridge” to cross the water!
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Another bridge to cross the water!

My favorite part of the hike to Beaver Falls was going though the Valley of Ivy or Valley of Vines. Since we went at the end of Fall, the leaves were all changing color & dying. It was pretty spectacular!

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Hiking through the Valley of Ivy!
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The Valley of Ivy!
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On the path in the Valley of Ivy!

We came across the same two Rams on the way there & back! There are also a lot of picnic tables along the way if you feel like stopping. The tables were put in the most picturesque places. Although this whole place is so beautiful.

The last bit of the trail to Beaver Falls has some ladders & pretty rocky spots. I had some slips in my not so appropriate flip flops. But I learned our lesson. I was also told there is an underwater cave behind the face of the waterfall you can swim into but the temperature was a little to cold for me to do that much exploring.

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Entering Beaver Falls!
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The top of Beaver Falls
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Beaver Falls!

On the way back to the campsite we missed where the trail led to the ladders & bridges. But we made it back just before dark & ended up on the opposite side we started. So there are multiple paths between Mooney & Beaver Falls.

The next day we hiked back up. My fit bit had us at 46 miles for the three days and we were feeling it. The hike up wasnt to difficult but my body wasnt used to to that much exercise. Going up the last mile of switchbacks took almost an hour. My knee felt like it was going to give out but I felt so acomplished & I can not wait to do it again!

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The last photo I took before going up the switchbacks to Hualapai Hilltop!

What To Pack

Being prepared & efficient is so important when backpacking. But you can’t forget proper hydration. Water will be the heaviest thing your bring, but make sure you have about 3 liters to hike to & from the hilltop. Also keep in mind, you must pack out trash!

The hardest thing for me was packing light. You may think you want those 3 long sleeve shirts, but they are not necessary. Trust me, I brought them anyway & they went unused.

 These are a few of my backpacking essentials!

Here you can download my complete revised Packing List (live & learn)!

Another lesson I learned the hard way was to make sure your sleeping bag fits into your pack. My sleeping bag filled my pack to the point where I couldn’t fit any water inside. Word to the wise, test it out at the store! Thankfully it fit fine in Steve’s so we switched.

If you are on a budget you can also rent gear! Packs, tents, sleeping bags & more are available at REI. Some colleges also offer rentals, a few people in our group rented through CSULB.

The End!

Thanks for reading & be sure to let me know if you have any questions! For more about what I did before & after Havasupai check out my Arizona Roadtrip post! I’d love to help make your tirp as enjoyable as possible!

XOXO – Megan

13 thoughts on “Backpacking Havasupai

  1. Congratulations on your first blog post. I really enjoyed reading about your adventure and the pictures made me feel like I’d gone along with you. Keep up the blogging.

    Like

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