I finally backpacked into Havasupai after hearing so much about it and finally reserving a permit last February. I spent 3 days this April in Havasupai swimming in turquoise-colored waterfalls and sleeping under the stars. It was so relieving to completely disconnect and take in the beauty of the Havasupai Waterfalls.
The Havasupai Waterfalls are a series of 5 waterfalls in Havasu Canyon, located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation and surrounded by the Grand Canyon National Park. The most famous waterfall is the 80-ft tall Havasu Falls and the tallest, and my personal favorite, is the 200-ft tall Mooney Falls.
To backpack into Havasupai, you first need to make a reservation prior to arriving. Reservations open on February 1st of each year and most of the dates typically sell out within minutes. The prices are quite steep but I think it’s worth it to hike Havasupai at least once.
Getting to Havasupai
The two closest airports to the Hualapai Hilltop parking lot where the trail begins are Phoenix and Las Vegas, both about a 4-hour drive. We flew into Las Vegas so we can grab some authentic Chinese food before leaving civilization for three days.
The drive was mostly on major highways until the last 60 miles which was on a small paved but open range road with animal crossings. We took a pit stop at Peach Springs to fill up on gas, brush our teeth, and get everything ready for the hike the next morning.
That night, we slept in the car at the Hualapai Hilltop parking lot and unfortunately, we learned that it gets real cold at night.
Backpacking into Havasupai
We started the hike around 6:30 AM to beat the desert heat. The hike started with switchbacks descending from the parking lot to the canyon floor and the rest was relatively flat as we followed the canyon for 8 miles until we hit Supai village.
Supai village is one of the most remote Indian reservations with no cars and only reachable by foot, horse or helicopter. There’s one family restaurant, a convenience store and a tourism center. After checking in at the tourism center and getting our wristbands, we continued another 3 miles to reach the campgrounds.
This is the main waterfall you see as you descend into the campgrounds and it is absolutely stunning. We reached the falls with our full gears around 11 AM and the sun was just beginning to shine on the falls. You should research when is the best time to see the falls in full sun because the photos look so much nicer.
After we set up our tent and cooked lunch, we came back to Havasu Falls with swim suits around 1 PM when it was mostly in the sun. There are small pools and streams to wade through to get right in front of Havasu Falls, but to get close you need to jump in. After spending all the effort to see Havasu Falls, we had to take a swim despite the water being so cold. 100% worth it and would totally do it again.
Navajo Falls & Fifty Foot Falls
Later in the afternoon, we wandered towards Supai village to check out Navajo and Fifty Foot Falls. They are much smaller than Havasu but there are a lot of small trails to explore around the falls.
The next day, we hiked to Mooney Falls at the other end of the campground. Mooney is my personal favorite and the tallest of the Havasupai Waterfalls. The hike down to Mooney is treacherous as many people have said, including using chains to descend rocky trails and climbing down wooden ladders. But Mooney Falls is much bigger and more majestic than Havasu. On our hike back later in the afternoon around 2 PM, the lighting was perfect and the entire fall was in the sun.
Beaver Falls is 3 miles past Mooney Falls and includes several river crossings as the trail goes on both sides of the river. At first we took off our shoes at each crossing, but then decided to just walk through the water with shoes because it became too much of a hassle. At some point, we even crossed wooden planks and downed trees over pretty deep water! The river crossings were a lot of fun and adrenaline.
We almost gave up because we thought we overshot Beaver Falls, but luckily another group caught up to us and confirmed that we haven’t reached it yet. I’m glad we didn’t turn back. Once there, we swam in the multiple wading pools, climbed up rocks and the series of cascading waterfalls, and jumped off the falls. It felt like a hidden oasis in the canyons.
On the third day, we began our hike at 4:30 AM to ensure we have a spot on the helicopters flying out of Supai village. We were the second people in line and spent the next three hours cooking breakfast until the helicopters began operating. The entire ride took 4 minutes as we flew over the canyon and saw the exact trails that we hiked down.
To date, I’m still awed by the Havasupai Waterfalls and how beautiful they were. From swimming in the water to stargazing on our picnic tables, it was such an enjoyable and relaxing backpacking trip.