The Havasu Falls area is one of North America’s top Backpacking destination. A side canyon of the Grand Canyon area of Arizona USA.
This entire trip is on Havasupai Native American tribal owned lands. Access is not free, and requires advanced reservations.
Access to this are is a privilege. With that comes the responsibility to respect the local people, their land and home, laws, customs, and way of life many may not be used to.
Before much of any trip planning becomes relevant. Securing a reservation is your first priority. To say reservations are difficult to obtain, is an understatement. You must have a reservation to gain access and to move freely around the area.
Their reservation methods and rates change from year to year. Be sure you visit their official source for the latest information.
Campground reservations in the past start February of each year.
Lodge reservations in the past can be made a year in advance. on a rolling year. Lodge Reservations are somewhat easier due to the fact everyone isn’t calling all on the same day, as with the campground.
Either overnight option (campground or lodge) gives you access to the village and waterfalls area. Same day “turn around trips” are not allowed.
This area is remote, even to drive to the trail head. Once past the Trail Head there are no roads. Only foot traffic, pack animal, or helicopter travel between the Trail Head and the village of Supai.
Don’t waste time and money attempting a trip in without advanced reservations. There is only one way in, and visitors are checked for their reservations along the way. There are no means to pay and obtain reservations or access in person, at the trailhead.
Use the main paved roads to drive to the trail head. Don’t take secondary roads (gravel or dirt), or seemingly shortcuts, from the South Rim area of the Grand Canyon National Park. If you aren’t on pavement your are going the wrong way.
Attempts to shortcut the paved route to reach the trail head will take you into a desolate area of thousands of square miles. Rutted roads disappear and there are no people, services, or water sources. We have heard some vehicles GPS have attempted to route people across this barren area. So we post this as a life saving warning.
All any of us can say is, be prepared for a backpacking adventure trip of a lifetime. No matter what you read, nothing compares to the real thing. This area is beyond real. It will provide you with a surreal experience you will remember the rest of your life. Most of us have to make the trip more than once to take it all in.
This area is considered by many as North America’s top backpacking destination. It is visited by people from all over the world. With a 300 person limit per day it is difficult to secure reservations. If it is your first trip, or only trip, educate yourself and prepare in advance so you can enjoy it to the max.
Don’t expect solitude. With its popularity and social media exposure this area is not the experience it once was.
During the popular months the area is full of visitors. Sold out and max’d out. The campground is often filled. There are always those disrespecting self centered types in any crowd. Expect to see the mentality of no respect, for people or nature, that will surround you. This is especially true in the Campground area. You can pretty much get away from that during the day.
If you start having trouble with people, get a local ranger involved. The locals pretty much have zero tolerance for someone causing trouble.
Havasu Falls and the Native American village of Supai, is Located in northwestern Arizona, USA. In the Grand Canyon area, and just to the south of the Colorado River. The village is home to about 500 Native American’s. They exist using horses to move goods and supplies. They maintain the village, a cafe, a store, a school, and several churches.
The village streets are more like wide dirt paths. There is no pavement. Expect horses and dogs roaming through town. As well as numerous backpacking tourists. Check for the occasional local, laid back, and watching all the commotion of the tourists. Horse pack trains loaded with tourist gear, US Mail, and ice chests, trotting through town kicking up small clouds of fine red dust.
I believe some locals would rather never see a tourist. Preferring to go back to a peace and quiet. It is such a beautiful area. But tourism and the campers that visit this area, brings is a huge source of income.
As the crow flies, the area is perhaps 50 miles or so west of the Grand Canyon’s National Parks, South Rim tourist destination.
Havasu Falls, and some of the other falls mentioned such as Mooney and Beaver, are all on Native American Havasupai Tribal lands. They are not part of the Grand Canyon National Park.
The hiking portion is generally about a 12 mile, one way hike, if going to the campground area. This trip contains some grueling switchbacks right at the trail head. The total altitude change is about 2500 feet. Most of that happens at the switchbacks. Don’t go ill prepared. Don’t attempt this if you are not in reasonable physical condition.
There are extended options that take you to other waterfalls. Beaver Falls is further down stream from the campground. It takes several hours from the campground.
If you really want to do it all, you can follow the canyon and Havasu Creek all the way down to the confluence of the Colorado River. Round trip to that point from the campground is about 16 hours of hiking. Many never see that section in person. It is a day trip. There is no overnight camping down in that area.
There is the Helicopter option as well, for those that might not be up to the larger portion of the common hike. But investigate some of the issues concerning that type of travel to and from Supai. They don’t fly everyday, or in bad weather. Plus they only fly between the Trail Head, and the Village. It is another 2 miles (one way)from the village to the campground. You have to do those 2 miles by foot.
But if you fly in and land in the village, the Lodge is real close. You just walk by a few buildings to end up at the Lodge.
Many of the waterfalls are close to, or in the general campground area. So if you stay at the Lodge you still have to plan on some hiking.
Spring and Fall is the favorite of many not wanting to endure the summer heat of the desert southwest. But those preferring to swim in the beautiful turquoise colored waters put up with the heat to enjoy the water soak.
December and January the area is pretty much closed to outsiders.
The stream water stays a constant 70°F (21°C) all year round.
Summer time air temperatures can easily hit 110°F. Winter time air temperatures can drop below freezing. Being desert climate, there is often a wild swing between daytime and nighttime temperatures.