Heading out to Havasupai in Arizona was my first ever backpacking experience, and I sure learned a lot from it. Prior to the day of our hike, I was very nervous about my heavy pack. I’m used to only bringing a small day-pack with me in my long hikes, so I knew that it was definitely going to be a challenge to hike 10miles with my 40L pack. I did a lot of careful planning for this trip, and because of that (and the right mindset) I was assured that everything was going to go smooth.
Here, I’d like to share with you a travel guide which will help you make your backpacking trip to Havasupai a successful one!
PREPARING FOR HAVASUPAI
Advanced preparation is the most important part of the whole trip, so be sure to give yourself enough time to research about the place and the hike. It’s nice to know what you’ll be expecting when you’re out there. It would also be ideal to start packing one week before your trip so you can gauge how heavy your pack is going to be, as well as eliminate any other items you think would be unnecessary.
Reservations usually open up in February of each year, and once they do you will have to call the Havasupai Tourism Office at (928) 448-2121 to make your reservation. I warn you, it will be very hard to get in touch with them because of the high number of callers they receive each day. Do not give up and just power your way through until you get to speak with someone.
Reservation dates run out so fast during the first week of them getting reservations, so expect a lot of unavailable dates. I suggest preparing 3 or more different preferred trip dates so you would have options, in case the first few dates are already unavailable.
If you ever get unlucky with date reservations, try looking for tour companies or even Facebook Groups for Havasupai and ask if any of them have available reservations for the campsite. My group was actually unable to secure a date the time we called, but was lucky enough to have met Chris Reed of Sonoran Trails in the Yondering Buds Facebook Group I was a part of, and he had extra slots in his reservation. I took it without hesitation 🙂 Chris’ company offers Jeep Camper Rentals, and by next year will be offering tour trips –Havasupai included! So keep an eye out for that.
Entrance fee – $35 per person
Camping fee – $17 per person per night
Environmental fee – $5 per person
Mule & Helicopter Info
Reserving a Mule to help carry some of your items and gear to Havasupai is possible, and they are able to carry 4 packs or 2 big coolers (be sure to keep your bags at 30lbs to be safe. I’ve heard some cases where bags were left behind because of being overweight). It costs about $170 for one mule, and you can split this between 4 people if you’d like.
To reserve a mule, you would have to call their tourism office, one week prior to your trip, and inform them of how many mules you’d like to reserve for your party.
Before hiking in, be sure to leave your bags in Hualapai Hilltop’s office (located right in front of the trailhead), and check-in by 7:00am to receive your tag for the bags which you will leave behind for the mules. Once your bags are all set, you can start your hike.
For those who do not want to hike in, you can opt for the helicopter rides. The helis come and pick you up at Hualapai Hilltop by 10am, and take you directly to Havasu Village, which is about 8 miles in. Be sure to line up early for check-in so you wouldn’t have to wait too long in line. The cost of the helicopter ride is $85 per person, one-way.
During our trip my husband and I utilized one slot in the Mule to help carry some of our food and gear. As “backpacking newbies”, we didn’t really own a lot of backpacking items (in other words light and more compact items) so we knew we had to reserve at least one slot in the mule.
Weather & Temperature
Here’s how each season varies in Havasupai:
Spring (March-May): Perfect weather for backpacking as the days will be cool, and the waterfalls will be raging because of snowmelt.
Summer (June-Aug): Expect very hot days, so be sure to start your hike early each day to avoid the mid-day sun. Note that July & August are monsoon seasons here, so check the weather for any chance of thunderstorms.
Fall (Sept-Nov): Great time for backpacking as well, because the weather will start to cool down during these months. Note that by the end of November, it will start to get colder.
Winter (Dec-Feb): Havasupai is closed during this time of the year because of snow.
Check the forecast a few days prior to your visit. A week before our trip, we were expecting warm & sunny weather. About 2 days before the hike, we checked and the expected weather changed to cloudy with a chance of rain. We ended up having to get ponchos for the hike.
Heat Wave & Flash Flood Warnings
Always be in the look out for heat wave or flash flood warnings. These two are probably the only hazards for hiking in Havasupai, and it is usually common during the summer time. If the heat will be harsh the day of your hike, be sure to pack lots of water and take lots of breaks. Know the different warning signs for heat stroke, and know what to do in case one of you suffers from it during the hike. If there is a threat for flash floods, head for higher ground.
Portable Stove + Pot + Fuel
Small Fast-drying Towel
Empty Water Bottle (for refills)
First Aid Kit
Floaters (optional, but I definitely had no regrets in bringing one 😉 )
Check out my review for ONWEGO®’s travel pillows! These are by far the most lightweight and compact backpacking pillows i’ve owned, and it barely took up space in our packs. Definitely perfect for this trip!
2 Tank Tops
1 Sports Bra
1 Hiking Shoes
1 Sweater (for colder nights)
1 Sweatpants (for colder nights)
Note that you can always wash your clothes while you’re out there, to reuse them. Just be sure to use biodegradable soap!
Campfires are not allowed in Havasupai, so it was a bit hard to get creative with our meals. Here’s an idea of what we opted to bring which kept us full and satisfied the whole trip:
Just Add Water – Oatmeal, cup noodles and other heavy meals like Wise Company’s Freeze Dried Food are great to bring for this trip because they are so easy to make, and taste absolutely delicious! Nothing beats a hot and tasty meal after each activity-filled day.
Ready To Eat – Foods that are not easily perishable are also great to bring. For this we brought bread thins, peanut butter packets, tuna packets, protein bars, and fruit packs.
Liquids – For mornings we brought instant coffee packets, and tea. For hiking we brought a squeezable electrolyte liquid water enhancer. For colder nights, we brought hot chocolate.
Trail Snacks – In Havasupai you will be hiking a lot, so snacks that you can eat while on the trail is a must. I never leave for a hike without some nuts, granola bars, and of course..a couple of bags of Field Trip Jerky (their Maple BBQ Pork Jerky is a must try!)
Do not pack too much food. Between our group of 4, we brought a few items of each and shared our meals every time. This way we were able to have enough to last us 4 days.
If you’re like me, and you love to take photos and videos to document your trip, you probably have a couple of gadgets you need to bring. If you don’t mind the added weight, here is my gear list for this purpose:
I cannot express how convenient it was to have a solar charger during this trip. I was out in Havasupai for 4 days, and Power Traveller’s Solarmonkey Adventurer kept all of my gadgets in full charge!
Plus, I love how it comes with its own carabiner for me to hang it in my pack while adventuring. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s losing battery juice for my cameras halfway through a trip.
HIKING INTO HAVASUPAI CAMP
Miles: 10 miles total (8 miles to reach Supai Village, plus 2 miles to reach the campground)
Elevation Change: Gain/loss of about 2,400ft
The first few miles of the hike will take you through switchbacks headed down the canyon. The trail is a bit rocky, so be wary of twisting an ankle; it is also somewhat steep, so be careful with your knees. After that you will be hiking on a relatively flat trail, in between Havasu Canyon’s walls.
The views all around are amazing! The canyon walls look like buildings along Wall Street, plus you’ll get to come across wild horses!
It is very important to take ample breaks in between, for snacks. Fueling your body and maintaining your energy is very crucial to finishing the hike. Hydrate every chance you get, and don’t ever rush yourself. Keeping a good pace and resting when needed is what’s going to get you to Havasupai without any problems.
After about what seems like forever, you will eventually come across a sign that says “Supai”, and this marks the 6th mile of your hike since you started. Only 2 more miles to get to the village, and 4 more to get to the campsite.
When me and my friends reached Supai Village, we were so tempted to stop and eat at their cafe. The sign that says “hamburgers” and “hot food” sounded so good after 8 miles of hiking, but we resisted. We knew that the campsite was going to fill up fast, and even if we knew we’d for sure have a spot, we wanted to be able to get the perfect spot right next to the river..so we continued on our journey and headed for the campsite.
Once we left the village, we started hiking right next to rivers and streams. Seeing the turquoise colored water motivated us to finish the last bit of the hike.
The campsite is about 3/4 of a mile long, and is split into two sides with the beautiful turquoise river running in between. To get to the other side of the stream, you will have to cross some wooden planks, so be careful with those heavy packs and don’t topple over.
The bathrooms were surprisingly much better and cleaner than what I had pictured in my head. I saw about 4 restrooms near the campsite, one on each end, and 2 in the middle. The bathrooms, although no showers or faucets, were very clean and it didn’t smell bad at all. Biodegradable toilet paper was provided, and they also have wood chips available for composting.
If you really need to take a shower during your trip, then I suggest you get some biodegradable shampoo, and you can bathe in the river.
You will also be able to find a spring-fed water source within the campsite. Be sure to bring an empty gallon container with you to get water refills from here.
This water spring is located near the entrance of the campsite, very hard to miss because of the helpful signs in the area.
Exploring Havasupai IN 4 DAYS
DAY 1: Hike In, Set Up Camp, and Relax
We started our hike at 7am sharp, and got to the campsite by 1pm. We picked a site and ate lunch at the picnic tables provided, before we started setting up our tents. We took a nap to regain a bit of energy from the tough hike we just had, and at around 3pm we made our way to the campsite’s entrance to pick up our bags brought in by the mules. Once we were able to settle in with all our stuff, we decided to stay and relax in the campsite, take a dip in the river right next to our spot, and then retire in bed so we can wake up early the next day.
DAY 2: Mooney Falls & Beaver Falls
Mooney Falls & Beaver Falls are both located further north of the campsite (if you don’t have a compass, this would be away from where the campsite entrance is). The trail to Mooney Falls is about 1 mile away from the campsite, and it will take you down the canyon via small caves, rope chains, and ladders –it was very thrilling and exciting. Once you reach the bottom, you’ll get to swim in the pools surrounding Mooney Falls, as well as swing and jump from smaller waterfall cliffs.
About 2 more miles out on the trail, you will be able to reach Beaver Falls. I truly enjoyed the hike getting there because it offered such a beautiful view of the canyon, with orange-colored walls and so much green plants! It was like being lost in a lush jungle.
Although Beaver Falls is not as huge as Mooney Falls, I loved how it was a bunch of smaller waterfalls, cascading down. It offered a lot of pools to take a dip in, and was wonderful.
(Optional trip to the Colorado River – If you started your hike really early and wanted to explore some more, you could continue on the trail for about 3 more miles and you’ll be able to reach the Colorado River. This would also be an ideal trip if you had one more extra day to spare in Havasupai)
Because we were able to get back to camp earlier than expected, we decided to have early supper, so we could explore Havasu Falls at night. Although we were not able to take a dip because the water was cold, my friends hung out with me as I tried taking night photos of the falls together with the stars.
DAY 3: 50 Foot Falls, Navajo Falls, and Havasu Falls
We started our day by hiking back up towards Supai Village, and stopped where the 50 Foot Falls and the Navajo Falls were. This is about a mile away from the campsite, and it offered a great spot for just chilling and swimming inside the pools. We also had a lot of fun going underneath the waterfalls!
Saving the best one for last, we headed back to Havasu Falls and hung out there for the rest of the afternoon. It was a nice place to just relax and eat our lunch. This was the most scenic location out of all, I must say..and the photos don’t do it justice!
Before heading back to our campsite, we made a quick stop at the Frybread Hut place, ran by the locals. They offered tacos and dessert, served in their own signature frybread. I’ve never had it before and it was delicious! They have meat with lettuce and cheese for the tacos, bean & cheese, and also some nutella, strawberry syrup, and powdered sugar if you wanted something sweet. It was around $5-7 each.
Upon reaching the campsite, we started packing our stuff to prepare for our hike out the following day. (If you lost your mule tags, this day would be the best day to get new ones. You will find the person in charge of this along the entrance to the campsite)
DAY 4: Hike Back to Hualapai Hilltop
Woke up at 4am, packed our tent and prepared the bags which will be for the mules. We carried everything (including trash) and left the packs with tags for the mules right by the entrance of the campsite. They have a designated spot for trash bags as well, so keep an eye out for that.
We then made our way up to Supai Village and stopped there to buy snacks and some souvenirs. If you were planning on riding the helicopter, this is the place where you will line up for that.
At around 7am, we started our long hike back up the canyon, and reached Hualapai Hilltop by 1pm. Our bags carried in by the mules were already there once we got to the parking lot.
It was such a bittersweet finish once we were back at the top. I was so proud and happy of what I had just accomplished, but very sad to be leaving such a beautiful place.
4 days was definitely enough to explore what Havasupai has to offer, but if given another chance, I would do 5 days. It was such a great place to unwind, so hard to get tired of the views, and I would need one ore extra day to soak it all in.
I hope this guide helps you achieve a wonderful and memorable trip to Havasupai. It truly is a magical place, a little piece of heaven here on earth! If you ask me, getting to experience a place like this for a couple of days is totally worth the challenging hike.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER:
I highly recommend staying at Kingman, AZ a day before your hike. This city is about 2 hours away from Hualapai Hilltop, so leaving at 5am will give you ample time to get to the trailhead to start your hike by 7am. There were a lot of cheap and clean motels in this area, as well as great food options.
Respect The Land
Havasupai is part of the Indian Reservation and it is owned by the tribal members living in the area. Be sure to pay respect to their land, follow their rules, and do not ever leave trash behind.
Do check out my adventure video for Havasupai to see more of how this trip went! We definitely enjoyed this place, and I know you will love it here, too!
Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, however I did receive free products. As always, all opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.