Definitely a trip to add to your bucket list. The Havasupai Indian Reservation is a beautiful oasis on the edge of the Grand Canyon.
How to Get a Reservation
Havasupai requires reservations to camp overnight. Reservations can only be made over the phone and it is very difficult to get a hold of an actual person when you call so planning this trip definitely requires some determination. If you are lucky enough to get in, you will need to make yourself available for whatever dates they have as it is consistently fully booked. There is a maximum number of guests that can stay in the Havasupai Indian Reservation per night so when you book, be prepared to tell them how many guests you will be bringing. The charges are:
$25 per person/night camping fee
$50 Entrance fee/person
$10 Environmental fee/person
10% tax on top of all the above
They also require the first night camping fee up front as a deposit. Guests will need to book your mode of transportation down the canyon as well. They offer a few options. Guests can hike down along with all of your gear, reserve a mule to carry your bags down & then hike in, or a cushy 7 minute helicopter flight into the canyon.
Hiking to Havasupai
Choose a Way Down
Since a few of the guests in our party were beginners, we opted for the mules to carry our backpacks. The price for the mule is $121 one way and can carry up to 4 bags no more than 30 lbs each. The mules take about 2 hours to reach the bottom but they do not leave the top until around noon. If you are hiking into the canyon you will want to go as early as possible to beat the heat so I would recommend getting there at 5AM to drop your bags off and start trekking. You will be asked to tag each of your bags with the reservation owner’s name. We had a pretty large group so we just split the cost for a few mules.
If you are interested, the rate for the helicopter is $80/person per way. *IF I GO AGAIN I would hike my pack in due to a few reasons. The hike down really isn’t that terrible. It is very scenic and is downhill/flat pretty much the entire way. It took us about 5 hours to get to the campground. Since we left at daybreak, we had to wait a few hours to get our gear since the mules do not get there until around 2PM.
8 Miles Later…
The hike is 8 miles to the village. When you reach the village, the first thing you will need to do is sign in and pickup your bag tags. These tags identify what party you are with and also lets the rangers know that you are an overnight guest. They say to keep this on your day pack or something that you will have on you most of the time. The Havasupai village has a small convenience store, the Lodge, and a cafeteria. If you forget to pack something, chances are, they will have it in their store. The reservation does not permit alcohol so that’s the only thing they won’t have.
The campground is an additional 2 miles after the village. The first waterfall you will come across on your way to the campground is the stunning Navajo Falls. Seeing this waterfall is life changing! It is so beautiful. The pictures just don’t do it justice.
You will be tempted to hop into this water right away, but the campground is just a little bit further! Next, you will come upon Havasu Falls. Definitely a sight to see! This waterfall is very impressive, a great welcome to the campsite. Yay! You made it! Once you make it to the campground, it is a mad dash to find the prime real estate. The campground goes back for another mile so don’t settle! The best spots in my opinion are almost to the end of the campsite, across a bridge, so you are actually in the center of 2 streams.
The campground is very well maintained with plenty of compostable toilets and a spring fed water faucet. Yes, the water is safe to drink without treating it! There are no dumpsters or trash receptacles at the campground so expect to hike out with your trash, at least to the village. I would recommend staying at least 3 nights so that you have a full 2 days to explore.
Hike to Mooney Falls
Mooney falls is just a short, BUT SCARY, trek from the back of the campground. I say scary because there is actually a chain/stair/tunnel climb to get there. You will need to climb this in order to reach the other falls (beaver & Colorado river). It is a basically wooden and dirt steps carved into a steep cliff with chains to hold. When I say steep I mean steep! It is a little daunting but I am a novice climber/hiker and I made it ok (not without hesitation).
Once you reach the bottom, you are right at the base of Mooney!
Hike to Beaver Falls
Once you reach the bottom of the chutes and ladders, you can continue on to reach Beaver Falls. Don’t forget to stop on the right side of the river after Mooney for a quick rope swing!
Now, there is no one way to get to Beaver. You will see many used trails but as long as you follow the Canyon, you will reach it. It is 4 miles from the bottom of Mooney to Beaver falls. On the way you will see beautiful swimming holes.
When you get close to Beaver falls you will notice there are 2 ways to get to the bottom. I highly recommend the RIGHT SIDE of the falls (facing downstream). The left side is slippery rock with a sketchy rope. The right side is longer but much safer. Unfortunately we witnessed a young lady slip and fall from the top of the falls and seriously injure her head. You can tell that many injuries occur here as they have a ranger posted at the falls. You have finally reached Beaver Falls!! Make sure to leave yourself ample time to beat the darkness for your hike back.
Hiking out of Havasuapi
Time to hike out of the Grand Canyon! Oh boy, sounds tough doesn’t it? It is! We actually opted for the Helicopter out ( just to see the views, I swear). There is one caveat, the helicopter ride is not a guarantee. They prioritize residents of the village first and it is weather dependent. It was a very windy day when we wanted to fly out so long story short and 5 hours later, we had to hike out with our gear!
I highly recommend hiking out and renting mules for your gear so that you aren’t stuck in this situation. It was a grueling 10 miles during mid day heat for us. Since I am a beginner, it took 5.5 hours to get out, with many breaks. Once you finish, you will feel AMAZING! What an accomplishment! Now it’s time to grab a burger, maybe 2. Oh and don’t forget a beer.
To continue planning your trip to Havasupai, you can find more information and their reservation line here.