Hiking to Havasu Falls was one of the most amazing backpacking trips I’ve ever been on. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet as it’s beauty is incredible and it feels completely isolated from the outside world.
Since Havasupai is such a difficult place to get permits for, you want to make sure that you’re fully prepared for your hiking trip so that you can maximize your time there. My last trip was only for 2 nights and if I ever get the chance to go again, I’m definitely going for at least 4 since there’s so much to see an explore!
Here are some things that I learned from that trip that will hopefully help to make yours the best that it can be:
DO: Get a Permit
Permits for hiking to Havasu Falls are required and very difficult to obtain since this place has become a highly sought after “insta-famous” location. Havasu Falls is located on a Native American reservation and without a permit you are illegally trespassing on their land. During our hike down, we encountered two unfriendly mule drivers on the trail who asked for our names to make sure we were on the list of permits before we even got to the Supai Village to pick them up. Don’t mess around with trying to get in without a permit – it won’t work and you’ll just be ruining it for everyone. Detailed guide on getting a permit here.
DON’T: Day Hike
If you can’t get a permit, then sorry but you can’t go. The permits are for overnights, but day hiking to Havasu Falls is not allowed. There are signs everywhere at the trailhead and along the trail that say day hiking is not allowed. If you couldn’t get a permit for this year, then try again next year. Havasu Falls is 10 miles down the trail, past the Supai Village. Don’t try to sneak in because it won’t work.
DO: Bring Water Shoes & a Hammock
The water is half the point of this location right? Havasu creek is pretty shallow and warm so you’re going to want to spend lots of time exploring and walking around through the water. Watershoes are an absolutely must for this – while the creek is clam and sandy, you don’t want to be hiking through the woods in your bare feet along the way. Light weight hammocks are also a great thing to bring. Every campsite has plenty of tress and space to hang up a hammock or two and they’re a great way to relax after a 10 mile hike.
DON’T: Be Afraid of Backpacking
There are three options for getting to the campground or lodge – backpacking, mules, or helicopter. If you’ve never backpacked before, 10miles might sound a bit daunting, but it’s really not bad at all! This was my first backpacking trip and I’m really glad this is the route we chose. The entire hike to Havasu Falls is downhill and flat, which makes it pretty easy. Also, there’s a general store in the Supai Village, so if you forgot something, it’s not like you’re completely stranded in the middle of nowhere. This is actually a really great hike to start with if you’ve been considering backpacking.
DO: Sleep In Your Car and Start Hiking Early
You want to beat the heat during your hike. The best way to do this is to start hiking around 4 or 5 am before the sun comes up so that you’ve made it to the campground well before noon. To do this, it’s best to drive to the trailhead the night before and sleep in your car. If you’re going to be driving at night to get to the trailhead, be very weary of what might be crossing the road – we almost hit sever rabbits, frogs, mice, and a giant steer!
DON’T: Go In The Summer or September
In the summer, temperatures can get into the 100s during the day, which isn’t ideal. Spring and Fall has milder weather that makes for a more enjoyable trip. September is monsoon season, so also not the greatest time to visit if you don’t want to get rained on. That being said, getting permits is so difficult, that if you want to go, you pretty much have to take whatever is available.
DO: Hike to Beaver Falls
It’s absolutely worth it. Lots of people will only go as far as Mooney Falls, which is 2 miles past the campground. Beaver Falls is another 2 miles past that (as the crow flies, not by the trail), which makes it less crowded. Plan to spend a full day hiking to and exploring Beaver Falls. The trail to get there is mostly just a path created by previous hikers – it’s wild and unkept, which makes for a fun experience hiking to the falls. These falls are also just as beautiful as Havasu Falls with their tiered waterfalls. More details about the 5 waterfalls of Havasu Creek.
DON’T: Leave Your Food Unprotected
There are LOTS of marmots at the campground which are very craft about getting into your food! Some people bring bear canisters etc. to protect their food and hang it in the trees. You can also get an orange plastic bucket from the ranger station at the entrance to the campground (lesser known fact). There won’t always be someone at the ranger station, but the buckets are sitting on the porch and available for use.
DO: Bring an Empty Water Jug
There’s a fresh water spring where you can get water near the beginning of the campground. Depending on where you’re camping though, you don’t want to have to go back and forth the entire trip to get fresh water. So if you bring an empty jug with you, it’s no added weight for the hike down, and then you can fill it up once at the spring and have fresh water for the entirety of your stay.
DON’T: Leave Your Trash
There are no trashcans at the campground. There are latrines, but this is not a place to dispose of your trash. Pack it out with you!! When we went, it was early in the season, so there wasn’t much trash along the trail, but I’ve read and heard from others that this gets worse throughout the year. Littering will destroy this beautiful place and there’s absolutely no reason to do it.
DO: Treat The Area & Locals With Respect
Part of the magic of Havasu Falls is that it’s untouched by the outside world. That needs to be protected and respected in order for hikers to continue to enjoy it. Only camp where you are allowed to camp (not on the edge of Moody Falls which is meant to be a picnic area for everyone to enjoy), clean up after yourself, don’t blast music at your campsite at night, and don’t destroy vegetation as much as possible. Always leave no trace! Also, this is not our land, this land belongs to the Supai people and they are sharing it with us so that we can experience the beauty and wonder of that place. So be respectful to the Supai people who live here. If not, they could close this place to the public and keep it all to themselves.
DON’T: Bring Alcohol
This goes with the above about being respectful. Alcohol is not allowed anywhere on the reservation – for anyone locals or visitors. Respect the tribe’s wishes and follow this rule.
And of course most importantly – have a great trip! Havasu Falls is a truly magical place and something I hope everyone gets to experience and enjoy while still respecting and protecting the wildness of this area.