Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
Havasupai Falls

A Guide To Backpacking Havasupai Falls

In November of 2016 I completed a trip that was high on my bucket, a backpacking adventure to Havasupai Falls. In this guide I cover travel, permits, hiking, and more!

In November of 2016 I completed a trip that was high on my bucket, a backpacking adventure to Havasupai Falls. Havasupai Falls is one of those backpacking trips that will stick with you long after you’ve returned home. The shimmering turquoise waters, the powerful pounding of waterfalls, and a journey deep into the wondrous Grand Canyon makes for journey like few on earth. In a previous post, I put together my 20 favorite photos from my trip to Havasupai Falls.

The problem with Havasupai Falls is that it can seem like a bucket list mirage to many. The permits are virtually impossible to come by, which can make planning for this trip very difficult. In this guide, I will clearly lay out a ‘start to finish’ guide for those wishing to backpack to Havasupai Falls.

Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear


I. Obtaining The Ever Elusive Havasupai Falls Permit

The most difficult part about planning a Havasuapi Falls trip is obtaining a permit. Much like the John Muir Trail, the number of aspiring visitors far outnumbers the quantity of available permits. For 2017, permits for Havasupai opened in February and are now almost completely booked. Keep an eye out for when permits open up for 2018 by keeping tabs¬†on the official Havasupai Website. When permits are available, you can book online or by phone. If no permits are available, you can check back and call in periodically to see if anyone has cancelled. Be flexible!! Permits are very hard to come by, so don’t be picky and take whichever dates you can get.

Booking Permits By Phone

To book a permit by phone, call the tourist office at 928-448-2121. Be aware that you will probably not get through on your first few tries. I’ve read accounts of people calling in for days without having their call go through. Getting a permit booked via phone is a matter of luck and patience.¬†Reservation Lines are open from 9 am – 3 pm, Monday through Friday.¬†Camping Tourist Office Hours:¬†May-October 6 am to¬†6 pm and November-April 8 am to 5 pm.

Booking Permits Online

The ability to book permits online is new for 2017, but as of late February 2017 the Havasupai site reads “Due to overwhelming reservation requests¬† our online reservations will be unavailable.” I was able to use the online permit request at Sunrise Reservations¬†to book my permit for November. I hope that the online reservation site is back up soon, because it is an infinitely more efficient way to view and book available permits.

To get started on Sunrise Reservation, you first need to select your desired backpacking dates. From there, the form will tell you how many sites, if any, are available.¬†If there are sites available on the dates that you’ve selected, you see a drop down menu for “Site Name” where you can select your campsite. From there, you’ll click “Continue” and proceed to fill out personal information and payment information to finalize your permit reservation.

Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
Date Selection

Reservation Cost And Pricing

  • Camping fees are $25 per person, per night
  • A $10 environmental fee is assessed for each person
  • A $50 entrance fee is assessed for each person
  • A 10% tax is assessed on all fees
  • This breaks down to $85 per person on their first night, and $25 per night thereafter. This is why it’s a good idea to plan on multiple nights for minimizing the overall cost per night.
  • There are no discounts for children

New Havasupai Reservation Policies For 2017

  • Payment is due in full at the time of booking
  • One credit card must pay for the entire reservation. No cost splitting.
  • Payments are non-refundable
  • Permit reservations are not transferrable

Seasonal Considerations And Best Times To Hike

Be mindful of the seasons and the time of year you’ll be visiting Havasupai. In the warmer months you’ll be able to enjoy the water, but you’ll have to deal with a scorching hot hike and the prevalence of bugs. In the cooler months, you won’t be able to enjoy the water, but you will have very pleasant hiking conditions. Flooding is a major risk on this hike, make sure to follow the weather reports!

Day Hiking Without A Permit

There are signs at Hualapai Hilltop that state no day hiking is allowed. It’s easy to see why, as most people are not capable of hiking 20 miles with all of the uphill coming in the second half of the hike. As someone that has hiked the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim and Rim to Rim to Rim, I can attest to the level of difficulty. Unless you’re in tip top shape and have completed something like this before, do not try to hike this in one day!


II. Getting To Havasupai Falls via Hualapai Hilltop

  • In order to hike to Havasupai Falls, you have to first drive to the trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop. Getting to Hualapai Hilltop is a long drive regardless of where you’re coming from.
  • If you’re driving from west of Arizona, head east on HWY 40 towards Kingman AZ and take Route 66 towards Peach Springs. East of Peach Springs you’ll see Indian Road 18. Take this until the road terminates at Hualapai Hilltop.Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
  • If you’re coming from the east, head west on HWY 40 past Flagstaff until you reach Seligman. From Seligman, join Route 66 and follow the instructions above.Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
  • Click here for directions on Google Maps

III. Gear and Food Considerations

One of the most important parts of planning a¬†backpacking trip to Havasupai Falls¬†is making sure you pack the right gear. The importance of planning and packing is amplified if you intend on bringing your children along with you. In this gear guide, I’ll provide a comprehensive gear list for backpackers that will include¬†information on packs, clothing, footwear, shelter, sleeping, electronics, and food. I’ll also include a designated section for those planning to bring a child along.

Click here to see my packing list for Havasupai Falls

One of the most important parts of planning a backpacking trip to Havasupai Falls is making sure you pack the right gear. The importance of planning and packing is amplified if you intend on bringing your children along with you. In this gear guide, I'll provide a comprehensive gear list for backpackers that will include information on packs, clothing, footwear, shelter, sleeping, electronics, and food. I'll also include a designated section for those planning to bring a child along.


IV. Hiking To Supai From Hualapai Hilltop

Before visitors can catch a glimpse of the falls at Havasupai, an 8 mile hike to the town of Supai is required just to check in and pick up a reserved permit. From Supai, the trail continues for another two miles past Navajo, Havasu, Mooney Falls, and the designated camping area. You’ll descend 2000 feet from Hualapai Hilltop down into the Canyon to Supai. You’ll then descend another 400 feet to Mooney Falls.

Make sure to check out my detailed post on how to hike from Hualapai Hilltop to Supai Village. In this post I’ll provide all of the tools you need to complete this hike, including data, photos, GPX, a trail guide, and details on picking up your permit from the Supai Visitor Center. I’ll also include information on eating at the Supai Grill.

Trail Distances

  • 8 mi from Hualapi Hilltop to Supai
  • 2 mi from Supai to the campground
  • .5 mi from the campground to Mooney Falls
  • 8 miles from Mooney Falls to the Colorado River
Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
Hualapai Hilltop
Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
Heading To Supai

If you’re not feeling up to hiking, you can book a helicopter ride on a¬†Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, if the weather permits. The ticket price varies, and allocation is based on a first come first served basis. Tribe members take priority. You can also hire a pack mule for $121 each way with a 10% tax. For mules going INTO Supai, you must make the pack mule reservations at least one week in advance through the camping office by calling¬†(928) 448-2121. For pack mules going OUT OF Supai, you only need to book one day before. The limit for each mule is 4 bags and 130 lbs.


V. Exploring Havasupai Falls And Camping At The Havasu Falls Campground

Once you’ve completed your hike to Supai Village from Hualapai Hilltop, you can continue on towards the falls and the Havasu Campsite. On this hike you see Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, and Mooney Falls. You’ll also walk past the numerous campsite options. Make sure to read my post on this section of the hike for GPX tracks, hiking data, a detailed trail report, and lots of photos.

Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
Havasu Falls
Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
Havasu Falls pt II

Make sure you bring proper footwear if you plan on hiking down to the base of Mooney Falls. The trail down is treacherous and not for those with a fear of heights. I cover this section of the hike in detail in a separate post.

Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
Mooney Falls
Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
Mooney Falls Hike

Once you’ve explored and visited the falls, make your way back to your¬†campsite for an evening by the water. The campsite has potable water available for backpackers, with toilets close by as well. I cover this more in a dedicated post.¬†

Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
Campground
Havasupai Falls Guide Havasu Mooney Navajo Supai Permits Gear
Campsites

VI. Returning to Hualapai Hilltop By Foot Or By Air

Once you’ve reached the end of your Havasupai Falls visit, you’ll hike out the on the same route that you arrived. The difficult part here, is that the hike out is all uphill. Get your hiking legs ready!

If you’re not feeling up to hiking, you can book a helicopter ride on a¬†Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, if the weather permits. The ticket price varies, and allocation is based on a first come first served basis. Tribe members take priority. You can also hire a pack mule for $121 each way with a 10% tax. For mules going INTO Supai, you must make the pack mule reservations at least one week in advance through the camping office by calling¬†(928) 448-2121. For pack mules going OUT OF Supai, you only need to book one day before. The limit for each mule is 4 bags and 130 lbs.



VII. Supai Lodge

Another option for those wanting to see Havasupai Falls is to stay at the Supai Lodge.

  • The lodge can be reached at¬†(928) 448-2111.
  • The lodge has 24 rooms with double beds.
  • Each room costs $145 for up to 4 people, and the standard 10% tax is assessed.
  • You must cancel reservations two weeks in advance for a full refund.
  • A $40 deposit per room, per night is required.
  • There is an entrance fee of $50 per person

VIII. Resources


I'm Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

20 comments on “A Guide To Backpacking Havasupai Falls

  1. Thanks for the post! Saving this for a future adventure!

  2. We did Havasupai in September of last year…. I thought Iceland had the best waterfalls…..not too sure anymore… These falls were amazing! Had such a wonderful time. Would like to get back in the next year or so.

  3. SUPER DUPER AWESOME! Still on my bucket list. Going to book mark this!

  4. Mooney Falls…there can’t be a better view.

  5. Thanks for such a thorough guide. Hope to get back there some day. Still one of my all time favourites. I recently returned from Laos where I visited falls that reminded me a bit of Havasupai. Post to come eventually.

  6. Hi..very detailed writing. We (hubby and me) are planning to visit the falls in may. Our’s is a 2 day plan. Day 1 – reach the hilltop and begin an early hike (8 am).estimated time to reach the campground is (6 hours) 2 pm. 5 hours of hike down hill and 1 hour break. Relax at the lodge or by the falls and cover havasu and Mooney falls on day 1
    Day 2 – start hike to beaver falls at 7 am and spend 2 to 3 hours in Beaver and Navajo falls and begin hike back by 10 am. Estimating to reach hill top by 7 pm (9 hours as it is uphill )
    Please let me know
    1. if you think this is a realistic plan?
    2. If we need to dedicate more time anywhere (be it hiking or spending time at the falls)
    3. We will be staying at the lodge. Do let us know what our one day hike back pack must include.

    • It’s hard for me to say without knowing your level of fitness and backpacking experience. Your first day sounds very reasonable. I don’t think you’ll have any problem fitting everything in on day one.

      Day two would be questionable unless you have peak fitness. The hike from the lodge to Beaver Falls is about 8 miles round trip. After hiking 8 miles in the morning, you would have to hike back up to Hilltop. Your arrival time at Hilltop (7pm) would be reasonable given you are in great shape and have proper hiking conditioning. Without knowing your conditioning, I can’t really answer your first question. As for question 2, I think your plan will allow you to see everything without being too rushed. For question #3, you can view my gear post (https://trailtopeak.com/2017/02/05/my-comprehensive-havasupai-falls-gear-list/). Since you’ll be staying at the lodge, you can travel very light. You won’t need a tent, sleeping bag, etc. If you plan on eating at the Supai Restaurant, you’ll only need to pack snacks. You can see my standard hiking gear list here: https://trailtopeak.com/2016/10/12/whats-in-my-hiking-bag-a-look-at-my-current-hiking-gear-list/

  7. Thanks for the reply. Can I include beaver falls trek too on day 1? Assuming the down hill trek may not be super tiring and if we reach the campground at 2pm and also assuming that there will be daylight till 7pm. Can we cover havasu falls, Mooney falls and beaver falls in 5 hours?

    My husband is fit and I wouldn’t consider too fit. It took me 30 min to hike up a hill with an elevation of 1686 ft and 1.1 mile distance.

    We also don’t hike or trek regularly as our work schedule doesn’t allow us to.

    • Hello Rashmi, I can’t really answer that question for you. You’d be looking at around 14 miles on you first day if you hiked to Beaver Falls. Once you factor in meals, lodge check in, enjoying the falls, etc, you’re going to be cutting it pretty close for time. If I were you, I would play it by ear. Hike down to Mooney Falls on day 1, and then see how much time and energy you have left. If you’re tired and it’s late, head back to the lodge. If it’s early and you energy, continue on.

  8. Ok.Thanks a lot for all the information provided.

  9. Kimberly

    STOP USING THE HORSES FOR BACK PACKING, THIS TRIBE ABUSES THESE HORSES, THEY’RE IN HORRIBLE HEALTH, ABUSED, WHIPPED FORCED TO CARRYING YOUR PACKS. PACK YOUR OWN SHIT. IF YOU USE THESE HORSES YOUR GUILTY TO FOR ALLOWING THE ABUS TO CONTINUE.

  10. Oh my gosh! This looks absolutely stunning. I’ll have to check it out once I can get a permit! Thanks for the well-detailed info.

  11. Diana Padilla

    Kimberly, YES I AM WITH YOU ON THIS! If the tribe is abusing the mules, I wouldn’t wanna pay for my permits. But that seems impossible to do. I’ve been wanting to visit these falls for awhile now, I didn’t realize it would be so expensive. I understand the indian reservation wants to protect its land and its beauty, they have all right too. Unfortunately, they probably don’t have high standards on animal rights and abusing their mule. Is there a head Chief or councilmen to bring these concerns up to? I can’t imagine what hell those poor mules go through in the Arizona heat.

    And thank you Drew Robinson/ Trail To Peak, for creating this amazing guide. I really wanted to visit this year but I will now be planning a several day trip for next Spring. Also are the trails big enough for ATV’s or 3 wheelers? The hike is the beauty of taking this trip (and being the obvious cerulean waterfalls) but out of curiosity is that an option?

  12. Hi. I was only able to grab a one day permit back when the website worked… Figured, better than nothing. Is there any way we can extend our stay another night once we get there?

    • Hello, Maria. As far as I know, that is not possible unless someone were to cancel on the day you need. You might want to try the Lodge. They could have availability.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: