WARNING: if – and it’s a huge if – you get to do this, it will not be your typical vacation! The preternaturally exquisite waterfalls of Havasupai are located at the bottom of Havasu Canyon, an extremely remote side canyon located West-Northwest of Grand Canyon Village on the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon. This area of the Grand Canyon is not affiliated with Grand Canyon National Park, nor is it under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. It is Native American Land belonging to the Havasupai Indian Tribe. It’s a difficult place to reach, both physically and logistically. But, if you’re lucky enough to do so, the memories you make will be burned into your brain until you shuffle off this mortal coil, and your stories may even carry on to the generations that follow!
Like any other vacation destination, educating yourself about it is key to your enjoyment of it. There are many websites devoted to providing information about this area.
We recommend starting with those which are officially sanctioned by the Havasupai Tribe:
The main point we want you to walk away with after reading this piece is that without reservations, you won’t be going to Havasupai. They don’t allow day trippers. So before you whip out your credit card and start booking flights, here’s what you must do:
Step 1. Determine whether you’re fit enough to make the hike.
Yes, it’s a hike of 8-10 miles each way on a dusty, desert trail. Helicopter and pack mule service in and/or out of Supai Village is offered on a limited basis. However, you MUST NOT count on this as your sole means of getting yourself or your belongings in or out of the canyon. Here are some of the distances you should be prepared to traverse under your own steam, with a full pack:
Hualapai Hilltop (trailhead) to Supai Village and Supai Lodge: 8 miles
Supai Village to Havasupai Campground: 2 miles
Havasupai Campground to Mooney Falls: .5 miles
Mooney Falls to Beaver Falls: 3.5 miles
If you’re prepared to walk these kinds of distances in a remote desert environment, carrying 30-50 pounds on your back, then you’re a good candidate to make the trip to Havasupai. Congratulations, you’re ready to move on to…
Step 2. Decide whether you wish to camp or lodge, and mark a couple of important dates on your calendar.
Supai Lodge and Havasu Falls Campground are open year-round. Occasional closures for maintenance, or the occasional flash flood, do occur. The former tend to be announced well in advance via the official websites listed above and typically occur during the shoulder seasons. As for the latter, well… you’ll have to cross that bridge when/if you come to it.
Havasu Falls campground is a 300+-site campground located alongside Havasu Creek. It has a composting toilet, potable water spigot, and a few picnic tables. If you wish to camp here, set aside the date of February 1st* when camping reservations for the year will be made available. Starting at 8:00 AM Arizona time, visit www.HavasupaiReservations.com and pray. Have several friends do the same if they’re willing. The majority of the campground reservations for 2018 were fully booked within two hours of opening to the public, so don’t be surprised if you strike out. Most people will. If that includes you, keep checking back periodically as cancellations do occur. *The campground reservations opening date of February 1st may be subject to change. Visit www.HavasupaiReservations.com and put your name on their e-mail list, so you can be notified in the event that does happen.
If you prefer a proper bed and modern plumbing, Supai Lodge is where you’ll want to stay. As the sole lodging facility in Supai Village with only 24 rooms, it sells out quickly. At present, the only way to reserve a room here is by phone at (928) 448-2111 or (928) 448-2201. If you get a constant busy signal, or the phone rings and rings and no one answers, that means the lodge is sold out for the foreseeable future. Rooms for the following year are made available June 1st, so if you’re planning that far ahead, set that date aside to be on the phone. As with campground reservations, it helps to have a few friends working a few phone lines on your behalf.
If you’re fortunate enough to get reservations for Supai Lodge or the campground, then plan the rest of your logistics around your trip dates, and enjoy!