Havasupai Falls Hike Overview
When the prospect to hike to one of the photographed outside locations in the world comes round, you need to say sure. So, when an in depth good friend reached out and stated she had two three-day permits to backpack into Havasupai, I requested when, how a lot, and put in my trip request instantly. We might spend three days climbing by way of superb canyons, downclimbing slick rock, swimming in travertine swimming pools, and consuming frybread on the banks of Havasu Creek.
The one and solely, Havasu Falls.
Havasupai, or Havasu Falls, is in a distant aspect gorge that flows into the Grand Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in northern Arizona. The world is among the most picturesque in the American Southwest as a result of its turquoise waters, hovering waterfalls, and the putting distinction between the tough desert and this lush oasis.
The hike into and out of the canyon is unforgiving, and makes the journey all-the-more rewarding to those that full the 20-mile round-trip hike. The most effective occasions of yr to go to Havasupai are spring and fall when the climate is good for snug morning climbing and afternoons spent in the cool water.
Havasupai is a dream vacation spot for a lot of, and I used to be past stoked to descend into the canyon.
Desk of Contents
Havasupa Falls Journey Particulars
Havasupai Permits and Reservations
Permits for Havasupai are solely out there by reservation forward of time. It’s a must to ebook on the reservation web site or by calling the customer workplace in Supai, Arizona. Reservations open at eight:00 a.m. Arizona Time on February 1 they usually go shortly. Just like the John Muir Path permits, hikers log onto the web site and name in by the a whole lot to guide reservations in the canyon. Velocity and good karma are your solely belongings in securing a allow and a spot in the campground.
Fortunately, my mountaineering associate was capable of safe our second selection itinerary for 3 days and two nights on Havasu Creek.
Havasupai Falls Path Report
My good good friend Mary and I had talked about mountaineering Havasupai since early 2017, and the plan was all the time to get to the canyon sooner or later. We had formally been hypnotized by Instagram: each outside blogger drools on the sight of Havasupai’s cerulean waters. When Mary texted me early one morning asking if I needed to be on her allow into the canyon, I don’t assume I ever typed so quick in my life. Sure!
Six weeks separated the allow buy day and day one of many hike, and it wasn’t till week 5 when two realizations set in:
- Yew! I’m going to Havasupai!
- Oh, shit. I haven’t ready in any respect.
Havasupai is a difficult hike. It’s 10 miles one-way to the one campground and requires an elevation lack of over 2,500 ft — you primarily descend to the underside of the Grand Canyon. This was about all the info I had. Sustaining my cool, I went into deep Google mode — researching our water wants, climate stories, blogs, and write ups on different hikers’ experiences. I run recurrently to maintain my cardio robust, however I knew the elevation loss and achieve can be brutal. I did a number of native hikes in Southern California with some weight in my pack and referred to as it good for the potential suffer-fest forward.
Packing for this journey took some critical thought. Late winter in the Grand Canyon space could be unpredictable. Storms can transfer in shortly, bringing the specter of floods and freezing temperatures. Alternately, warmth is all the time on the desk when high-pressure methods transfer in on the desert. I’m not an ultralight backpacker, and discovering the stability between weight and safety proved extra vexing than when planning my extra frequent journeys into the mountains.
A considerably condensed gear unfold.
It was simply the 2 of us, Mary and myself, so we opted for the environment friendly Huge Agnes Copper Spur UL2 three-season backpacking tent. Supai Village (the small group in the canyon) luckily has a climate station and we knew the highs can be in higher 60s and lows in the 40s: best backpacking climate.
I packed the Western Mountaineering SummerLite 32-degree down sleeping bag and the Exped Synmat Hyperlite MW for my sleep system. The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody and Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip-Neck Prime and Bottoms rounded out my nighttime apparel for holding the coolness away. The Optimus Crux is my favourite backpacking canister range, and I partnered it with the Optimus Weekend HE cookset, which is ideal for 2 individuals boiling water or getting ready one-pot meals. To haul all of it right down to the underside of the canyon, I used my trusted Osprey Atmos 50L which continues to carry out like a dream.
After finalizing my package and loading up the automotive, I drove from Ventura, CA to Phoenix, AZ over two days, stopping close to Joshua Tree Nationwide Park to sleep in my automotive on the aspect of the street (sorry mother). I arrived in Phoenix later that afternoon and settled at Mary’s condominium close to Arizona State College.
A quick in a single day in Joshua Tree set the tone for the journey.
Mary had the abdomen flu. In fact she did.
Fortunately, Mary bounced again shortly from the 24-hour bug, and we went to the grocery retailer to load up on provisions for the three-day journey. Oatmeal, nut butters, bagels, summer time sausage, cheese, dried fruit, nuts, and crunchy snacks made up the standard path meals suspects. Upon returning to Mary’s effectivity studio condo, our gear exploded onto each floor as we went about finalizing our kits earlier than departing the subsequent day. It’s all the time enjoyable (and slightly annoying) packing with a good friend and evaluating kits, giving recommendation, and making sacrifices collectively.
Laying out the gear. In case you’re mountaineering with companions, ensure you don’t duplicate gear, and go over your communal gadgets beforehand.
Grand Canyon Views
We left early on Monday morning to get a head begin on the 5-hour drive to Hualapai Hilltop, and the surroundings alongside the street was beautiful. Once we arrived on the lip of the canyon, our jaws dropped. Even for those who’ve been to the Grand Canyon, little can put together you for the view you obtain at Hualapai Hilltop: spectacular.
Even superb footage don’t fairly do it simply. Hualapai Hilltop is breathtaking.
We settled into the crowded parking zone and erected a tent between our two automobiles. The closest campground to Hualapai Hilltop that’s accessible by car is over two hours south of the parking space, so most individuals sleep in their automobiles or pitch tents in no matter flat spot is obtainable. We felt protected sufficient, though my sideview mirror was damaged off once we returned to our automobiles. Break-ins sometimes occur at Hualapai Hilltop, so depart your valuables at residence and lock your car!
Chilling earlier than the large day. Typically a sundown is all you want.
The night time was cool and delicate on the canyon rim. We woke with the solar, hungry for breakfast, able to hit the path. We crammed up on oatmeal and occasional, hoisted our packs, and commenced our descent into the earth. We misplaced over 1,000 internet ft of elevation in the primary two miles alone. I’ve to climb up this on the best way out… I assumed to myself as we navigated switchback after switchback.
Regardless of the switchbacks, there’s a sure pleasure in backpacking.
The path itself is well-maintained and straightforward to comply with with no map, and we made it surprisingly shortly to the ground of Hualapai Canyon. After descending from the sprawling higher canyon, we dipped right into a narrower slot canyon with red-orange sandstone partitions towering over us. Some individuals really feel claustrophobic in canyons. I, nevertheless, felt snug with the cool canyon partitions hugging me intently as we dropped deeper and deeper into the strata of the plateau.
We noticed our first cottonwood timber by way of the canyon: a positive signal of the seasonal waterways that nurture these beings in such an uncompromising setting. Willows, grasses, moss, and ferns appeared at seeps in the rock partitions. Life discovered refuge, even right here.
Trekking on the ground of Hualapai Canyon.
The path continued, vast and clear. I gazed on the water-smoothed stones, when, all the sudden, we heard it: thunder in the space. Nearer. Louder. On prime of us. However, no clouds in the sky. Ripping round a bend in the canyon’s course a staff of eight mules led by a person on a gorgeous horse kicked up mud and rocks. We flattened ourselves into close by brush and watched in amazement because the mules galloped via the canyon.
The providers of the canyon’s residents and their pack animals can be found to convey your gadgets into and out of the canyon for a charge, in case you don’t need to hike it in and out your self. The opposite choice is by helicopter: one other sort of thunder discovered in the canyon. A helicopter runs repeatedly forwards and backwards from Supai Village to Hualapai Hilltop, shuttling residents, vacationers, and their respective provides. The whirlybird does shatter the tranquility a bit, and it isn’t how I might need to expertise the canyon. To every their very own.
Reaching the Backside
We began to listen to one other sound upon arriving at a vibrant emerald wall of cottonwood timber. We’d lastly reached the junction with Havasu Canyon and its namesake creek. The air was recent and full of the odor of flowing water and the power it brings to the desert. We have been getting shut.
Encountering this after descending 2,500 ft is just a bit beautiful.
We got here throughout a fenced-in ranch that signaled our entrance into Supai Village. Following the parade of hikers, we arrived on the customer middle workplace to check-in earlier than heading to the campground two extra miles down the path. We knew the campground was a further stroll from the workplace, nevertheless it felt like an eternity ending these two last miles. As soon as we noticed Havasu Creek, although, that fatigue become awe and pure pleasure.
Meandering previous Fifty Foot Falls and Havasu Creek under us, our jaws dropped to the purple dust. I by no means thought the water might be that blue in individual. I assumed that filters and Photoshop witchcraft have been clearly concerned. I used to be fallacious.
The canyon narrowed as we approached Havasu Falls. The roar of falling water and trails of mist crammed the air — we stood transfixed.
Havasu Falls and Creek. A website for sore ft.
Absorbing the wonderland earlier than us, we lastly arrived in the campground and commenced the seek for our campsite. Mary did far more analysis than I had, and she or he revealed that the perfect campsites have been throughout the creek and away from the crowded side-by-side websites. We mounted a log strewn throughout the creek and ended up at a dreamy creekside campsite nestled towards cottonwoods and willows.
A reasonably remoted, creekside campsite is the best way to go. As soon as the tent is about up it’s time to dry out your moist and smelly garments. That includes the Huge Agnes Copper Spur UL2.
Unable to relaxation for even a second, we turned into our sandals and headed again up the path to seek out ourselves a waterfall. The decrease cascades which create Navajo Falls have been crowded with individuals and low cost inflatable floaties. We scooted alongside a barely-visible path towards a rock outcropping and located the actual gem: Fifty Foot Falls. A single household and a gaggle of younger locals have been wading in the shallow pool accented by a wall of crashing water.
Fording Havasu Creek, the place the waters are blue, the rocks are pink, and the brilliant inexperienced of life comes as a shock.
The magic continued even after sundown, as we settled in for our first night time underneath a slender strip of sensible stars formed by the undulating partitions of Havasu Canyon.
Waterfalls Value Climbing To
The next morning we had a fast breakfast of oatmeal and occasional, and loaded up our day packs for our hike to the subsequent grouping of falls: Mooney and Beaver Falls. When you assume stepping into the canyon was an journey, then the hike to Mooney and Beaver Falls is an epic in only a couple miles.
Sure, it would be best to put together for some small areas. On the best way to Mooney Falls.
The trail winds from the canyon backside to the highest of the cliff over which Mooney Falls crashes. We knew there can be some ladders, however we didn’t know we needed to climb down by means of caves and down slippery, mist-slickened hand holds polished by many years of repetitive use. With a couple of deep breaths we descended the chains and ladders to the underside of the cliff. It was straightforward to overlook in that second that we needed to climb again up.
Climbing ladders like that is simply a part of the journey on the best way to Mooney Falls.
Our worry pale again to wonderment as we have been bombarded with the bathe of Mooney Falls — a 190-foot fall draped in moss and long-dry calcite deposits. We stopped and took numerous pictures earlier than shifting down path in the direction of Beaver Falls.
The beautiful waterworks of the Havasupai hike. Navajo Falls on the left, Mooney Falls on the fitting.
After ascending and descending a number of extra ladders and quietly observing a bighorn sheep simply off the path, we missed Beaver Falls. Step after step of white travertine surrounded by azure swimming pools and shaded by cottonwood timber: paradise.
We spent the subsequent few hours consuming our lunch, taking in the solar, dozing with the white noise of the water. The solar turned scorching and the water referred to as to us for a dip. A brand new good friend we met whereas climbing took footage of us and we returned the favor. Did it have to finish?
Mooney Falls on the Left. A lot later, a soaked selfie on the best way out of the canyon.
We saddled again up and commenced our return to camp. Solar-kissed and smiling we noticed one other feminine bighorn with a spring lamb watching us calmly by way of the cacti and vines. One other reminder of the plentiful life delivered to this place by Havasu Creek.
Bighorn Sheep and delightful timber are all too widespread right here.
Exhausted, we stumbled into camp for a nap and a few quiet time, adopted by Indian fry bread on the meals stand setup underneath a tent on the backside of Havasu Canyon. (Yeah, there are meals stands in the canyon!)
Sleep got here and went shortly, and we woke to a cold, overcast morning: a stark distinction to the final two days of sunshine and swimming. We broke camp and packed up shortly to get a head begin on the day — there was a great probability of rain.
The journey out of the canyon was difficult as we struggled to regain that 2,500 ft of elevation whereas climbing by means of driving wind, rain, and temperatures in the 30s. Hualapai Hilltop got here into view after a number of hours and plenty of laughs, regardless of the strenuous hike. The hike up is tough, I gained’t lie, however it’s made sweeter by the reminiscences made in the canyon.
When fascinated by our journey to Havasupai, I wouldn’t change something, besides perhaps extending the journey to the utmost 4 days permitted by the nation. I might have appreciated to hike to the Colorado River, ten further miles north of the Havasupai campground, to see the confluence of the streams. However the climate on our third day was poor anyway, in order that additional day might have been spent holed up in our tents out of worry of flash flooding upstream.
One other facet of the journey does, nevertheless, give me pause. Keep in mind: Havasupai is an Indian reservation. The Havasupai, or “People of the Blue-Green Water”, have reportedly lived in this space for over 800 years. It’s arduous to not really feel like an intruder once you stroll by means of the village of Supai after which arrange camp on the banks of their native stream. The historical past of the creation of the earliest American nationwide parks is certainly one of displacement and at occasions violence in the identify of preserving lovely locations. The Havasupai have been remoted in this canyon by the USA authorities in the course of the institution of Grand Canyon Nationwide Park, and it may be straightforward to overlook the troubled backdrop to this most lovely place.
The previous looms giant, however the current poses challenges as properly. There have been reviews of the pack mules who shuttle gear being overworked and showing to be in poor situation. Most of the yards in Supai are suffering from trash, however I couldn’t inform if it was the refuse of vacationers or locals. Like many American Indian nations, well being issues proceed to be a priority, and the continued menace of uranium mining and different damaging extractive industries threaten the Havasupai’s residence and lifestyle. Tourism is a vital a part of the Havasupai financial system and helps to help the group, however is sufficient being achieved to make sure the advantages of visiting dollars are usually not outweighed by the prices of American expansionism?
Regardless of my reflections, I might completely advocate the hike to Havasupai. It’s attainable and important to journey to this place with respect for the individuals and the land.
Contemplative earlier than and after the hike. Havasupai meant so much.
Lastly, this journey in specific got here at a time in my life once I wanted it most. I separated from my associate of over seven years 4 months previous to the canyon, and was nonetheless recovering from the Thomas Hearth: the most important wildfire in trendy California historical past, which devastated my house county. Not solely was my house, my pals, and my employer threatened and disrupted, a few of my favourite native wild locations have been ravaged by hearth and mudslides or closed off resulting from potential risks. I had gone 4 months with out backpacking, the longest I’ve gone in the final 5 years. I used to be nonetheless sitting in a state of melancholy and fog when Mary invited me to hike Havasupai, and I can’t thank her sufficient for her timing, intentional or in any other case.
I’m not many issues. I’m not a runner. I’m an individual who runs. I’m not a foodie. I’m an individual who eats rather a lot. However, I’m a backpacker, and I’m most alive when I’ve a pack on my again and dust beneath my ft. Havasupai reignited my love for this exercise that has develop into a ardour and an obsession, and I’m so grateful to this place for restoring my spirit after some of the difficult occasions of my life.
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