Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
Ever since one of my friends talked about his adventure to a mystical oasis of turquoise waters in the Grand Canyon, I dreamt of visiting Havasu Falls.
Havasu Falls is a stunning waterfall in the Grand Canyon desert. The name Havasu comes from the native Indian Havasupai tribe, which means “people of the blue-green water” – a perfect description when you see the turquoise green waters. Recently we got a chance to visit Havasu Falls and we were not disappointed! The unique turquoise falls surrounded by the striking red rocks left us speechless with its beauty! Even though it’s not easy to hike there, this place is definitely worth a visit.
Here are some tips from our experience hiking Havasu and Mooney Falls:
1. Get reservations and permit to stay in the Supai Village.
Havasu Falls is truly breathtaking! However as with most spectacular things, going there is easier said than done!
You need a permit and need to make reservations well in advance to stay in the Supai village – either in the campgrounds or in the lodge – and these are notoriously difficult to get! Permits come available for reservations on February 1st of each year and fill up quickly for the entire year.
Hiking the falls is very popular over the summer months; try your luck during the cooler season. November to February is slightly cooler and relatively easier to get reservations. Also Because Havasu Creek is fed by a natural spring, the water temperature remains the same 70°F – year round. On the plus side, going during the cooler months means coming across fewer people and a chance to enjoy the magnificent falls to yourself.
Also persist and keep calling the tourist office or the lodge for last minute cancellations, as there are quite a few. We lucked out during thanksgiving and got reservations at the lodge after a couple of tries.
Please contact Havasupai Tourist Office for Entry and Camping Permits:
928-448-2121/ 928-448-2141/ 928-448-2180
Please contact Havasupai Lodge for lodge reservations at:
2. Start early!
The trail is long and dry! It is a 10-mile hike one way from Hualapai Hilltop to the falls with no water and little shade. Even though the trail is moderate and flat, the heat gets to you, especially in the summer months. Start early to avoid heat and fatigue.
We slept at a small lodge called Grand Canyon Caverns Inn in Peach Springs, which is in the nearest town from Hualapai Hilltop. If you are hiking during summer, consider sleeping in the parking lot and plan to begin your hike at first light/
Secondly, be sure to bring a lot of water/Gatorade. It will be even better if you get insulated bottles and fill it with cold water! Trust us, you will love it!
3. Go to Mooney Falls – it’s worth it!
A lot of people go to Havasu Falls and stop there and don’t venture any further. And amongst those that do, many falter and turn back when they see the path to Mooney Falls. The descent to the falls is literally vertical; you need to use a series of ladders, chains, and tunnels to get to the bottom. Not for those with fear of heights!
There were moments during our hike to Mooney Falls when I thought to myself, “Alright I am done, I am turning back.” But I continued with the group and boy am I glad that I did. The view was incredible! Mooney Falls is as gorgeous and beautiful as Havasu Falls.
Also know that once you reach down, the hardest part is done – climbing up is relatively easier than climbing down on this trek.
4. Get great hiking quality shoes.
Great quality shoes is a given during any hiking trip, but it is all more necessary for this trip – especially if you plan to hike to Mooney Falls. Mooney Falls is incredible, but the only way down the canyon is by climbing down through caves using rope chains, and ladders on a 200 ft. steep drop.
Don’t wear really low top shoes or hiking sandals, they’ll be full of gravel and uncomfortable. Also consider getting an extra pair of water shoes/sandals if you are planning to go to Beaver Falls, as you will wade through the river for some portions of the hike.
5. Get Band-Aids/tapes as you will get some kind of blisters – Sorry, but you will 🙁
No matter how good your shoes are, how much you have broken them in, you or somebody in your party will end up getting blisters on your feet. You might find some Band-Aid in the village store but don’t take that chance. Also consider getting some Motrin or painkillers, you might get sore!
6. If you are going to take a helicopter or a mule out of the canyons, talk to the tourist office the day before.
One of our group members fell sick and needed a ride up, out of the canyon. Trying to arrange for a mule was a mess and a total nightmare. Talk beforehand either at the lodge or the tourist office and confirm again in the morning as soon as the office opens. They don’t take reservations for helicopter ride beforehand, but still talk to them the evening before to know the specific logistics.