Hiking: Hidden Paradise in Havasupai

05/29/2017
Panda Berries

Paradise Comes Around But Once A Year

By Permit Only

The 1st of February may be an insignificant date for most but for the few who await paradise coming around once a year, this is the day when all adventurers attempt to reserve a camping permit for Havasupai.

Havasupai is a secluded area in the Grand Canyon and is home to astonishingly gorgeous blue-green waters.

Looking over Mooney Falls

While beautiful, getting there takes a lot of effort that discourages many people from going.  Obtaining permits to hike down and camp have been extremely difficult in the past.  Not to mention the 10 mile hike to the campgrounds with a 30-pound rucksack on your back.

View from the Hualapai Hilltop before descending down to Supai Village

By Permit Only

On the morning of February 1st, we tried dialing the number and were immediately met with a busy signal.  We tried for hours but to no avail.  After an exhausting day, we came across a post in a local hiking forum that mentioned online booking.  We were very skeptical in the beginning because for the past decade, they have only accepted phone reservations.  However, after seeing several posts of successful reservations; we managed to book one of the last spots in April before they took the website down for the remainder of the year.

Permits will sell out within the first few months of the year and desirable dates in the summer are gone within the first few weeks.  Guided tours are available from third party websites at around $1000 per person but they will have the permits and all necessary camping gear waiting for you at the campgrounds.

2017 Costs (per person):

Camping permit – $25 per night

Entrance Fee – $50

Environmental Fee – $10

10% Tax

 

The Trip

We were ecstatic to reserve a three-night stay for April.  To break apart our trip, we drove to Peach Springs in Arizona and stayed overnight before taking on the gruelling 10 mile hike to Supai Village and the campgrounds.  The Hualapai Hilltop (Havasupai Trailhead) is at the end of Indian Road 18, approximately 4 hours away from Las Vegas McCarran Airport or 4.5 hours away from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport by car.  We parked at the hilltop and began our journey down.

The trail to Supai Village

For the first 1.5 miles, there are several steep switchbacks with an elevation drop of approximately 2000 ft.  After the trail begins to flatten out, the next 6.5 miles is just following the dry river bed that will lead you to Supai Village.  The village is where the registration office is for the camping permits.  Once we received our wristbands, we began hiking another 2 miles to the campsite.

The trail to Supai Village

There are 5 major waterfalls to visit: Little Navajo, Fifty-Foot Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls.

The first three waterfalls can be seen before arriving to the campsite.

Fifty-Foot Falls

Little Navajo Falls

Havasu Falls

Descending down to Mooney Falls can be treacherous.  While there are chains and ladders to grasp onto, they are extremely slippery.

Descent down to Mooney Falls

Mooney Falls

After getting down to Mooney Falls, it is another 2 mile hike to Beaver Falls. The trail isn’t always clear and there are several river crossings.

Down at Beaver Falls, there are many shallow pools to wade in.

Beaver Falls

One of many beautiful river crossings to Beaver Falls

Shallow pools to swim in

On our last day we were worried about the strenuous hike back up but there are easier options such as horses, mules or a helicopter.  We opted for the helicopter because we have seen how poorly mistreated the horses and mules were.

However, we learned the hard way not to rely on the helicopter because it is a first come, first serve basis and they can stop flying people out at any moment due to strong winds.  We were next in line when they decided to stop flying out and we were forced to hike the 10 mile journey back up the valley.  The helicopter ride would have been $85 per person and payable by cash (credit card incurs an additional fee) right before you get on.

Being able to enjoy the scenic waterfalls and the blue-green waters, our trip to Havasupai was well worth all the effort.  We’ve already set a reminder to reserve for next year!

If you are interested in going on this trip and have other questions, please do not hesitate to ask in the comments section below.  We would love to help other people experience this amazing place!