When you think Arizona, usually the first image that comes to mind isn’t rushing waterfalls and crisp 70-degree streams. As odd as it may seem, Arizona boasts one of the most beautiful places in the world – Havasupai Falls.
Havasupai, which means “people of the blue-green waters”, is part of the Grand Canyon, which is a much more massive landmark than photos will lead you to believe. However, you can’t access the falls from the regular tourist destination. In fact, it is a four-hour drive from the Grand Canyon Village to the Havasupai trailhead, and Havasupai falls are not under the jurisdiction of the Grand Canyon National Park.
Havasu is located within the Havasupai Indian Reservation and is looked after by the Havasupai tribe. They handle all reservations for hikers and campers to visit the beautiful site. It is a sacred place to this native Arizonan tribe, so it is supremely important that visitors are respectful to both the people and the land.
Visiting Havasupai is no walk in the park, however, to see the falls requires a grueling 10-mile hike just to get to the campgrounds. The three waterfalls are then an additional hike. It is recommended to spend at least one night in the campgrounds, preferably 3 so you can adequately enjoy the experience.
If you are an experienced backpacker, the hike in will be a breeze. It is mostly flat from the trailhead at the Hualapai Hilltop to Supai, the village at the top of the falls. From Supai to the campground is 2 miles of a relatively steep downhill hike. Be sure to pack swim gear and extra socks for when you hike to the falls.
If you aren’t an experienced backpacker, you may not want to carry your gear for the long hike. Luckily the Havasupai tribe has options for you to send your belongings by helicopter to the Supai village, so you will only need to carry your belongings for a short while rather than a day-long hike.
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Once you make it to the campground, there are three waterfalls you need to see. Be aware that the water is always 72 degrees. In the hot summer months, this will feel incredibly refreshing. But in early spring or late fall, it may be too chilly to swim.
Havasu falls is a quick half mile from the campgrounds, and you will pass it on your hike down from Supai. The waterfall itself is over 100 feet high and dumps into a huge pool where you can swim, float, and explore. Kids and adults alike may enjoy jumping off the rocks and cliffs into the water below- just be careful, the water isn’t always as deep as it looks! The fall itself has changed due to flooding that happened in 2009, but the fall still stands and is as beautiful as ever.
This is the largest of the three waterfalls, reaching a huge 190 feed high. It is another half mile hike from the campground in the opposite direction of Havasu falls, but requires a little bit of rock climbing to get down to the base. There is a system of ladders, chains, and tunnels to get tourists from the top of the cliff to the bottom of the falls. It is much quieter here with less tourists and hikers, so it is a beautiful place to take a dip in the pool or sprawl out for lunch.
While Beaver Falls may be the farthest waterfall from the campground, it is worth the extra hike. When you get down to Mooney Falls, you continue on the trail for another 3 miles to get to the final waterfall. The hike itself is beautiful, taking you along the river and through the Vine Desert. The canyon is gorgeous and you will snap many breathtaking photos. When you get to the end, there is another series of ladders that will take you down to the base of the falls. Beaver Falls is more sprawling than Havasu or Mooney, and are the perfect place to swim around and jump in. Again, be careful where you are jumping- the water isn’t always as deep as it looks!
Havasupai is such a popular spot to travel that their spaces usually book quickly. If you want to experience the magic that is Havasupai, be sure to call or visit the Havasupai website to book your trip. I promise, you will want to go back!