We begun our decent down the switchbacks and into the limestone-sandstone gradient. Slowly, the sandstone started becoming increasingly abundant until the canyon was filled with a burnt red rock. Amazing huge rocks! Rocks shaped like waves! Rocks that tell time and tell a story traced by water. The more we descended down and the canyon walls got taller, thats when it hit that this trip was so much more than seeing the blue-green paradise that waited below. This landscape was incredible and the lush environment reminded us of what it meant to be alive!
Once we had obtained our permits, we knew that we had made it. As we continued hiking down further past the village and back into the wilderness, we were joined by a mixed breed dog that playfully chased lizards and leaves as he guided us down the dusty trail. Stacie named him George and the name stuck. At every look out, our new acquainted friend slowed and sat as if he were telling us....look here, this is the spot. Within the four days here, we would meet and name another four dogs that would hang out with us on the trail and at our campsite.
Once we joined some members of our group at a secluded camp ground across the river and across a bridge (thanks Kelsey and Tyler), we knew we were home. The next three days we celebrated by enduring (sorta kind of) treacherous hikes (but nothing too bad) along the picturesque canyon walls, playing in the cool crystal clear blue-green waters, exploring side canyons, learning about ancient geology, admiring the lush flora and fauna, and being mesmerized by the power of the six waterfalls. Although difficult, we had to come to terms that this paradise was only to be enjoyed by us temporarily, but will always be ingrained in our memories.
Advice to Making Reservations and Numbers:
Calling the Supai Camping Office is the only way to make a reservation & now ONLINE! (See Update Below). Hiking 8 miles down to Supai Village to try to make a reservation is a no go and not a good idea. The reservation office has 4 lines you can call once reservations for camping spots open every year on February 1st. These numbers are:
It was very difficult to get in and get our spot. It was with a lot of luck, good timing, and persistence that we were able to get through on the lines and get our spots for mid-September. September is a GREAT time to go to Havasupai. I've heard September and May are two of the best months to go. In order to get in, I had to research Redialing phone apps and how to call in to radio shows and win giveaways. It actually worked!
Tip 1: Call on a Landline
Cell phones have a hangup lag time. It's really not that efficient to redial on a cell phone and takes too long. I got in to the camping office by calling and redialing on one line (2121) over and over again from 9AM-3PM. I finally got into the line sometime in the morning when everyone else isn't calling and keeping the phone lines busy.
Tip 2: Ask Questions!
Don't forget to write down what to ask, what you need, how much the reservations are, etc. When I got in I was so excited I forgot to confirm my reservation number (which was a problem later) and confirm my reservation size, which was 20.
Tip 3: Things have changed!
The Supai camping office has changed its prices. For us to go in 2016, it was $32/night + 10% tax. Now it is $85/night + 10% tax. You also have to pay when you make reservations instead of paying down at the office in Supai village. There are no refunds, so make sure the people in your group are 100% going.
These were the prices when we went in 2016:
Prices: Campground • $35.00 per person – Entrance Permit • $17.00 per person/per night – Campground Fee • $5.00 per person – Environmental Care Fee Transportation • $187 – Round Trip on Horseback * • $93.50 – One way trip to or from camp * • $85.00 per person – Helicopter Service/one way *****The mules can hold up to 4 bags each/130 lbs total and if you want to arrange for some, you need to reserve them a week in advance of your reservation date.
New Prices as of 2017:
• $50.00 per person – Entrance Permit • $25.00 per person/per night – Campground Fee • $10.00 per person – Environmental Care Fee
Gear We (Reed and I) Brought (Including Camera Equipment):
*****“Regardless of the length of your stay in Havasupai Falls, you will want to keep your backpack as light as possible. Hiking 10 miles in the heat with a 40 pound backpack is not fun, I learned this the hard way. While you are packing your bag, be conscious of how much weight each item is adding to your pack. I would recommend trying to keep your pack under 35 pounds.”
This list is a general comprehensive list, and I change some things up depending on location and weather. Many of these things are definitely optional. Reed carried some things, I carried some things. Lots of this stuff you can get for cheap or even rent.
Backpack (lightweight, 20 - 70L) (we brought 50L bags on this trip)
Backpacking Pillow (Optional)
Highly Absorbant Camp Towel
Hydration Bladder (3 L) ( I would bring at least 2-3L)
Water Bottles (1 L Nalgene Lightweight Bottles)
Water Filter/Accessories (I brought one just in case. We didn't use it and we didn't get sick drinking water out of their natural fern spring)
Bag for Food/Paracord (The squirrels down in the canyon are adept little things. Tie your food up in a good spot! We used a PVC water proof bag and we're the only ones at our campsite that didn't have a problem, however, we did get a small hole bitten through it.)
Jet Boil/Propane (Camp stove is necessary since no camp fires are allowed in the Campground)
Iodine Tablets (Always good to bring)
Trash Bags (I use ziplock bags, so everyone can carry out their own trash individually)
Tent Lights/Fairy Lights (I use those string fairy lights. They're cheap, they're lightweight, and they work forever.)
First Aid Kit/Drugs
I've learned to NOT bring a lot of clothes because every time I bring clothes, I always bring more than I need. Just bring some Biodegradable soap to wash up and some clothes line to dry them to keep your clothes fresh. (I use Dr. Bronners peppermint soap because the peppermint is pretty strong and makes everything nice and fresh smelling. You can also use it for everything else. Washing the camp stove, washing your hair, washing your skin, washing clothes, brushing your teeth, and so on.)
Hiking Socks/Wool Socks
Long Sleeve Shirt
Short Sleeve Shirt
Rain Cover/Rain Jacket
Soft OR Hard Shell
Hiking Shoes (Make sure to wear them in, if they are new before hiking in and out. Good tip: Find and know your hot spots when hiking and put on mole skin before you start your hike. This will help keep blisters at bay.)
Socks (I layer my wool injinji toe socks and my medium REI/Smartwool boot socks. I have found this helps with blisters and the first layer of socks helps wick away moisture.)
Chacos (I have the Z/2 sandals and so far love them! I've learned to keep the straps fitting fairly loose, so rocks don't get in and you can slide your foot in and out when your feet swell. Once you find a good fit, you won't have to adjust them since they become harder to adjust when they get wet for the first time.)
Extra Optional Things: (No Fires Allowed in Campground)
The night before the decent:
Many people camp out near the parking lot or in their cars the day before the hike, so they can wake up early to hike the day of. We did this and it worked out well. We woke up early to hike in and beat the heat since Arizona gets really hot. The canyon is hotter as you descend. As an Arizonan, I highly recommend any non-Arizonans to bring more water than they think they'll need, hike early (4-6am), and avoid getting sun burnt!
Distances: Hualapai Hilltop to Supai: 8 miles - 13 kilometers Supai to campground: 2 miles - 3 kilometers Hualapai Hilltop to campground: 10 miles - 16 kilometers Campground to Mooney Falls: 0.5 miles - 0.8 kilometers Mooney Falls to Colorado River: 8 miles - 13 kilometers
-They have the best bathrooms I've ever seen! They're composting toilets, super clean, they don't stink, they're insulated pretty well, and they fit into the environment.
-Our group was a group of 14, most people planned to fly out. The helicopter didn't leave until later on in the morning. They take Supai locals first and then will fly tourists out. We left our bags with some of our friends and paid $25 for our bags to fly out, so we didn't have to carry them out. (Worth it, except once we hiked up the switch backs we still waited about 2 hours for our friends and our bags).
-Dogs are allowed, but they have to be really well-behaved and carry out their poop. I've heard in order to bring your pups, you need to ask the tribe permission beforehand.
****“Hydration Bladder – This is the single most important item to have on your trip! You will be hiking over 8 miles in the heat without a water station, so having at least a 2 liter hydration bladder is a must! An antimicrobial bladder by Camelbak or Osprey with a 2-3 liter capacity should do the trick.”
-My friend Marci brought up a good point about bringing books about the history, culture of supai village and havasuapi in general.
There are so many amazing, beautiful areas along the Havasu Creek! We camped for 3 nights and spent 4 days in the canyon. We spent 2 of those days hiking in and out. I feel like it was a good amount of time to see everything, although we didn't see Hidden Falls on our last day, but we could've saved time to fit that in. We spent a lot of time at 50 Foot Falls and Mooney Falls. If you're confused about where some of these falls are, ask some of the locals. They were super helpful and nice.
Havasu Falls if of off the main trail and you pass it before you get to the campgrounds. It is 2 miles from Supai Village and off to the right. Once you get there, there is an amazing view from the side of it! Don't forget to stop and take pictures. The dog that hiked in with us, AKA George, stopped and rested as if he knew we would stop there. He was so used to hiking with people and stopping there, he stopped like as if to say, "Here, look here, it's amazing. I'll just take a little rest while you guys look."
Mooney Falls is exactly about a mile from Havasu Falls. The campground start a little down from Havasu Falls. The campgrounds range about a mile in and out of some really beautiful areas that make the perfect camp sites. At the end of the campsites you will come to the top of Mooney, where you can then descend 'at your own risk' down through the cave, down the ladders and chains to see Mooney form the bottom, which is way worth it and not that bad! Just be careful and go at your own pace.
Once you reach Mooney Falls, Beaver Falls is another ... miles. From Havasu it is... From wherever you camp it could be ... or ... It's a incredible hike that goes through the most amazing sections of the canyon and winds through blackberry bushes. We even saw some young Big Horn Sheep! The hike was so worth it! Beaver Falls is also incredibly beautiful! Some people give advice and which way to go to get to beavers form the "Date Palm", a non-native palm that was grown there back in ..... from .... eating date palms. Once you get there, it doesn't really matter which way you go to get to Beaver. You can cross the creek to get to Beaver faster and go down the rock face, where there is some rope to grab onto. The other way is up some ladders, where you can look down onto Beaver from atop the canyon before you get down to its oasis. We took this way in, and the other way out.
50 Foot Falls
50 Foot Falls was one of the first waterfalls we saw hiking in before seeing Havasu. You come across an opening after walking about a mile from Supai Village. You can see Navajo Falls and behind it, you can see an even taller 50 Foot Falls. These Falls are also worth hiking too! When hiking down to the campground keep your eye open for some trails to the left. Either of these trails will take you to these falls. A trail further down from those trails, will take you to Hidden Falls, which is where a lot of people like to cliff jump.
Navajo Falls has a good spot to cliff jump and it's fun to go back behind the waterfall. The trail to get here is off to the left when coming from the village.
We didn't make it to Hidden Falls this last trip, but I've heard that Hidden Falls is the place to go if you want to go cliff jumping. The trail begins to the left after passing Navajo falls.
Mine Behind Havasu Falls
If you hike behind Havasu Falls for about 15 minutes in the canyon, there is an old mine that is up to the right of the canyon. We went in and explored for a bit. We found a ton of really pretty yellowish and clear calcite. Our geology friends from Superior showed us some galena. Definitely worth it!