The Ultimate Guide to Havasupai

Travis Gneiting Adventure

A five star hotel, or sleeping under the stars? If you’re reading this, then you’d prefer adrenaline running through your veins over that third glass of Chardonnay. The oasis of the desert, the secret of the grand canyon, Havaspai is paradise. An world renown waterfall located in a remote canyon of Arizona, the amazing Havasu Falls are surreal.  National Geographic called Havasu Falls one of the most magnificent natural wonders of the world.

Oasis of the Grand Canyon: Havasupai Falls

Havasu falls is the ultimate jewel in an otherwise desolate desert. One of the most well-known waterfalls in the world, these crystal blue cascading falls are the crowning glory of a 10 mile long hot and dry hike under the Arizona sun. A picture speaks a thousand words, but maybe some action shots of this waters in motion will wet your appetite:

This hike is not for amateurs or for the faint of heart.  The difficult hike through the canyon labyrinth can take 5-7 hours (ONE WAY) in sweltering heat with little protection (let us rephrase that) no protection, from the blazing sun.  The trail is approximately 8 miles (13 km) long to Supai, with an extra 2 miles (3.2 km) added on in order to reach the campgrounds, and descends some 3000 vertical feet (914 m). Now don’t be swayed, it is well worth the effort. You will be greeted with fields of green, jungles of exotic vegetation, pools of turquoise water and some of the worlds most famous waterfalls that are only experienced by the worlds most adventurous hikers.  Welcome to the worlds elite.  An AWESOME vimeo video portrays what to expect from the hike in to the green waters afterwards. Enjoy the great soundtrack and amazing view:

http://vimeo.com/54236902

Swimming, Sunbathing, cliff jumping, or just lounging on the red sand beaches.  You will also find or relax in hammocks overlooking this desert oasis. Tranquil Turquoise Blue Water – Havasu Falls has everything a resort has to offer minus the margaritas.

Havasupai Welcome to the World’s Elite
Havasupai Welcome to the World's Elite

Havasupai Welcome to the World’s Elite

We are here to guide you through the hike.  We’ve been there, time and again – through high flows and low. Through the sweltering heat and the cold nights. The desert offers little mercy until you meet the Garden of Eden – HAVASU FALLS. If you have been there too – please share your adventure & leave a comment.  As for the rest – here is your ultimate guide to Havasupai:

What is Havasupai?
Havasupai means “People of the blue-green water”.  The pool’s bright blue color comes from high levels of magnesium in the water.  Havasupai is an Indian Reservation has seemed to change little over the decades.  In fact, and it is the only place in the US where mail is carried by pack mules.  While you are there – be sure to mail some post cards to your friends and family! You will get a kick out of the postage stamps they will see when the post cards arrive.  The Havasu Creek is the life blood of the Havasupai tribe and their main source of tourism dollars.

Havasupai Indian Reservation

Mail a post card, carried by pack mules

Mail a post card, carried by pack mules

This picturesque attraction is found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon near Supia, Arizona. Getting to the falls is a 10-mile hike from the Hualapai Hilltop.  Part of what makes the hike so difficult, is there is little protection from the from the blazing Arizona sun. Let us rephrase that – NO PROTECTION. Yet by the end, the beautiful turquoise pools and spectacular waterfalls are well worth the work.

However, if you aren’t up to trekking all of your gear, you can hire a mule (yes – a MULE!) or hitch a ride on a helecopter from Hualapai Hilltop to Supai village. Yet – no bragging rights if you do that.

You can Hire a Pack Mule or Horse to carry your pack, IF YOU’RE A ROOKIE!

Gearchase 90% Off Outdoor Gear Grand canyon

Havasupai Hire a Packing Mule

Getting There
Driving Directions to  Havasupai Trailhead:

The trail to Supai village starts at Hualapai hilltop (FYI so services there, don’t show up empty handed or with an empty gas tank). You can’t access it by road. Here is the scoop:

If you take Interstate 40:
– Turn North onto Historic Route 66
-Take Exit 53 and drive 45 minutes northeast OR take the Seligman exit and drive northwest 28 miles
-turn north onto Indian State Secondary Road 18 once you reach a small sign pointing to Supai
-Drive 64 miles on a paved road northeast to the end of the road at the large Hualapai Hilltop parking area.
-Nearby you will find the Havasupai Trailhead

Havasupai Trail Map & Guide

8F_Havasupai_Trail_Map

Hitting the Trail

When you first set out from the dirt parking area,  the trail takes a steep drop off down the sandstone.  Be prepared for switchbacks that cut into the cliff.  An excruciating climb back up at the very end – we’ve seen people crying on the way back up (true story). You will be greeted with a friendly sign: DESCEND  AT OWN RISK. See what we mean?  Don’t bring your scout troop or a bunch of crap that you don’t need. This is a serious hike for conditioned trekkers. As for safety, there are chains at the steepest sections of the hike. And yes, you do have to climb down this hole, so leave the twinkies at home.

Havasupai Welcome to the World's Elite

Havasupai Welcome to the World’s Elite

Hiking Safety Havasupai hiking difficulty advanced

Hiking Safety Havasupai hiking difficulty advanced

After just 1 mile, it the trail has dropped 2000 feet into the dry river bottom that carved out the Hualapai Canyon. Prepare for the sweltering heat, as you will have no shade or protection from the sun for the first 3 miles.  Bring water, sunscreen, and coverup. You don’t want a nasty sunburn to ruin the rest of your trip.  For the next 5.5 miles, the trail follows soft sloping swish as the canyon washes down red layers of Supai sandstone that.  You won’t see rock this red anywhere else.  Against the turquoise waters, the sandstone screams red under the desert sun. After you finish the 5.5 miles, at 3250 feet, you reach the end of Hualapai Canyon where it meets Havasu Canyon. Here the you will notice the bottom of the canyon changes as a rushing river seeps up from the ground at Havasu Springs.

Hualapai Grand Canyon Bottom Trail

Hualapai Grand Canyon Bottom Trail

Trail Distances
Hiking mileage between milestones of the Havasupai Trail
Hualapai Hilltop to Campgrounds 10 miles
Hualapai Hilltop to Supai 8 miles
Supai to Campgrounds 2 miles
Supai to New Waterfalls ~1 mile
Campgrounds to Mooney Falls .5 mile
Campgrounds to Beaver Falls 4 miles
Campgrounds to Colorado River 8 miles

Turning downstream alongside the riverbed, rest of the Havasu Falls trail is beneath the cooling shade of cottonwood and willow trees.  Assuming you have done your homework and have a permit (see below!).   The falls are just 2 miles from the village.  The cascading blue waters plunge over 150 ft into the tourquise pool below where you can swim, see exotic flowers blooming off the cliff rocks and exotic foliage growing around the pools waters. This is your reward, capture the moment – because you will want to relive it the rest of your life.

If you want to hike on to beaver falls, you will venture through fields of wild grapes growing over 6 feet tall. Sight for sore eyes, you won’t see anything like this ever again. How to get to Beaver falls? Keep hiking until you see the Palm Tree. Yes, we said palm tree. We told you it was an oasis.

Grape vines wild

Wild Grape Vines

 

Havasupai Beaver Falls

Havasupai – New Falls forms resulting from Flood Damages in 2008

GET YOUR PERMIT

Given the spectacular attraction, you can bet thousands of the worlds most hardcore hikers are knocking off their bucket list each year. A limited number of permits are allotted each year – SO PLAN AHEAD. You need to plan at LEAST ONE YEAR IN ADVANCE!!! Do you hear us?  This is not Disney Land.  You can’t just go at a whims notice. This is for the elite. Yet maybe being on a waiting list isn’t a bad thing, it gives you time to get physically fit an conditioned.

How to get a permit? Reservations and camping permit information can be found at the Grand Canyon National Park website or by calling (928-448-2121) or (928-448-2141). Havasupai lodging information can be found here or by calling (928-448-2111) or (928-448-2201).

Permission to Camp

Before you set up camp, register at the Supai tourist office in the middle of the village. Trust us, you will love going through the village. Pick up some souvenirs – and mail some post cards to your friends and family. You can say they were carried by pack mules!Camping outside of the Havasu campground is strictly forbidden.

Check the forecast before you journey, you might not need a tent. Remember, the less you pack – the less you have to carry. Plus – nothing better than sleeping under the stars!

Some of the wildlife you might see includes bighorn sheep, Gila monsters, and rare bird species including peregrine falcons.

History – Flash Flood Damage

In August 2008 there was a major flash flood that ravaged Havasu Canyon and caused major destruction. Many changes have occurred as a result of the flood. Fortunately no human lives were lost, yet the falls have changed dramatically. Camp grounds were flattened, vegetation was washed away and pools of turquoise waters were swept down the canyon and left dry.  Navajo Falls was destroyed, and two brand new waterfalls were created, and are unofficially called “New Navajo Falls” and “Rock Falls”. Both are can be found about a mile past Supai.  Yet don’t be dismayed or swayed – flooding is a natural cycle and a part of what created the canyons in the first place. It happens over time and soon Havasu Falls, and as of 2013 – the place looks fantastic and you wouldn’t notice the difference.

Your ultimate guide to Havasupai. Driving directions, trail guide, pictures, Indian reservation, permit information. Guided tours are available, but you will find that your are hiking right along side the people who trekked there themselves (as the trails are very narrow for the most of the way). So do your research beforehand and see if you really want to spend the money or do your homework and rent the mules yourself. they are available throughBrought to you by: http://www.gearchase.com/

All in all Havisupai is the hike – so add it to your bucket list and plan your next trip!

Havasupai Worth the Hike

Havasupai Worth the Hike

 

References: National Geographic – Natural Wonder of the World: http://www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/expeditions/grand-canyon-hiking/detail