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Havasu Falls - Havasupai

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Havasu Falls - Havasupai

When Is the Best Time 

'Absolutely Stunning!' One of the most enchanting places on earth you'll ever visit! In this comprehensive guide, we cover everything. One tip in advance: A great time for hiking and enjoying the scenery with slightly fewer crowds is early spring and late autumn. However, the falls are accessible year round and you should visit whenever you are able to reserve a campsite spot or the lodge.  Scroll down for 2019 reservation and permit (including new prices) updates, as well as tips and details for the helicopter ride, camping, and the lodge at the end of this guide!


The mesmerizing falls

Quick tips if you read this in early February 2019: 

  • Already made a successful reservation? Then we highly recommend booking the night before at Hualapai Lodge or Grand Canyon Caverns Inn (bookmark the link!). Book as fast as possible before no rooms are left for your date. The lodge is in high demand! This is a 1.5 hours drive only to the trailhead from both: Google Maps Hualapai Lodge > Trailhead or Google Maps Grand Canyon Caverns Inn > Trailhead. See #8 and #9 in the sticky note below. Why do this? The trailhead is in the middle of nowhere. You need to get there by car and driving a long distance from any bigger town is too strenuous. Staying at the only accommodation nearby means you can start the hike relaxed in the morning. Read more in our guide below!
  • Haven't made a campsite reservation yet? Create an account (see below) on their website. As of early February, there are still spots available throughout this month! Check our season guide below. We think February can be a great choice! It's also possible that others want to transfer/sell their reservations. This is possible in 2019 but only allowed through their official system. You can check for others who want to 'sell' on their official Facebook Group: Havasupai Transfers. Don't ask anywhere else or take offers anywhere else! It's not allowed.


No time to read our full guide below? Want to make a campsite reservation for 2019? These are the must-know quick tips:

  1. Create an account at www.havasupaireservations.com, which you probably already did
  2. Why create an account? This year campsite reservations are only(!) possible with an online account. No phone calls, no emails!
  3. Log in to your account on Friday, February 1 before 8 a.m. Arizona Time. Couldn't make it? Log in as soon as you can on this day or in early February. (maybe a few spots are left) It seems as if it took most users between 20 minutes and 2 hours of refreshing the website until they were able to start the reservation on February 1. 
  4. Then select the number of persons (max 12)
  5. Select your start date. Be quick and flexible since thousands of others are trying to make a reservation at the same time. Summer months will be sold out first as usual
  6. How long to stay? This year it's fixed: 3 nights (4 days). No more, no less
  7. The total price for the 3 nights is between $300 and $375 per person (weekends nights cost slightly more than nights during the week)
  8. Immediately(!) after you made your campsite reservation, book this place to stay the night before: Hualapai Lodge (save/bookmark the link!). Be quick after you made the campground reservation before no rooms are left for your desired date. It's in high demand as it's the closest place where you can (and should) spend the night before your hike.  Why?  You cannot hike this trail in the boiling midday heat! And even in slightly cooler early spring or late fall an overnight stay before is highly recommended. It's only a 1.5 hours drive (>directions via Google Maps) to the trailhead (or helipad) from the Hualapai Lodge
  9. Alternative to #8: Stay at the 'Grand Canyon Caverns Inn' the night before.  It's also only a 1.5 hours drive to the trailhead (> directions via Google Maps). Save the link and book your night immediately after your campsite reservation: Grand Canyon Caverns Inn
  10. In case you had an issue with a campsite reservation process, please email  support@havasupaireservations.com. They promise to get things fixed for you! Please do not call them.
  11. This year the campground reservation is transferrable. However, only through their online system which will be active a few days after February 1. It's not allowed to sell a reservation somewhere else. You'll be banned forever from Havasu Falls if you do it
  12. What about the lodge? That is booked completely separate from the campground. 2019 is sold out already. Reservations for 2020 open up in summer. Scroll down for more info
  13. Driving: Since Hualapai Hilltop (the trailhead/helipad) is in the middle of nowhere, no one will take you there (no shuttle or anything similar). You need a car! Definitely book a rental car right after campsite reservation to get a better deal and start your trip without any worries. You'll save a lot of money with pre-booking well in advance! Don't make the mistake and rent one at the airport or just before the trip. Pro Tip: Use rentalcars.com (> save the link) as they offer Alamo, Enterprise, Thrifty and Avis at the lowest rates!

Special Tip: There is one guidebook we highly recommend for 'Havasupai Falls'. It's 'Exploring Havasupai'. It has insider tips and really fascinating background information. It also identifies many new hikes, mines, springs, and historical sites never revealed before. It includes detailed maps, trail descriptions, amazing photographs, as well as intriguing historical insights. You'll love it: Exploring Havasupai ('the best Havasupai guidebook ever!')

Another Tip: Check out our amazing article for hiking THE WAVE (in Arizona). This one of the most stunning hikes and a once in a lifetime experience! You'll learn everything, including unique tips on how to win a permit.

Season Guide

Please note, that everything in this article is thoroughly researched, updated and double checked. We know that articles on other websites haven't been updated for a while. We are up to date (2018/2019).

March - April - May 
The climate is pleasant and great for hiking. Although theoretically already fully booked, the trail and the campground are often slightly less busy in March. The average temperature in March: 40-70°F (5-21°C) with an advantage: No bugs! The only downside this month: Not warm enough for swimming at times and no blooming fauna and trees yet. In April and May, trees turn green and it gets warmer, which is better for swimming but it’s also more crowded already.

June - July - August 
It gets hot. Up to 100°F (38°C). You need to start your hike early in the morning otherwise it can become unbearable. Swimming is excellent with these temperatures outside. The downside: It’s peak season and the place is heavily crowded. You’ll also meet many others on the trail. July and August are monsoon months: There is a chance of thunderstorms and flash floods.

September 
Pleasant and still very warm, but another quite busy month. Again, start your hike early! Also, thunderstorms and flash floods can still happen until mid-September.

October - November 
In October it’s still pleasant without the summer heat: 48-77°F (9-25°C). Especially until mid-October, it's perfect for swimming and hiking: It’s hot enough to get wet all day and cold enough to wear a light sweater. In November temperatures drop to 37-63°F (3-17°C), but it’s still a great month and less busy. However, many report it's not pleasant for swimming any more (read the weather section below).

December - January - February 
Means visiting in the winter. It's low season but everything is definitely accessible. However, it's too cold for swimming. Not very pleasant for camping as well. It can get freezing cold during the night, especially in Dec/Jan: 30-53° (-1-11°C). The lodge might be the better choice. However, if you don't mind the cold during the night: It's a great time for a much quieter, pure nature and hiking experience with less tourists. In February it’s still less busy and already a little warmer. Update for season 2018/2019: The campground will be closed in December 2018 and January 2019. 


Weather and Water

The chart below shows daytime temperature details for each month. Please note, that the displayed temperatures are average highs. Especially during the night, it gets a lot colder. The only reliable historic weather source for Havasupai is:  Western Regional Climate Center

Weather Chart Havasupai

What about the water temperature for swimming? In pleasant months like March or late Oct/Nov, visitors report they can’t enjoy swimming, even though the water temperature itself is 70°F year round. That's because of the much colder outside temperature during these months. The best time to enjoy the water and swimming is April until September.
 

Discover 
Waterfall
US
Where  
United States, Grand Canyon, Arizona (AZ)
Review and Tips 

‘One of the most beautiful places!’ Havasu Falls is a once in a lifetime adventure: The waterfalls, the color of that water, the air in that Canyon, clean, crisp, just stunning. The four waterfalls are some of the most impressive in the U.S.: Fifty Foot Falls just one mile north of the Indian town of Supai. Then Navajo Falls, Mooney Falls and the most popular one: Havasu Falls. 

Must-Know Facts

  • A permit via reservation in advance is required, always!
  • Reservations for campsite and lodges are always handled separately and in different months
  • Reseveration process often changes from one year to the next
  • Reservations are only transferable via their online system
  • No cliff-jumping, no littering and no alcohol or other drugs
  • Drones are prohibited
 
The Best Itinerary

It’s usually a three-day adventure: The First day hiking down (8 miles, strenuous), the second day at the falls, then hiking back on the third day. If possible add an extra day. Then you have 2 full days between arrival and departure to explore and enjoy the scenery. A typical trip schedule could be: 

  1. Day 1: Hike down
  2. Day 2: New Navajo and Havasu
  3. Day 3: Mooney and Beaver Falls
  4. Day 4: Hike back or helicopter out

Reservations and Permits (2019 Update)

To hike there you'll need a permit, which you’ll only receive by either making A) a campground reservation or B) a reservation for the Havasupai Lodge. Reservations for the campsite always open February 1. For a campground reservation you can either call or use their online reservation system (as of 2018). Lodge reservations can only be made by phone call. UPDATE 2019: As of 2019, you'll need to set up an account at www.havasupaireservations.com to make campground reservations easier! Accounts can be created from January 8. LODGE RESERVATIONS: Lodge reservations for 2019 started last year on June 1, 2018 and are completely sold out already! What you need to know for a 2019 reservation:

  • Lodge: Sold out, no more reservations possible for 2019. Reservations started June 1, 2018. However, there are the occasional cancellations. You cannot put your name down on a “cancellation list”, but you can call every now and again and ask if there have been any cancellations.The reservations for 2020 will probably start again in June this year. We'll keep you updated.
  • Campground: As usual reservations start on February 1 (8 a.m.m Arizona time) at www.havasupaireservations.com. This time, it's necessary(!) to create an account before making an online reservation on February 1. Accounts can be registered from January 8.  On February 1: Log in before 8 a.m. to your account and refresh the page at starting 8 a.m. We cannot predict server downtimes or any similar problems. Just be prepared!
  • Online Registration Question: Is there any advantage to create an account on January 8 instead of later? No, as long as you create an account before February 1. However, we suggest to try it around January 9 or 10. Their website/servers will probably be experience some downtimes on January 8,
  • Campground Reservation Question: Will reservations via phone still be possible? No! They switched completely to online-reservations. That means reservations without an online account on their official website (see above) are not possible any more. No phone calls for reservations and no emails
  • Campground Prices: The campsite fees for 2019 are: $100/person per night on a weekday night (Monday - Thursday) and $125/person on a weekend night (Friday - Saturday - Sunday night). All fees, taxes as well as permits are included! All campground reservations will be for 3 nights (4 days).

 

Day Hike Without a Permit?

You are not allowed to hike without a permit. The only way to get a permit is to either make a reservation for the lodge or for the campgrounds. Technically you could get a camping permit to save money (vs. the Lodge permit) and then simply try to hike forth and back on one day. However, that would be too strenuous and is not recommended. Also, as of 2019 you have to book a campsite for 3 nights anyway, which makes this 'suggestion' useless. PLEASE NOTE: As of 2016 you must have a permit booked in advance. It’s no longer possible to show up and pay double to receive a permit.


The Hike

The hike down begins with a few switchbacks and then a long descent into the canyon. After 8 miles you'll arrive at the village and register at the tourist office.  They provide you with a wristband for each person registered, as well as a tag for each tent. You must wear the wristband throughout your duration of the visit. From the office it's another 2 miles to the Campground. Between May and  September, you need to start early in the morning, because of the extreme heat. Start at least by 6:30 a.m. and bring enough water! Stay at the closest hotel possible: Hualapai Lodge (1,5-hour drive to the trailhead). If you start late, the hike will be a torture in summer. Depending on your fitness level and hiking experience it'll take between 4 and 6 hours until you reach the campsite. Trail details:


Helicopter Ride


Helicopter Air West (Havasupai) by Peretz Partensky, CC BY-SA

You can fly in and out via helicopter as well. Some opt to hike down and fly out. We wouldn't fly in, as it's a very rewarding experience to enter the falls after that hike. If you want to fly out, be there early in the morning. Flights start at 10 a.m., but you should be there much earlier (see below). It's not possible to make a reservation, only first come, first served. Even if you arrive early, it's possible that you'll have to wait for many hours. Helicopter details:

  • Fly in: Below the trailhead is a broad shelf where the helicopter lands. 
  • Fly out: Pickup is between the tourist office and the Café. 
  • Time: Flights start from 10 a.m. (in and out)  until everyone has been accommodated or until it gets dark. After 1 p.m. you can't sign-up anymore. 
  • You have to wait quite a while after signing up. Example: Get there at 9 a.m. and you usually won't fly out before 2 p.m.
  • Sign-up is supposed to start between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. However, sometimes the 'sign-up person' shows up 2 hours later. But still, we recommend being there around 7 a.m. Read this review on TripAdvisor - Havasupai - Heli.
  • Fee: $85 per person. Pay via credit card or cash only, when you sign-up before the flight.
  • Schedule: March 15 - October 15: Su, Mo, Th, Fr. October 16 - March 14: Su, Fr.

 

Camping


Our Campsite (Havasupai) by D. Patrick Lewis,  CC BY

The ever-popular Havasu Falls camping area is clean and well-equipped, with plenty of space for tents and hammocks.

Location: The camping area is located between Havasu Falls, and Mooney Falls, about 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) from the Supai village. The camping area is about a mile long, and there are various sites where you can camp or string up a hammock between the trees. Most of the campsites are located on the banks of the river, on either side, with bridges across the river to easily get between the campsites.

You are free to choose whatever campsite you like with your permit, but it is often worth walking a bit further toward Mooney Falls as there are less people, since most people arrive tired from the hike and go for the first spot they find! If you trek on a little bit further, you will be rewarded with a lot more peace and quiet, especially in the lower seasons.

Facilities: The campsite is basic but clean, with its simplicity one of the main appeals. It’s a place to enjoy nature, first and foremost. There is a water tap near the start of the campground, where you can fill up your water bottles to drink. This means if you do camp closer to Mooney Falls, it’s a bit of a walk back to the tap to get more drinking water. There are also picnic tables at every campsite, as well as four toilet blocks that are spread out over the entire mile. Note that they are toilet blocks only, not showers. There is a small store where you can buy basic supplies such as cool sodas, bread, burgers and tacos. The line can be long, but it’s worth it!

Rules of the Campground: As the campsite is on an Indian reservation, there are some rules that must be followed. Not only does this show respect to your hosts (and fellow campers), but it also avoids the possibility of getting a big fine! The most important rules are:

  • No campfires at any time of year
  • No alcohol or drugs in the campsite
  • No drones (if you fly a drone, you’ll get a $1000 fine, and probably have it confiscated!)

Fees: 2019 fees are listed in our paragraph above: 'Reservations and Permits' (just scroll up). The fees allow for the campsite to remain open and well-maintained.

Tips for your stay at Havasupai Campground

  1. Make sure that you hang up all of your food and store it securely! The campground is home to some extremely mischievous squirrels who will stop at nothing to steal your food unless it is packed away securely. Don’t go hungry by losing your food to these squirrels!
  2. Bring some flip flips or sandals for wearing around the campground. It is tidy and clean, so there are no problems doing so, and your feet will really appreciate the rest before heading back on the trail the next day.
  3. Bring some cash for your stay, in case you want to buy something from the store or the Supai village. Some Havasupai sell beautiful jewellery and crafts as well, and you might want to pick something up as a reminder of your trip.
 
The Lodge

An alternative to the campground is to stay at the Havasu Lodge, which offers a few “mod cons” that the campsite doesn’t, such as showers and air-conditioning. It’s particularly popular during summer, as it offers respite from the hot temperatures.

Location and Facilities: The lodge is located near the Supai village. It is a basic lodge, with a selection of air-conditioned double bedrooms (with two double beds, sleeping a maximum of four). The rooms are spacious, although they are very basic. There is no television, but there is wi-fi. There is also a shower, which has warm water.

There is a reception desk that has advertised lobby hours of 8:00am to 5:00pm although it doesn’t strictly follow that schedule and it is not unusual to find the desk unattended. Check in is strictly from 1:00pm.

Nearby, there is a restaurant which is open from 7:00am to 6:00pm and serves a variety of basic meals (mostly fried). There is also a shop that is also open from 7:00am to 6:00pm. As all items need to be carried in by horseback, the items are limited but you can definitely pick up the essentials.

Fees for Booking: Bookings must be made by telephone (be prepared to call multiple times to get through), and can be cancelled up to two weeks in advance for a full refund. Be sure to book well in advance — bookings for 2019 opened in June 2018 and sold out within weeks. The fees for 2019 bookings were $175 per night, plus a $90 entrance fee per person.

Tips for your stay at Havasupai Lodge

  1. You may need to call multiple times, over several weeks, to get through to make a reservation. There is only one phone line and the person is very busy. Don’t give up! Please note, that the reservation process for the lodge may change from one year to the next. For example they might switch to online reservations.
  2. Even if all the rooms are sold out when you try, you may be able to get in when there is a cancellation (see above: Reservation/Permit) .
  3. Don’t expect to check in before 1:00pm, so there’s no need to be in a hurry to arrive! Enjoy the hike instead. However, that's only true for cooler months. From late spring until early fall, you should definitely start your hike early because of the extreme heat.

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Comments

Sep 27, 2016

This is SUCH a great hike - everyone should do it at least one time before they die. The water is beautiful and the exploring is endless. I went in July of 2016 and even though it was over 100F every day, it was perfect for swimming all day. You can read more on my blog at Girl on a Hike

Sep 30, 2016

If you have the opportunity to go here, do it. I went during Labor Day weekend of 2016, when a friend had extra spots on her permit. It can get a little wet during this time, and we did get some sprinkles, but overall the weather was great.

If you're hiking in, start EARLY. I'm SERIOUS. 6:30AM should be your goal at the trailhead. The canyon gets exposed during the day, and this 10-mile mike is no joke when you have a camping backpack. The payoff , though, is truly special -- Aqua waterfalls that cascade into wading pools throughout this hidden oasis of reddish rock .

I was a bit surprised at how developed the town was - once at the village, you can use outhouses, buy food, and some people even have cell phone coverage. Admittedly, the fact that campers can arrive via horseback and helicopter is convenient, but I think it also attracts a rowdier crowd than you may be used to seeing in a park setting. There was a little more trash and selfie sticks than I like seeing. But from what I hear, it was much better in September than in summertime.

While here, definitely seek out Hidden Falls - you can walk directly under this particular waterfall, and it has lesser crowds , as well as a built-in grotto . Also memorable is the hike down to Mooney Falls - this can be nerve wracking if you dislike heights as much as I do. You're basically scaling down steps that were carved into a cliff-side, holding yourself with century-old chains.

Jan 09, 2019

One word for this place: Mesmerizing! First time we went was in 2002 (see the attached pic). Really a long time ago. This place is worth visiting multiple times. Thanks to @Jordan Brown for the new great photo.