Updated: Feb 3, 2019
This April will mark our three year anniversary of traveling to one of my absolute favorite hiking trips. Havasupai Falls, home of blue green water, has over 109K Instagram posts and is an absolute must if you're willing to hike to discover beauty.
*If you don't care to read, here's a video capturing the gorgeousness of our trip.
In 2016, my eldest son and 2 of my siblings, and their spouses, set way to the magnificent falls.
Envision the most incredible blue green waters, in a remote village.
YES, it absolutely exists and the reservation line for 2019 is about to open!!!!
Getting a reservation is NO EASY FEAT. Back in 2016, my brother-in-law and sister called over 4,000 times and FINALLY got a spot 2 days later.
3 years later, reservations must be made online (WOOOO, welcome 2019!) only. No need to go old-school phone reservation. If you're seriously interested, I'd recommend creating your account now. The reservations officially open on February 1st at 8am Arizona time.
What does it cost?
Based on the Havasupai Reservations site:
2019 Campground Reservation Pricing $100 per person per weekday night $125 per person per weekend night (Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights)
These prices include all necessary permits, fees, and taxes.
Shout out to my brother Gil for covering me and TJ back in 2016 😘.
Since I wasn't up for the challenge of taking my then 3 year old (let's be real, I wasn't up for dealing with his whining), we first made a quick swing from Southern California to Nevada. My parents were kind enough to care for the little one while we check-off Havasupai Falls from my bucket list.
After the ninja trip to Las Vegas, we drove to straight to Peach Springs, Arizona. Since our plan was to start our hike bright and early the next day, we opted to stay as close as possible to the kick-off location. We checked into the Hualapai Lodge for a quick night of rest.
How long is the hike? Are there other ways in?
The hike from the Hualapai Hilltop parking lot to the first stop of the village of Supai, followed by the entrance of Havasupai Falls is about 10 miles long. The Supai campground is located along Havasu Creek between Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls.
There are other ways to get into the campground.
1) hiking (do it, it's worth it)
2) helicopter ride (first come, first served)
3) horse ride down
The hike is absolutely worth it. Why? Who doesn't want to feel that satisfying feeling of accomplishing something difficult? 😂😂😂super subjective, I know. Know that the hike involves a short downhill walk followed by a flat long stretch of flat land. You'll go thru gorgeous canyons, sandy paths and a lush green field that invites you into the Havasupai reservation. All 10 miles will give you even more appreciation of the paradise you are about to experience.
Here is an image of their map for reference.
What should you bring?
At the time, my siblings ridiculed me and TJ that we wouldn't make it. Very little physical training was done in advance. You don't necessarily have to be a CrossFit buff, but I would certainly recommend building the strength and stamina to do long-term walking, on rocks. I'm talking 4-5 hours of walking, in the sun, with no Starbucks waiting for you on the other side.
Word of advice, be prepared. If you are a newbie like we were, don't skimp corners. Buy/rent the right equipment. REI offers rentals for bags, so you may be able to avoid a $200 cost to buy a bag you may be using only 1-2x a year.
Do not bring alcohol or drugs, it is not allowed and there are fines if you are caught. Respect the Havasupai Tribe's land and reservation, we are lucky they are sharing this beauty with us.
✅Appropriate hiking shoes is strongly recommended. I used an old pair of New Balance shoes and regretted every minute of it after an hour in.
✅Hiking socks, highly recommended. A 12-mile hike on rocks will cause friction on your ankles.
✅A lightweight hiking back-pack. I went with a Northface Terra 55 pack. A gazillion compartments for anything you need and lots of little ties on the sides to hang the necessities.
✅A good hat and sunglasses. Don't forget it.
MISCELLANEOUS YET NECESSARY
✅a good attitude, this hike is long
✅bug spray, they come out at night
✅water shoes, there are tons of rocks in the water.
✅Hi-Chew candy for motivational purposes
You want everything to be lightweight!
✅fancy dancy tent lights for entertainment (warning, bugs are attracted to light and I learned this the hard way. Only turn on your lights when your tent is ALL zipped up).
✅pre-made peanut butter/jelly sandwiches (stored in the actual bread bag) was a super win for us.
✅Jet Boil to boil water for your freeze dried food
✅Freeze dried food, we loved the Lasagna from Mountain House
✅lots of water
✅alcohol - not allowed. After hiking for 4-5 hours, the last thing you need is to dehydrate yourself with alcohol.
Can kids do it?
Absolutely!!! I actually encourage it if you feel your child loves adventure and the outdoors. It's an opportune time to learn about what's happening at school and to learn how long they can keep the momentum of walking for long hours 😂.
At the time, TJ was 7 years old. I questioned his abilities, but he coasted on through. Yes, he grew tired and cranky a few times, but overall, loved it and says it was unforgettable. There are parts of the hike into Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls that require tight downward hikes in to tight spaces, and risky drops. Nothing they can't handle without proper guidance and support.
This is all worth it, and can totally be managed if your child is not afraid of heights and ready for adventure. We saw other children ranging from 7 and up.
Side note, If you want to avoid spending the money on a kids back-pack that properly fits them, REI rents them daily at a minimal price.
What can you expect?
Once you arrive at the Hualapai Hilltop, you'll park your vehicle and ecstatically prep for the journey in. The hike in can take about 4-5 hours, depending on your pace.
We started our hike sharply at 7am. I highly recommend starting early because the afternoon sun in Arizona can beam intensely.
The hike isn't difficult. Expect a short stint of downward walking, then flat land that may feel like a long way in. If you're not wearing the right hiking shoes, expect pain and irritation to kick in after the first 2 hours.
Throughout majority of the hike down, you will not find little mile check-ins. Don't be afraid, it's really hard to get lost because there really is only one way in.
Once you've made your way to the first sighting of the village, you'll be welcomed by signage reading SUPAI AND CAMPGROUNDS and HUALAPAI HILLTOP.
Lush green grass in a beautiful massive canyon will welcome you, with a sprinkling of beautiful mules. A small store serving drinks, snacks, emergency supplies will also surprise you with, you guessed it, delicious fry bread (cheeseburger style).
After scarfing down a warm freshly made meal, you'll hike in another mile to the Tourist Check-in station. Expect a little bit of a wait, as there are only a few people managing the check-ins.
Once you're all set up, you're probably dying to start the real exploration. Relax friend. Just a couple more miles to go to the campground.
Now you've arrived at the campground. We set up and took a moment to stop and recover from the super long walk. The level of exhaustion on day one is pretty unbelievable. Especially since I made no real effort to train or practice for a longer than 2 mile hike. Either that, or I was super out of shape (probably the case).
Before officially starting our exploration, my siblings set-up their ultra cool Jet Boil pack and we dug into our uber delicious Mountain House freeze dried food.
Some arrange to have their bags delivered down by using the mules to carry their gear.
The 2 images below represent the most difficult part of the hike down to Mooney Falls.
Bonus for the Kiddos
When we visited in 2016, we were given a special treat. Fidel, one of the local native members that helped manage/oversee the campground, gave TJ the exciting opportunity to take a special ride. Fidel offered TJ to ride his personal horse, Cinnamon.
Later after the ride, Fidel donned cultural attire and performed a special "Uranium Dance".
I'm super appreciative of our experience and hope that you'll be able to get yourself a spot. Not only did we get to pretend like we were teenager's living with mom and dad, I got to bond with my eldest son. Camping, in a remote village in a tent together, is definitely a weekend we'll both never forget. As for the hiking, it pushed me to go outside my comfort zone. I proved my stamina to myself and my siblings. It definitely deemed a proud moment.
This experience will totally make you hungry for more adventure and challenge.
Thanks for reading, and I hope that you and your party crew are able to lock down a 2019 reservation of your own.
Good luck and happy adventuring!!
-Your Fellow Adventure Mom