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Backpacking and Exploring the Waterfalls of Havasupai
Adventures in Havasupai!
A few years ago I saw a picture of spectacular Mooney Falls. I was amazed at the color of the water, and I immediately began researching to learn more. Mooney Falls and other nearby falls are all located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in the state of Arizona. Supai Village is within Havasu Canyon, and the Havasupai Indian Tribe has jurisdiction over the land. The land is right outside the boundary of Grand Canyon National Park. In January I was stuck at home with a bad cold, and I saw a picture of Havasu Falls. I researched online for hours and planned my trip to finally see the majestic waterfalls of Havasu Canyon. I made reservations for my husband and myself to camp May 22, 2012 to May 24, 2012. When the big day arrived we backpacked over 8 miles to the village of Supai and then continued 2 miles to the campground. Not far from the campground were the most amazing waterfalls I have ever seen. Pictures are gorgeous, but seeing this in person is out of this world! If you have any questions feel free to ask!
Photos by: Kevin and Mandy Stradley
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The night before our big hike we stayed in Seligman, Arizona. In the morning we drove 1.5 hours to Hualapai Hilltop where we parked our car and got ready to start our descent into the canyon. Hualapai Hilltop is at the end of Indian Road 18, 65 miles north of Route 66. There are bathrooms to use and sometimes you can buy food or drinks. From the hilltop you can either hike, ride a mule/horse or take the helicopter. If you hike you can backpack everything in or you can pay to have a mule bring your gear. If you plan on taking a helicopter please note that the helicopter does not run every day.
My husband and I decided to backpack everything in to save money. When we started our hike we went down steep switchbacks for almost 2 miles.
The trail led us between towering cliffs which began to narrow. After hiking for a few hours we heard a stream. The color of the stream was unlike anything I have ever seen, and the water was at least 70 degrees.
We continued our hike and eventually made it to the village of Supai. As you head into the village you will see the tourism office on the left side of the trail. There are bathrooms inside and picnic tables right outside for those that would like to take a break. After resting we checked in and then continued to the campground.
Havasupai means People of the
Along the trail to Supai!
As you head towards the campground you will pass Upper Navajo Falls and Lower Navajo Falls on your left. Farther down the path you will see Havasu Falls on your right. A couple of minutes beyond Havasu Falls is the entrance to the campground.
Most campsites have picnic tables and there are bathrooms as well. I recommend continuing farther down the path to look for a more private spot because the campground is actually quite long.
As you continue down the path you will see "Fern Spring" against the cliff to your left. This is where you can fill up water bottles, etc. I drank the water straight from the spring, but you can purify it if you would like.
There are campsites on either side of the stream. We ended up camping next to the second set of bathrooms on the left.
After we set up our tent and organized our belongings my husband took a nap on top of the picnic table. While he was resting he got quite the surprise when a squirrel climbed on top of him looking for food!
I was exhausted from backpacking, but I wanted to explore! I grabbed our camera and headed down the trail to see the rest of the campground.
On my left I saw a wooden sign pointing towards Mooney Falls. I continued down the trail and soon realized that I was standing on top of Mooney Falls!
Mooney Falls plummets 190'. To get to the base you have to be very careful! The trail is narrow and goes through tunnels to a section where you have to hold onto chains. The last section has a ladder to climb down. You can enjoy swimming at Mooney Falls and even trek a further 3 miles to get to Beaver Falls, yet another spectacular waterfall.
Upper Navajo Falls
After our first night of camping we hiked back up the trail to spend time at Navajo Falls. Upper Navajo Falls is beautiful and Lower Navajo Falls has an outstanding swimming hole!
Lower Navajo Falls
We spent hours basking in the sun at Lower Navajo Falls. I loved the 30 foot jump from the top of the falls. We also enjoyed climbing on the ledge behind the waterfall and jumping through the water and into the pool.
We spent a lot of time at Havasu Falls. There is a trail from the campground that goes along the stream right to the waterfall. Havasu Falls is particularly spectacular because of its beauty. The falls plunge 100' into a pool surrounded by a larger pool that is about knee deep and then drops down into yet another pool. We stayed at Havasu Falls for hours and thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the sand like beach of the waterfall. There are also large rocks in the water that you can sit on to enjoy the view.
Enjoying Havasu Falls
We were traveling at the end of May and it was very hot! Make sure to leave as early as possible when you start your hike. The first day we did not leave until 8:30 am and by the time we reached the campground it was 105 degrees! On the way back we left at 5 am and arrived at the hilltop at 11:30 am.
Weigh your options. You can hike, ride a mule/horse, or helicopter to Supai. If you are hiking you also have the option to have a mule carry your pack. You can stay in the campground or the lodge.
Camp Suds Biodegradable Cleaner
If you want to wash anything in the stream you are required to use biodegradable soap.
Bring plenty of water for the hike! We each had about 1 gallon of water mixed with Gatorade powder. In the campground you can refill your water bottles/bladders at Fern Spring. We also brought tablets to purify the water from the stream.
The village has a general store with drinks, food, and supplies. Additionally, Native Americans sometimes sell food or drinks by the entrance to the campground. On our second night we bought Navajo Tacos which consisted of fried bread topped with beans, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and onion.
Bring strong rope! Most campers had everything tied up on a clothesline or hanging from a tree. Squirrels would love to eat all of your food like they ate ours! We had our food tied up in a tree with a shoelace and they bit right through it!
No alcohol is allowed and keep yours animals at home!
Gatorade Powdered Drink Mix
This was great for our hike!
Keep your valuables with you at all times. My husband's wallet was stolen right from our tent.
Try to go earlier in the season to avoid the heat. The end of May was uncomfortably hot. During the first night I put my towel in the stream and had it on me while I was sleeping to stay cool. The second day it cooled off a bit and I was fine, especially since I was swimming all day.
Backpack, day pack, tent, sleeping bag and pad (or hammock)
Food, water, stove, fuel, cooking pot, can opener, water purification system (we brought tablets) biodegradable soap (camp suds) meals that only require adding hot water (ramen, oatmeal), Gatorade powder
Clothing, hiking boots, water shoes, hiking poles, sunglasses, sunscreen, chapstick, hat, insect repellant, toothbrush, toothpaste, watch, toilet paper (fold and put in plastic bag)
Map, camera, compass, flashlight, pocketknife, first aid kit, moleskin, rope, plastic bag to pack out trash
More Great Buys!
I am really glad that I had a hiking pole!
Exploring Havasupai Guide
A Guide to the Heart of the Grand Canyon
Deep in the Grand Canyon lies a place of unmatched beauty; a place where blue-green water cascades over fern-clad cliffs into travertine pools, where great blue heron skim canyon streams, and where giant cottonwoods and graceful willows thrive in the shade of majestic sandstone cliffs. Havasupai is a paradise enveloped in one of the earth's most rugged and parched landscapes. is the essential destination guide for those visiting the area. The guidebook is filled with insider tips, fascinating background, and essential information. Details on canyon geology, weather patterns, and the unique flora and fauna add depth to a hiker's experience. Exploring Havasupai includes detailed maps, trail descriptions, stunning full-color photographs, and intriguing historical insights. This is the must-have guide for canyon visitors, whether arriving by helicopter, on horseback, or on foot. ( Exploring Havasupai Photo from Amazon. as described on amazon)
Havasupai Tribe's Website
Additional information, including phone numbers to make reservations can be found at this website:
- Havasupai - Home of Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls - havasupaitribe.com