NOTE : After writing this review, it has come to my attention that :
Thank you for your interest in a Havasu Falls Tour! We are not able to create any new Havasu Falls reservations due to a recent decision by the Havasupai Tribe to prohibit tour companies in 2019.
I’m sure many true outdoor enthusiasts may support this decision, I wholeheartedly hope it is overturned. Wildland Trekking not only taught us proper hiking etiquette, and to leave no trace behind but most importantly the values of supporting the local community and adhering to the rules. Furthermore, their appreciation for the environment was highly contagious!
The following post recounts my experience visiting Havasu Falls in May 2018.
Not a sponsored post:
First off, this is not in any way a sponsored post. I paid a good amount of money to adventure to Havasu Falls with Wildland Trekking company and while it hurt my heart a little bit to drop that chunk of change on “camping,” I was seriously determined to get there.
As I mentioned in my previous post, getting permits to visit can be extremely difficult, so I felt I had no choice but to go through an outdoor tour company if I wanted to visit it within the year.
I cannot begin to tell you how thankful we were for going this route! If you aren’t familiar with backcountry camping and/or camping isn’t necessarily your forte, then this is for you! Even if you are an outdoorsy type but just want some of the stress taken away and perhaps enjoy a few luxuries while camping, THIS IS THE WAY TO GO!
Day Before Departure
The evening before starting our hike, we had an optional group meeting in Flagstaff, Arizona. At the meeting were introduced to the rest of our group, as well as our guides Jordan and Kurt. They went over all the logistics about the hike and answered any questions we may have. We were able to pick up any gear we wanted to borrow (backpacks to carry and duffle bags to be transported by the mules), as well as stocked up on snacks supplied for us to last us the entire trip.
We were picked up from our hotel in Flagstaff at 345 am, to get on the road and get to the trailhead by 7 am. On the way, we made a stop in Peach Springs where we ate breakfast. As soon as we arrived at Hualapai Hilltop trailhead, we were supplied with walking sticks and begun!
The Hike In
The hike in is all downhill, the challenging part is the sheer mileage and making sure to beat the midday heat. We frequently stopped for snack breaks/to use the bush toilet. (I was so happy I came fully stocked with hand sanitizer!)
Our guides let us know proper trail etiquette before starting, i. e. anytime mules come by with their wrangler they have the right away. They can be heard loud and clear far before they pass by, so you have plenty of time to move off to the side. It was also mentioned to us, that taking pictures of the tribal people without permission is considered disrespectful.
Hiking with the group had a definite advantage in keeping us at a speedy pace. With most of the hike complete we stopped for lunch by the river and our guides set up a cute picnic.
In order to secure one of the better spots at the campground, our guide Jordan ran ahead for the last portion of the hike (over 2 miles). This is one of the many instances I was so beyond thankful for doing a guided tour, but more specifically for these guides, because they went above and beyond our expectations, and made camping seem more like glamping!
Once we hiked 8 miles, we arrived at the Supai village. Here our guides checked in with the tourism office and got our wristbands, which all visitors to Havasu Falls will have to wear during their entire stay on the reservation. We also had time to check out the convenience store and use the public restrooms.
Supai Village is where the helicopter pick up/drop off point is and at quarter to 12 the line was still very long.
From the village, we trekked on and finished the last two miles. We passed both Upper and Lower Navajo Falls, and finally, nothing prepares you for the moment you first set eyes on Havasu Falls. Out of nowhere coming down the hill, you turn a
The campsite is just minutes from Havasu Falls and before you reach it you walk right by the outhouses (which are composting toilets). There is also a Frybread Hut serving snacks and beverages, but the hours are unpredictable, and you must have cash!
We lucked out (thanks to our guides) and got the best spot on the west side next to the canyon wall right next to the fresh spring water pipe. It was pretty nice to not have to walk far for water!
The campsites are basic, just a picnic bench and plenty of trees to hang hammocks. Our guides made our campsite feel as much like home as is possible in the outdoors. They provided an animal proofed trashcan and recycle bin (so happy about that!), covered the benches with tablecloths, set up a handwashing station hung from a tree, and had setup all of the tents complete with sleeping pads and bags ready before our arrival.
Although I’m bias to our site, the whole campground is only a half mile, so no matter where you are the water and outhouses are never too far.
End of Day 1
We spent the afternoon playing in Havasu Falls, which besides the pool directly below the fall also has “plunge pools” surrounding it, perfect for laying out and relaxing. It felt like the pools and random crevices just kept going on and on until they turned back into the river.
After spending some time cooling off and decompressing from the long hike, it was dinner time back at camp around 530pm. Our guides whipped up chicken fajitas, which were far better than anything I’ve ever had while camping! To top
Then the exhaustion, combined with food coma kicked in, and everyone called it a night.
Wake Up Day 2
We started our day at 6 am with coffee, ready to go with all the condiments. Along with food allergies, our guides asked how we prefer our coffee via email prior to the trip. I mean… if that isn’t the icing on the cake!
At 630am we were served breakfast- eggs, potatoes, and turkey bacon, all delicious.
We had an hour to brush our teeth, get dressed, and be ready to head out to Beaver Falls. Having an extra early start to beat everyone else to Beaver Falls really paid off!
Getting Past Mooney Falls
Half a mile down the trail is Mooney Falls, the climb down was what I was most apprehensive about of the whole trip. (You can read a little more about it here). Luckily, after a brief safety talk, anyone that wasn’t feeling super confident was able to do the hike down alongside a guide.
The whole traverse down the 200-foot wall, I had Jordan telling me exactly where to place my hands and feet so that I always felt secure. I still was a nervous wreck, but it definitely made all the difference having the help.
Now having done it once, I have the confidence I could do it again without any guidance. The key here is always having three points of contact, taking it very slowly, and when you go down the ladders face the wall.
Mooney Falls is massive and beautiful. However, it was completely shaded in the morning, so much better to be viewed later in the day.
The rest of the hike to Beaver Falls is relatively easy. Some areas looked straight out of Jurassic Park, completely surrounded by green bushes as far as the eye could see and encapsulated by huge canyons walls. The trail crosses the river quite a few times, so having water shoes is ideal.
The 3-mile hike got us to Beaver Falls by 1030am, and we had it all to ourselves! Just from the first glimpse, you can see why it’s so magical. Its like natures version of a pool party; spent between the various tiers of waterfalls and pledge pools. They are perfect for floating around, walking over, and swimming in.
I carried a floatie in my backpack the entire trip, in hopes to make use of it here. And while it was fun, I’m on the fence about whether or not I really needed it. I also read online floaties aren’t allowed, which I didn’t know before going. To be honest, you see them everywhere, which is kind of the problem… According to the guides, they are often left behind and litter the sides of the waterfalls, some of which desegregate plastic into the water and disrupt nature.
Today’s lunch was chicken curry wraps, that our guides made for us right beside the falls. This recipe was my absolute favorite of the trip!
By quarter past 12 we were on our way back to Mooney Falls. Passing some often missed and hidden spots along the way, as well as spotting a big horned sheep.
Mooney Falls Photo Op
While Mooney Falls may not be as ideal for swimming, it is the perfect place for a photo shoot on the iconic stump right front and center. We attempted to swim out towards the fall as far as we could go till the intensity of the spray from the 200-foot drop became too much.
And then you have the way back up Mooney Falls. Well, that is MUCH easier than the way down! Still always best to take it slow, wait for other groups to finish (treat it like a one-way road), and take caution.
We were back at camp by 3 pm and had a couple hours of free time before dinner at 6 pm.
The dinner this night was salmon pesto pasta, and I was once again amazed by the level of cooking going down!
After dinner, we decided to do a little R & R and did face masks in our tent. I thought it would feel amazing to hydrate my skin after being in the dust, sand, and dry heat for days. Bringing sheet masks that don’t need to be washed off was the perfect solution for this; light to pack, easy to use, and no mess!
This was considered our sleeping-in
Fifty Foot and Both Navajo Falls
Today was the most low key day of the itinerary, which was nice to have a day to recoup a bit!
By 9 am we had hiked up to Fifty Foot Falls about a mile back towards the Supai Village. These falls are enclosed in a jungle of bush and often overlooked or missed altogether. First thing in the morning we had the place all to ourselves, we swam up to the falls and took in the tranquility in this hidden paradise. Listening to nothing but the sound of water falling…
Next, we headed over to Upper Navajo Falls, which people also use as a tanning deck. Similar to Beaver Falls but with shallower pools, this is a fun place to explore, float, and chill. If you swim up the creek a bit, the current brings you back like your on a water ride at a theme park!
Before heading to Lower Navajo falls we had a lunch break up the hill in the shade, today’s menu was chicken salad wraps with chips.
Lower Navajo is much different than Upper Navajo; here you can walk right up to the falls!
We then walked down Hidden Falls, which was a little tricky to get to if you don’t already know where it is. I’m not sure about its name as many people were already hanging out here once we arrived! It’s small and pretty to see, but better off early in the day so it’s not as crowded.
The rest of the afternoon we spent sunbathing at Havasu Falls in all the different plunge
At our last dinner, while enjoying Cowboy Chilli (which you could spice up with chips, hot sauce, and cheese), we went around the table and reminisced on the weekend, and each shared our favorite part. Which is pretty hard to choose! The guides also went over the details of our VERY EARLY morning departure the next day.
Departing at the crack of dawn
Early morning departures are the norm for leaving Havasu Falls, as EARLY as in waking up and departing the campground by 4 am! This meant already having ate breakfast, had coffee, packed up, broken down our tent, and on the trail by 4 am. The one not so glamorous part of the trip.
Since it was still completely dark out the first portion of the hike was done with a headlamp on. The hike out is all uphill so just think of it as a stair master or treadmill and have at it! A great advantage to having a group of people to hike with it that they keep you motivated, but also accountable, so you can’t slack off.
We stopped in Supai briefly (and saw people already lining up at 5 am for the helicopter), had a break to do some group stretches, and of course, often stopped to fuel up on snacks.
Leave No Trace.
I spent the majority of the hike out in amazement of our guides who picked up every single piece of trash they saw on the trail. The garbage bag of junk they carried grew to the size of Santa’s sack, which they brought all the way back to Flagstaff to be disposed of.
The Last Mile and A Half
With just 1.5 miles left to go, we stopped to convene to discussed continuing at our own pace for the last portion, a brutal 1000 feet climb of switchbacks. While this is the hardest part of the hike, for me, it just took a burst of energy and some motivational self-talk to get it done!
In the event you are struggling behind, one of the guides is right beside you for moral support or misting your face down with a little water if requested!
The last mile and a half took me a little less than an hou and by 920 am I was at the top!
Completing the hike is a mixture of utter amazement and accomplishment! A guide was already ready to pick us up with ice-cold g
From there we stopped at Peach Springs for one last group lunch. Getting out of the car at this point was extremely difficult as my legs had turned to jello and stopped wanting to function. Stretching and lots of fluids were vital.
I can’t tell you how amazing that first warm shower was… that was really the only thing I was missing on the whole trip. I made sure to get a
Read online ahead of time about the tipping policy and be sure to have enough cash for the end of the trip. What we had planned ahead of time (according to the recommended tipping policy) BUT it didn’t seem nearly enough when all was said and done. These guides keep you alive for 3 days! So, perhaps, plan to have more cash
Having a guide accompany us was the best decision we made for our first trip to Havasu Falls! To be honest, because of all the added luxuries and the knowledge we gained I would always consider doing it guided, although, I have much more confidence attempting it on my own now.
Nothing beats having two people with a bounty of knowledge of the area there 24/7. They gave us an education on the outdoors and it often felt like we had Mowgli showing us Havasu Falls! We were also so thankful to have gone with a great group of people from different parts of the country and walks of life. It made the experience that much better!
This trip was one of the best weekends of my life! While stepping outside of my comfort zone and challenging myself in new ways, I was able to experience this whimsical alternative universe hidden in the Grand Canyon.
Here is a link for our exact trip.
Here are all of Wildland Trekking Havasu Falls Tour Options.
And here’s another blog post I wrote : All Of Your Questions Answered About Havasu Falls