In the depths of the Grand Canyon lies a place a beauty that most don’t know about: Havasupai. The Havasupai people who reside there are known as the “people of the blue-green water,” and have been maintaining this secret mythical place for many years, but have permitted visitors to come and experience the magic of the falls and river.
It’s not easy to obtain a permit to visit, as the waiting list is rather lengthy. It’s also not easy to hike down into (and back out of) Havasupai. The lush oasis of blue-green water is sacred to the Havasupai and they believe that it not only flows through the land but through each tribal member. A visit to the Havasupai is an unforgettable visit to their land, their home, and their place of origin.
Day 1 – Depart Phoenix for the Grand Canyon
The drive from Phoenix to the trailhead takes approximately five hours. Starting at 5,200 feet, the trail begins with a series of switchbacks. Eventually, hikers reach a dry streambed where the trail begins to level out. This is a good time to have lunch and explore the canyon walls, which appear to grow around you as you descend deeper into the maze of red sandstone.
By mile 8 of the hike today, the canyon begins to widen and the lush vegetation will become more present as you enter the village of Supai, the most remote village in the United States. After a quick stop to refill water or grab a snack from the small grocery store, continue past the village where you will pass the 50-foot New Navajo Falls, the 35-foot Rock Falls (Little Navajo Falls), and the 100-foot Havasu Falls. From Havasu Falls, base camp is just around the corner at an elevation of 2,800 feet. Once at camp, set up your tents, unpack your gear, and have some dinner while making sure to rest up for the next day of hiking.
Total hiking distance today: approximately 10 miles.
Day 2 – Mooney and Beaver Falls
Wake up bright and early to get a head start on the day. After breakfast, begin your adventure by crossing tropical blue streams and wading through lush meadows of wild grapevines as you make your way to Mooney and Beaver Falls, the last waterfalls in the chain of five major waterfalls in Havasu Canyon. The hike to Mooney Falls is difficult and requires you to crouch through a cave and scale the side of a canyon wall using a rope-and-ladder system that has been installed (this can be tricky for those with fears of heights but well worth it once accomplished).
Once you’ve reached Mooney, continue on to Beaver Falls so as to not lose the light of the day. Since you will be returning back to camp the same way you left, there will be time on the return to spend time at Mooney. The hike to Beaver Falls takes you through several river crossings and can be a bit much at times getting through the wild vines, but once you reach beautiful Beaver Falls, it will all be worth the pain and scratches. Spend some time exploring Beaver Falls, have lunch and hike back toward Mooney Falls where that uphill climb up the side of the canyon wall will be waiting for you. Return to camp and celebrate another victorious day of hiking and picture taking.
Total hiking distance today: approximately 9 miles.
Day 3 – Carbonate Canyon, Havasu Falls & the New Waterfalls
Today’s hike will take you up to Carbonate Canyon to look for some fossils and explore the area. Afterward, return to Havasu Falls near camp to swim and relax for a bit. After lunch, hike out to see two new waterfalls as well as an extinct one. Over at Rock Falls, jump through the sheet of water behind the falls, and at the 50-foot New Navajo Falls, enjoy the emerald pools. On the way back to camp, climb and explore the dry bones of old Navajo Falls, then head back to camp for the last night.
Total hiking distance today: approximately 6 miles
Day 4 – Return to Phoenix
It’s almost over—although there still is an epic uphill hike left to accomplish. Pack up and leave camp as early as possible to avoid the afternoon sun during the 2,400-foot elevation gain on the hike back to the rim. Take your time and make your way to those initial switchbacks that didn’t seem so intense going down. But really when you keep a steady pace, they are manageable. Once you reach the top of the rim, celebrate your hike and take a few moments to enjoy the views before you load up and head back to Phoenix.
Total hiking distance today: approximately 10 miles.
Trusted Tour Guides
Using a trusted tour company to get you down and into Havasupai is highly recommended and not only for safety reasons. Guides are trained, know the land, and can take you to all of the five falls using the correct paths. In addition, they know all sorts of secret spots and can tell you which cliffs are safe to jump off of and which waterfalls have hidden underwater caves to explore.
Also, going with a guide company means that your tents and camping gear are all transported both down and back up for you, and meals are also provided. Arizona Outback Adventures has been the premier adventure tour company in the southwestern U.S. since 1997 and are experts in Havasupai. REO Adventures also runs excellent tours and has various packages, including family-friendly options down into Havasupai.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Grand Canyon Guide