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Majestic Havasupai

Havasupai has been on my “bucket list” ever since I saw my first picture of the beautiful blue-green water and falls. If you’ve never heard of Havasupai or seen photos – get ready to add a new destination to your “bucket list.”

Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls

Please note – this and all pictures are completely unedited. I didn’t use any filters or any other manipulations. All photos were taken by me on my iPhone 6 or my Samsung TL220. The water really is that beautiful blue-green. And the photos really don’t do it justice.

When planning a trip to Havasupai, you need to know that it is a long process. You will want to visit the official website of the Havasupai Tribe   for current fees and information. You can also find information from the National Park Website since it is located in the Grand Canyon (However, the Havasupai Reservation is not under the jurisdiction of the national park system).

The name of the game when making Havasupai reservations is PATIENCE and PERSERVERENCE. The reservation process opens on Feb 1 at 7:00am Arizona time (in February that’s Mountain Time – Arizona doesn’t have daylight savings time, so during the winter it’s Mountain Time, and during the summer it’s Pacific Time). Each year, they sell out all of their reservations for the year within two weeks. You will need to set aside a few days to make repeat calls in order to get through and you’ll need to be flexible on your travel dates. You might consider having your spouse or others who might be going with you make phone calls as well. The more people calling, the better your chances of getting through and securing a reservation.

When you get through and are able to make your reservation, you will need to leave a credit card number for an authorization, but they will not charge anything until you arrive in Supai.

I could do a whole post about the reservation process, hiking preparation/practice, and packing for the trip, but I wanted this post to be about the experience. There is plenty of information available (a quick Internet search will provide you a plethera of photos and information), so I’ll finish this portion with the list of fees. (Note, the fees can change – contact the official websites above for current fees). All fees are Per Person – children age 6 and under are free.

Environmental Fee – $5

Entrance Fee – $35

Camping Fee – $17/night

Pack Mule/Horse – $80 one-way or $160 round-trip (Each animal will take up to 4 bags with a total weight of 130 lbs)

10% tax charged on all above fees

Optional Private Helicopter access – $85/person each way if paid with cash. Additional $10 per transaction if paid with credit card

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Havasupai (pronounced have – a – Sue – pie) means people of the blue-green waters. For information on this small Native American Tribe that has resided in the Grand Canyon for centuries visit HERE. The little village of Supai has a population of just over 200 people. It’s a very remote village that utilizes the last remaining mule train for US Mail because the village cannot be accessed by car — it is accessed via an eight mile trail. Everything is basically brought in on foot or by horse/mule.

US Post Office

US Post Office

The Havasupai Indian Reservation and the little village of Supai is located on the south side of the Grand Canyon. The parking lot where you begin your hike is about 4.5 hours from Phoenix, AZ or 3 hours from Flagstaff. The closest lodging is over 25 miles from the trailhead, so we chose to camp overnight at the parking lot. Many people take this option. If you have an RV or camping trailer, this would be ideal. We didn’t have that option, so some of us slept in the car while a few slept under the stars (and oh the stars! I’ve never seen so many stars before). We saw some people pitch tents and a few set up hammocks.

Location of Havasupai

Location of Havasupai

Because it’s eight miles to the village and another two miles to the campground, and we had children as young as eight with us, we chose to start our hike about 5:45am. Most people estimate 4-7 hours to complete the hike to/from the campground. There is a 2,000 foot change in elevation as well. So, we anticipated a longer hike on the way out. Our children did really well on the hikes. Including our half hour stop in the village, it took us about 5 and a half hours to get to the campground. On our return trip, we actually left at about 3:15am so we wouldn’t have to be hiking in the heat of the day. We made it up to the top by 8:30am. It’s not a technical hike (It’s a wide, well maintained trail. Most of it is following a river bed so it’s very sandy), but it is long, and there isn’t a whole lot of shade. Going back, the last mile is all switchbacks going up the mountain, so you truly don’t want to be doing that in the heat of the day.

Switchbacks

Switchbacks

Trail through Havasupai Canyon

Trail through Havasupai Canyon

Since we were camping, we had another 1.5-2 miles of hiking ahead of us once we reached the village. The kids wanted to stop and rest at the little restaurant on the edge of the village. They made a cute puppy friend. Then we headed further into the village where we needed check in at the tourism office. You provide your reservation number and pay all your fees at that time. They will provide you with a tag for your tent and wristbands for everyone to wear (or tags for your daypacks) . You need to wear your wristbands and have your tent tagged – this is how they verify that people have paid their fees.

Entering the Village of Supai

Entering the Village of Supai

Puppy Friend in Supai

Puppy Friend in Supai

After our little break, we continued through the village and on to the trail to the campground. Along the way you pass three waterfalls.

Lower Navajo Falls

Lower Navajo Falls with Fifty Foot Falls in the background

The last waterfall before the campground is Havasu Falls – this is probably the most photographed of all the falls. It’s only about a five minute walk from the edge of the campground to Havasu Falls so many people spend a lot of time there.

Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls

We found a nice campsite close to the front of the campground, so we’d have bathroom facilities close by, access to the fresh water spigot nearby, and only a short walk to Havasu Falls. With a family of eight, we set up a couple parachute hammocks along with a couple tents.

Hanging out in the hammocks

Hanging out in the hammocks

If you continue through the campground to the far end, you can hike down to Mooney Falls. It’s a steep and fairly technical trail to get to the base of the falls. Since we had young kids with us, we chose not to go all the way to the base, but I still got a photo.

Hiking to Mooney Falls

Hiking to Mooney Falls

Mooney Falls

Mooney Falls

We spent a total of two nights camping in Havasupai and spent the majority of our time swimming near Havasu Falls. We also simply hung out playing cards and relaxing. We did hike back into the village on the second day. We got ice creams and popsicles from the market and then got Indian tacos from the cafe for lunch. We headed back out before the sun rose on the third day so we could beat the heat.

It is almost four miles round trip from the campground to the village, so keep that in mind if you plan to do that. There is a fry bread “hut” at the entrance to the campground, but it wasn’t open every day and they only take cash. The market and cafe in the village take cash or credit card.

There is the option (if you don’t have little ones with you) to hike another eight miles beyond Mooney Falls to reach the Colorado River. If you’re visiting with older children, or just you and your spouse, that could be a fun day trip as well.

We had time constraints on this trip, so we weren’t able to stay longer but the two nights was adequate time to experience the area and it wasn’t too long for the kids. If we had gone without kids, I would have enjoyed having another day or two so we could hike to the base of Mooney Falls and then on to the Colorado River.

Below is a slide show of our trip — please enjoy!

Julie is an OC Supermom to six beautiful children in Orange County. She is an editor with Blue Tulip Publishing, active in the community, and enjoys running in her free time.
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