Havasupai Falls was a top 5 experience of our entire lives. It is beyond incredible, indescribably beautiful, fantastically unique. Words won’t do it justice, but throughout the next 7,500 words we’re going to try.
We could write unending blogs about this paradise, but of course no one would read them, so we did our absolute best to compress ALL of our knowledge into 1 blog post.
Permit information, travel planning advice, packing list, hiking recommendation, photography tips. All of this AND MORE is located in the following post.
Your one-stop go-to for everything you need to know about Havasupai. Oh, and pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a Havasupai picture is worth a million. SO we included pictures as well, we hope you’ll enjoy!
Getting Your Permit
Okay, this was the most frustrating part of our Havasupai experience, so let’s get it out of the way. Getting a permit was a CHALLENGE. Especially for us since we are living out of a van without WiFi…
So, on February 1, 2019 at 9:00am, when passes went on sale for the year, we hunkered down in a McDonalds for the WiFi. We opened our computers and phones and went to havasupaireservations.com and logged in.
45 minutes later, we were still refreshing the page, hoping to get in and reserve our stay. There was SO much traffic on the site that it literally would not work!
After 1 hour and 15 minutes, we were getting a bit worried… Were we doing something wrong? Would we miss our chance to see Havasupai in 2019? Were we going to get kicked out of this McDonalds and achieve a new life low?
Thankfully, for us and for the McDonalds employees, at 1 hour and 35 minutes, we broke through and booked our stay: April 16-19. Whew!
Here’s the need-to-know items on booking your own Havasupai stay:
We absolutely LOVE photography, and sharing pictures! These are the cameras we use on all of our adventures. The drone and GoPro help us get cool new perspectives (underwater, in the air, wide angle) and the Rebel we use on a day-to-day basis for most of our shots!
Full disclosure these are affiliate links. If you click them and buy the products we get a little bit of money, which helps us keep providing content to you for free!
- Reservations are $100 per weekday night (Monday-Thursday) and $125 per weekend night (Friday-Sunday)
- Reservations are for 4 days & 3 nights (we think this is the perfect amount of time, anyways)
- All reservations must be made on havasupaireservations.com
Quick Tip: Create an account ahead of time and sign up for email notifications. This will save you a ton of time, and make sure you have the BEST chance of getting the BEST date for your Havasupai experience!
New in 2019 (and beyond) is the Havasupai Reservation Transfer System! For the very first time, it is now possible to purchase a reservation (at face value) from someone who has an existing reservation and is unable to use theirs!
This is AWESOME news, especially if you missed the boat on getting a reservation before they were sold out for the year. You may have to check the system periodically to see if new transfer requests are made, especially if you have a specific set of dates in mind.
Our Havasupai Vlog
To get to the Havasupai campground, you have to hike in from the Havasupai Trailhead. To get to Havasupai Trailhead, you’ll need to plan some travel.
Havasupai Trailhead is located right on the rim of the Grand Canyon. The positive is that the entire trail has GORGEOUS panorama views of the canyon. The negative? It is not exactly close to any large airports. Here are the closest:
- 4 hours from Las Vegas, NV
- 4 hours 40 minutes from Phoenix, AZ
- 3 hours from Flagstaff, AZ
If you’re coming from outside the Southwestern US, and are flying in, we recommend flying into Las Vegas. In our experience, flight and car rental prices have been the most affordable at the Las Vegas airport. However, if you find a cheap flight into Phoenix or Flagstaff, jump on it!
You will want to pay special attention to the flight times as well, especially if you plan on going straight from the airport to the trailhead. When we went to Havasupai, we were living in our van, so we had flexibility. However, we had a friend fly in to Phoenix for the trip with us, so we did have this issue with flight times.
The best way to work out times is to work backwards. Typically, you’ll want to start your hike as EARLY as possible on your first day. We started the hike at 6:00am, but to be honest we wish we’d started earlier. The reasons for this are three big ones:
- Avoid the heat of the middle of the day
- Get your pick of the campsites at the campground
- Maximize your time at Havasupai!
If you have to drive 4+ hours to the trailhead, this would mean leaving Las Vegas/Phoenix/Flagstaff at a CRAZY early hour in the morning. We suggest taking turns driving while others sleep on the ride.
There are probably 100 ways to plan your trip to Havasupai, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take care to plan ahead. Planning ahead will make your trip much more in control, much more fun, and much more UNFORGETTABLE!
Havasupai Campground is a campground with special rules. You must pack in all your food, camping gear, hiking gear, and anything else you’ll want. You must pack out all your trash. No alcohol, drugs, dogs, or unmanned drones are allowed on the entire reservation.
Hiking is our number 1 favorite activity. You get outside, get exercise, see amazing things, and don’t spend a lot of money. It is literally the perfect activity! You do need to have the right gear to go though. Here is all the best gear we use for our hikes.
These rules make one aspect of the trip a challenge, especially for those of you who pack half their wardrobe for every vacation (*cough* Julie). We had to take EXTRA special care, because we are not talking about a few extra clothes tossed into a carry on we roll through the airport.
Everything you bring, you have to carry for 20 MILES (10 in, 10 out) on your back, up and down the GRAND CANYON. They call it GRAND for a reason, people… It is flipping HUGE!
After our experience in Havasupai, we feel we have a great grasp of everything you’ll need for your trip. Here’s everything we know:
This will be your home for the 4 days your in Havasupai, you had better plan ahead to make it a comfortable one! We have everything you’ll need for your cozy campsite in the canyon.
Let’s start with the necessities, you’ll need some shelter. We recommend a tent that packs up EXTREMELY small, and is easy to set-up & tear-down. That way you’ll maximize your time experiencing Havasupai!
We went with a great little 2-person tent that had just enough room for us to sleep and store our clothes. It was waterproof, and very easy to use!
In our opinion, you’re going to want a sleeping pad to sleep on. We found a great one on Amazon that we used, and slept great on every night except 1 (due to the noise of the rain on the tent rooftop!).
This sleeping pad was easy to strap on the outside of Zach’s pack, and was pretty lightweight to carry in and out. Also, it is super easy to roll out and inflate, it is self inflating! The only thing you have to blow up is the pillows, which took all of 5 minutes.
The nights can get a bit cold in the desert, so best to have something to keep you warm at night. We chose to bring 1 large sleeping bag for the two of us. We unzipped it and used it as a big blanket, since we had our sleeping pad under us.
If you’re traveling solo, we would recommend bringing the smallest sleeping bag you can find. The smaller it is, the easier it will be to pack and carry!
Who doesn’t love camping?? Getting out into the great outdoors, enjoying Mother Nature’s beauty, it is the best! We love waking up with a cup of coffee after camping by the lake under the stars. Here is all the camping gear we use and love!
You are going to want a tarp beneath your tent. This will help prevent moisture from seeping up beneath you, and will protect the floor of your tent.
We packed in a tarp that was HUGE, too big for our tent, so we had to fold it into quarters to fit it underneath the tent. It worked great, but the fact that it was very large made it difficult to pack and carry.
Reminder: DO NOT let the tarp be visible beneath the tent. If the tarp is sticking out, then water can pool ON the tarp, and your tent will be in a big puddle… NOT good.
We recommend getting a small, durable tarp that fits beneath your tent. Something like this should work perfectly.
The hammock is optional, but it is OH SO NICE to get back from a long hike, and fall into a comfortable hammock! Grab a good book or game, throw on some music, whatever floats your boat and gets you comfortable and relaxed.
Another benefit of a hammock, at least the one we brought, is that it packs into a tiny bag. Kind of like a parachute somehow fits into a backpack, this large hammock rolls up into a bag about the size of a short stack of pancakes. That made it super easy to pack and bring along!
Idea from the moon: You could even try abandoning the whole ‘tent’ idea and make the hammock your solution for sleep! If you do this, you NEED to make sure you have a waterproof covering hanging over (the tarp above should work).
String was something we did NOT think about before heading in to Havasupai. Thankfully, our hammock had some extra string (meant to be used for the mosquito net) that we were able to use.
Why did we need string? We needed to tie our food and trash up while we were away from the campsite to keep critters away!
Now, we expected to tie our bags to a branch, but as we learned (from a veteran, not from experience, thankfully), the critters can jump from a branch down to your bag and dive right in!
Therefore, you have to tie a string from one branch to another, and then hang your bag in the middle of that string. These critters are not tight-rope walkers, so your food should be safe if you tie it up like this!
In the Havasupai Campsite is a place you’ll visit every day, at least twice a day. No, not Havasu Falls (although you should spend a LOT of time there). We’re talking about the spring.
We love to read, especially on a trip! We get our books on a Kindle so we can bring multiple books anywhere. Reading is a great way to relax and unwind while also getting caught up in a great story. We love everything from novels to self-help, business books to memoirs. Here are our favorites!
A natural spring spouting crystal clear, delicious water. You’ll be wanting a LOT of water each and every day, as staying hydrated should be priority number 1 on any hiking or camping trip.
We did not think ahead to have a large water container, and we were VERY jealous of everyone who did. These expert campers made us of flexible 5 gallon containers that rolled up so that they were super easy to pack and carry.
The benefit is that you may only need 1 or 2 trips to the spring the ENTIRE TRIP if you have one of these along. And the spring isn’t exactly close, depending on where you choose to camp.
A water container is optional, you can sure make do with a bladder and a few water bottles. However, this is a low-cost way to make your stay at Havasupai much more comfortable and give you water access 24/7!
Your hiking gear can make or break your Havasupai experience. Let’s make sure your hiking gear ADDS to the experience, rather than the opposite, shall we?
The backpack you choose to bring is probably the most important selection of anything on the packing list. You need to choose a backpack that is comfortable enough to hike 20 miles with, but also fits everything you’d like to bring.
We had the benefit of having 2 people, and therefore were able to split up carrying the shared items (camping gear, food, etc). We used the two below backpacks, which were selected for specific reasons:
This backpack we have talked about a few times on other posts. We have used it in the forest, in the desert, on the beach, and everywhere in between.
Why? Because of the versatility! The bottom pocket of the backpack is a cooler. We made it our rule that all of our food (minus hiking snacks) needed to fit in this cooler. And we succeeded!
We fit 4 days-worth of food (really 3.5 if we’re being technical) for both of us into that cooler pocket at the bottom of this bag. In the top pocket, we were able to fit almost all of our clothes and all of our toiletries. That left much less to pack in our other backpack.
What is Harvest Hosts?
Harvest Hosts is a network of free camping locations all over the USA! Wineries, breweries, farms, museums, and even golf courses. You can camp free at all of them! And even better, if you click this link you’ll get 15% off!
This backpack is nice because it is waterproof, so we were able to keep our camera gear and other electronics in this bag without worrying about weather.
This bag is also extremely durable and strong. We were able to attach our tent, tarp, and sleeping pad to the outside of the bag for the hikes.
If you are riding solo or are looking for an amazing bag for this experience, a traditional camping backpack like this one will work great also. Trips like Havasupai are what these bags were made for, we just prefer the flexibility of the ones above
Hiking Shoes / Boots
You are REALLY going to want to take care of your feet in Havasupai. There is not much worse than going on a hiking trip, especially one where you may hike over 40 miles, and not having proper footwear!
There are tons of options out there for shoes and boots, many of them very expensive. We don’t think you need to break the bank, Lord knows we always are looking for ways to save a buck.
These shoes worked perfectly for Zach, and they are unisex so you ladies can rock out in them also! However, if you already have some hiking boots or shoes, they should work fine.
The hike into and out of the campground does not involve any water crossings. However, that is absolutely not the case for all of the hikes in Havasupai.
There are 4 main attractions in Havasupai: Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, Beaver Falls, and Confluence. More on all of these later.
Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls are the bookends of the campsite, and you will not need to get wet to see each of these two magnificent falls. The same is NOT true for Beaver Falls and Confluence.
The hike to Beaver Falls involves 3 river crossings, and the Confluence (which is further down the trail from Beaver Falls) involved 5-10 additional crossings. What does this mean? You need some water shoes!
There are many shoes out there that are meant for hiking through water. Again, some options break the bank, but you don’t need to. Here are our recommendations.
Nope, not a mistake, these are the same shoes! They are meant to be used on land AND in water! That’s what made them perfect for Havasupai. If you have these you only need one set of shoes, saving all-important-space while packing!
Julie’s strategy for hiking was to have some hiking shoes and bringing along some water shoes she picked up at Wal Mart for about $10. This worked also, but not as well as only bringing one set of shoes in our opinion.
A good hat is NOT an optional accessory for your Havasupai trip. It is an absolute necessity.
These hats give your face and neck 360 degree protection from the sun, and we promise you are not going to beat the sun in the Grand Canyon. This is Arizona, remember. The sun has home field advantage here.
Since you need a hat, you might as well pick one that looks awesome. We LOVE the ones we have!
Again, not optional. Our water bladder was literally a lifesaver. We would have REALLY struggled with the hike without it.
A water bladder is the most efficient way to carry and consume water on a hike, so you will DEFINITELY want to pick one up before your Havasupai trip. We bought this one specifically for the trip, and have now used it on a ton of hikes through South Utah since then, we love it!
A hiking pole or two is an optional item, but definitely recommended. Zach has one he bought at Goodwill for $5, however if you don’t rock the thrift store lifestyle then you can definitely find some good low-cost options on Amazon.
The hikes in and out of the canyon get long, and you are going up and down a freaking CANYON. A stick to help take the pressure off your joints and keep your balance can be very helpful!
You are going to want to pack clothes for Havasupai. If you were planning on rocking your birthday suit the entire time, then WOW more power to you! But if you’re like us, you’ll want some pictures you can post on Instagram, and therefore you need some clothes along.
With that being said you HAVE TO minimize the clothes you bring. No bringing half your wardrobe PLEASE! You do NOT want to carry extra clothes 20 miles down and up the Grand Canyon. Here is every piece of clothing you’ll need.
Quick Tip: Pack everything you’ll need into your bag BEFORE departing for Havasupai. Do NOT pack once you get there. If you’re flying, have your backpack as one bag and put everything else you’ll need in your personal item or in another bag. Then leave everything you don’t need in the campsite in your car at the trailhead.
Warm Clothes – 1 set
You are going to want one warm long sleeve shirt and one pair of pants. Our recommendation: wear them for the hike in. These take up the most space in your bag, so wearing them means you can fit other stuff in the bag!
Also, the desert can get cold at night, so if you get your hike in going in the early morning, you’ll want warm clothes on! Depending on what time of year you’re going, you might even want a stocking cap and light gloves.
Check the weather forecast ahead of time to check whether you need a hat and gloves. Make sure to focus on the temperatures at night. If it is cold enough, you may want to pack along an additional sweatshirt. Sleeping while cold is tough, so better make sure you’re warm!
Swimsuit – 3 sets
Havasupai Creek is the most beautiful 10 miles of water we have EVER seen. We HAD to swim in it.
You will definitely want to get in once you come to Havasu Falls and Beaver Falls, they are SO pretty they just call you into the water! And even if you don’t want to swim, you’ll probably want to soak up some sun on your trip.
You could probably get away with 2 swimsuits, or even 1 if you don’t plan on diving in. However, swimsuits take up so little room, that we basically treated them as outfits (shorts for guys, bras/undies for gals) even if we weren’t swimming. It gave us some flexibility in our outfits!
Hiking Outfits – 3 sets
Havasupai and hiking go hand in hand. Of course you know that by now. SO you’ll need a few sets of hiking clothes!
If you want to save space (like we did) you can use a swimsuit or two as part of your hiking outfit, which will limit the other clothes you need to bring along.
As to what hiking clothes to bring, again you’ll want to check the weather forecast a few days before leaving. That will give you an idea of how warm you’ll need to dress.
Undergarments & Socks – 4 sets
When it comes to undergarments and socks, you can NEVER be too clean. We hate reusing these, it just feels icky putting used socks back on.
Also, undergarments barely take up any space, so bringing an extra pair just-in-case is not a big problem. Just our personal philosophy!
A rain jacket is only necessary if the forecast calls for rain on your trip. We personally didn’t bring one, even though it was supposed to rain for 1 night.
We didn’t have room for a jacket each, so we decided to suck it up and power through the rain. We hung out in our tent while the heavy stuff came down, and tried to ignore the light mist. Outside of that 1 night, the weather was PERFECT!
Food is SO SO critical to get right in Havasupai. And since there are literally endless options and pairings of what to eat, there are tons of schools of thought on this.
Our opinion: pack foods that are easy to cook, compact, filling, and full of energy. We set a volume limit for ourselves: all of our food (except hiking snacks) had to fit in the cooler pocket of one of our backpacks.
Here’s what we recommend bringing to cook & eat on your Havasupai experience.
This was our first experience with a Jetboil, and this bad boy was INCREDIBLE. We absolutely loved it. Our friend Tim, who hiked with us, had one, so we didn’t need to buy one, however now we really really want to.
We only needed a small fuel canister, which was easy to pack, and the Jetboil itself packs up very small. What’s more? It INCLUDES a container to cook in! Unbelievable!
All together about the size of a 32oz Gatorade, we were able to cook every meal. As for utensils, we grabbed some camping silverware for VERY cheap that worked perfectly for the trip. And we didn’t need any dishes because we could eat out of theJetboil!
We decided to organize our food by the day, and make sure every piece of food we brought had a purpose and a designated time to eat. Here’s what we ate each day!
Day 1 – Hike In & Havasu Falls
We started our hike at 6am, after eating a breakfast of coffee, bananas, granola bars, and yogurt cups in the car. Since we weren’t packing this in, it could be any size, and so we ate a big breakfast.
For lunch, once we got to Havasupai and set-up camp, we made summer sausage and cheese sandwiches on bagel thins, and had 1 clementine each.
For dinner, we fired up the Jetboil and cooked up some chili. We made it with some sliced up summer sausage, a can of chili beans, a can of diced tomatoes, and a packet of rice.
Day 2 – Beaver Falls & Mooney Falls
Breakfast on day 2 was a clementine, coffee (of course), and a granola bar. Since we packed lunch, and because we wanted to use the bagel thins, we again prepared some summer sausage and cheese sandwiches on bagel thins. We packed these into a bag and enjoyed them at Beaver Falls with another clementine and a granola bar.
For dinner, we again fired up the Jetboil for some rice sides. We cooked up some broccoli cheddar rice and ate like kings and queens!
Day 3 – Confluence
Day 3 started off with another nutritious breakfast of a clementine, coffee, and a granola bar. Are you sensing a theme?
The hike to confluence is the longest of all the hikes. 8 miles each way, for a total of 16 miles in one day. To make sure we took our time, we decided to pack lunch and dinner for the hike.
We got an early start right after breakfast, and made it to Confluence to enjoy our lunch of tuna tacos and an apple each. For dinner, we had summer sausage and cheese roll-ups with our 2 remaining tortillas.
For this hike, and for all of them really, we had hiking snacks along and munched on them as needed. More on that in a minute.
Breakfast on our final day was, you guessed it, a clementine, coffee, and a granola bar! We then started our hike out bright and early. Therefore, we didn’t need another meal throughout our time at Havasupai!
If you don’t bring enough food, there is a stand located near Havasu Falls that sells fry bread and tacos. However, you have to get there before they sell out, which occurred around 2:00pm while we were there, so go early if you can!
Of course, once we made it out of the canyon, we went straight to the nearest pizza joint and feasted our faces off, but that was more in celebration than anything else. We had just had the time of our lives, and NOT gone hungry doing it!
As mentioned, we did bring quite a few hiking snacks along. For us, we love a good trail mix, and brought 1 pretty sizable bag of it.
In addition, we had 3 bags of beef jerky and a big bag of sunflower seeds along. Finally, a bag of dried mangoes helped us keep the fruit present in our daily diets in Havasupai.
We enjoyed these snacks intermittently throughout the 4 days, and typically brought a few things to munch on during each daily hike.
Itemized List (for 2 people)
- 8 granola bars
- 4 bagel thins
- 1 summer sausage
- 8 slices cheese
- 8 clementines
- 2 packets rice sides (we chose broccoli cheddar flavored)
- 1 can beans
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 packet rice (plain, since we made chili with it)
- 2 tuna packets
- 4 tortillas
- 2 apples
- Trail Mix
- Beef Jerky
- Sunflower Seeds
- Dried Mango
It would have been EXTREMELY hard for us to go to one of the most BEAUTIFUL places on EARTH and not snap a few pictures. Therefore, we had to plan ahead on what camera equipment we were going to bring.
We had to each bring our phones, both for their picture-taking ability and because we’ve probably never been more than a few feet away from them.
With that being said, there is really no cell service in Havasupai, so be prepared to have 97% of your phones functions not available. Our strategy was to set them on airplane mode to save battery, and only use them to take pictures and videos.
We brought our Canon Rebel t6 camera, which we’ve used on all of our van life adventure. We had 2 lenses along, however we really only needed the standard lens. If you have a wide-angle lens, we’d suggest bringing that along as well.
Why was the tripod necessary? Great question. We did not need the tripod for any still pictures, however we DID need it for our open-shutter shots.
We LOVE open-shutter shots of waterfalls, when the water looks soft and beautiful in the background. In addition, open shutter is necessary for night photography. Havasu Falls and the starry night sky combined in 1 picture is just unfair. Is there a more beautiful sight on earth? Maybe, maybe not.
We brought our GoPro along for shots that might be wet, since it is waterproof! In addition, the GoPro captures excellent wide-angle shots, capturing all of the splendid scenery at Beaver Falls and the panorama of the Grand Canyon.
Mobile Charging Battery
We brought a mobile charging device along, just in case our camera, GoPro, or phones died. This bad boy could give 3 full charges, so it proved to be more than we needed, but better to have too much battery than too little!
We started this category with just a few things, which we were hoping to fit into a fanny pack, but it just seemed to keep growing! SO many miscellaneous items you’ll NEED to pack along with you.
Personal hygiene is important to us, ESPECIALLY when it comes to teeth. Therefore, it was absolutely imperative for us to bring toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash along.
In addition, deodorant and face wash were no-brainers, along with Julie’s lotion, contacts, lip balm, and hair brush. Of course this list will be person-specific, so bring what you’d like to, but remember to pack as small as possible!
Havasupai’s water is SO bright blue because of minerals present in the water, including lime. While it is BEAUTIFUL to look at, it can dry your skin, so best to bring some lotion along if you can!
Remember, this is Arizona. In Arizona, there is a sun, and that sun is BRIGHT and SHINING and HOT. Hotter than it is where you’re from, probably.
You absolutely do NOT want to get sunburned, especially on one of your first days. Spread some SPF 50 on each morning and have the time of your life without worrying about too much exposure!
Okay, you’re going to want a towel along, but PLEASE do not bring an entire huge beach towel. These take up so much space, and take so long to dry, not to mention are HEAVY when sopping wet.
Our advice: find a nice-sized microfiber towel to bring along. We brought 2 dish-towel-sized microfiber towels along and that worked just fine, but to be honest we would have preferred slightly larger towels.
However, given the circumstances, dish-towel-sized microfiber towels are 100 times better than big ol beach towels.
Just in case you get a scrape or some other boo-boo, it is best to have a few first-aid items. If you do forget these, it is likely that a neighboring camper should be able help you out, but just to be safe pack along a few band-aids.
Similar to band-aids, hopefully you won’t need to use it, but best to have along. Ibuprofen (or Tylenol, etc) is something that you don’t notice until you need it, then you NEED it. Throw a small bottle in your bag and forget about it until you (hopefully never) need it.
We didn’t need bug spray, but we packed along a small bottle just in case. We had heard from a few people that bugs were an issue, however in our personal experience there were basically no bugs bothering us at all. However, again this is a better-safe-than-sorry item that is easy to pack along.
It seems like almost all of the Miscellaneous items are better-safe-than-sorry, and toilet paper is no different. The bathrooms at Havasupai campground were stocked with TP all but 1 time nature called, and thank the Lord we had TP because that would have been miserable.
Waddling from one bathroom to another with a poopy butt praying that this stall has TP is a bad look. Talk about a situation you’ll want to avoid at ALL costs. Bring 1 small roll of TP along, for your sake and for the sake of everyone who doesn’t want to see this scene play out.
The smallest bottle you can find will do just fine. There is hand sanitizer at the bathrooms, but sometimes your hands may get dirty and you don’t want to truck all the way to the bathroom, which could be a few hundred yards depending on where you camp.
Flashlight / Headlamp
Getting around in the dark is difficult enough with a flashlight. Can you imagine stumbling to and from the bathroom at night without proper lighting? Don’t do it, you’ll stub your toe, run into a tree branch, or worse, fall into someone’s tent while they’re reading a graphic novel.
Do yourself a favor, pick up a good flashlight or headlamp. You won’t regret it, and your graphic-novel-reading-neighbor will be grateful.
You’ll also need a flashlight to do night photography of the waterfalls, if that’s something you’re interested in! More on that later…
2 Gallon Ziploc Bags (for garbage)
Havasupai rules dictate that you pack in and pack out everything, including garbage. There are NO places to dump your garbage in the campground, so you had better plan ahead on how to pack out your garbage.
Another benefit of the food list above? We generated very little trash, so it was easy to pack out in two gallon Ziploc bags!
We recommend Ziploc bags over a regular plastic bag because they zip up, and therefore contain the smell better. Not only is a smelly bag annoying for you, but it may attract critters. Best to contain that smell as best you can! Plus a few big Ziplocs are so easy to roll-up and pack along.
Deck of Cards
Of course, this is optional. However, we had a BLAST playing cards as we cooked dinner after a day exploring everything we could on Havasu Creek. It was a great way to unwind before crawling into our tents and getting our beauty sleep! And a deck of cards is small enough that it shouldn’t be difficult to pack along.
Hiking In and Out
The hike into Havasupai Campground is 10 miles, all of which includes about a 1 mile decrease in elevation. We STRONGLY recommend getting this hike started as early in the morning as possible on your first day.
Getting started early means you will maximize your time in Havasupai AND get first dibs on an awesome campsite, but more importantly, you will get ahead of the Arizona heat. You do not want to be hiking in the heat of the afternoon through the desert with a big backpack, that’s a fact.
As for the hike out, we felt our priorities were conflicting. We wanted to stay as long as possible, but didn’t want to be hiking during the afternoon. On the day of our hike out, the forecast was over 90 degrees, so we begrudgingly decided to hike out right away in the morning.
However, if you have enough food to last the final day, and the weather is much more manageable, there is nothing wrong with spending your morning along Havasu creek and hiking out during the afternoon!
2 Other Options
We feel obligated to mention that there are two options for hiking in and out that you can take advantage of, however we encourage you to not utilize them.
First off, you can rent a mule to carry your pack in and out of the campsite. If you do this, all you will have to hike is yourself, and some water and snacks for the hike.
However, we strongly suggest you don’t use this. In our opinion, it is poetic to carry your own pack, full of EVERYTHING you need to survive in the wild! It feels like you are a strong, sustainable, independent human being capable of anything! (Which for us is of course not true, but still fun to think).
Also, to be honest, these mules spend their entire days trudging up and down the Grand Canyon with packs on their back. Does that sound fun to you? Best to just plan ahead, pack lightly, and strap that pack to your own back!
The second option is to take a helicopter in and out. This option seems pretty cool actually, and a better option than the mule for sure, however we chose not to partake.
First off, it was a bit expensive, a budget buster. Second, the line was ENORMOUS.
On the day we hiked out, we literally beat people to the top that took the helicopter. These people left the campsite before us, took a helicopter to the top, and still lost to us! That’s how long the line was.
In our opinion, the helicopter is cool for window-shopping, but not a great choice. It is a bright, shiny object that looks amazing but isn’t all that cool in reality.
Choosing a Campsite
This was one of our absolute favorite parts of camping in Havasupai. The campground is a camp-wherever-you-want campsite, and every spot is first-come first-serve.
Now, remember that there are a ton of spots being vacated each day. Consider that many people pack up and leave right away in the morning, leaving prime real estate up for grabs every single day!
This is a prime reason to get to the campground as quickly as possible on your first day. Another thing to keep an eye on is the location of the spring water, and the campsite bathrooms. There are bathrooms located in a few places throughout the campsite, but only one location for spring water. Make sure you know where both are and choose a site accordingly!
When you do get to the campsite, located between Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls, we recommend you do what we did, which was to find a campsite with 5 things, in order of importance.
- Flat ground for tent
- High enough ground to avoid flooding
- Picnic table access
- Location to hang hammock
- Beautiful view
Of course, you do not want to set-up your tent at an angle. That is an easy recipe for an awful night’s sleep.
The first campsite we found met all the criteria above except number 2. The site was right by the creek, and we considered that during a heavy rain we could get a bit wet, so we decided against that site. Good thing, because after a rain night 1, we walked by that site and it was a tad soupy…
Quick Tip: Campers are required to tie a tag to their tents. These tent tags are different colors, which indicate the day they arrived. Therefore, you can use the tag colors to identify whether a camper is leaving that day. If they have an awesome campsite and are leaving that day, head up and talk to them and see if you can grab that spot when they leave!
Picnic table access was HUGE for us. We cooked with our Jetboil, and didn’t want to be doing food prep and cooking on the ground. We also enjoyed playing cards into the late afternoon, and the picnic table was a perfect game table.
If you have a hammock along, you are sure as heck going to want to use it! So, you’ll need a campsite that has a location with 2 trees not too far away. There were many such spots in the campground, so if you look hard enough you should be able to find one.
Finally, every single site in Havasupai is visually stunning, so number 5 should be no problem. In our experience, we arrived at 10:00am and got a spot that fit all 5 of our criteria. This home base was PERFECT for us and enabled us to have an INCREDIBLE experience each day in Havasupai!
Hiking Havasu Creek
Folks, we are almost 6 THOUSAND WORDS IN and just getting to the INCREDIBLE hikes that make Havasupai so so special. Props to you for making it this far!
There are 4 main destinations you’ll want to visit on your trip: Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, Beaver Falls, and Confluence (the conjoining of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River).
These are listed in geographical order. The first thing you’ll come across is Havasu Falls in all its glory. As you follow the creek to the Confluence, you’ll come across the Mooney and Beaver Falls, both absolutely stunning in their own right.
Another point: since these are in geographical order, they are also listed in order of difficulty to hike to. Havasu Falls being the easiest and Confluence the most challenging.
Havasu Falls is the prize you get to see right as you make your approach into the Havasu Campgrounds. It is extremely difficult to put into words just how ridiculously beautiful this waterfall over the red canyons is, but that won’t stop us from trying.
It is so stupid beautiful that we felt ugly just looking at it. Crystal blue water flowing over and through red rock canyons, surrounded by lush green scenery, falling 100 feet into a deep blue pool below, cascading into countless waterfalls, all surrounded by a cloudless Arizona sky.
How could something so pretty even exist, it isn’t fair. For us, it challenged Plitvice Lakes as the best single place on earth.
Because this is located right at the entrance to the campsite, and is in our opinion the most beautiful single waterfall on earth, we recommend going at least a few times.
It is not a challenge to get there each day, so it can be a great place to have a quick swim, or just sit and stare in awe at for a few minutes/hours/day/etc.
Mooney Falls is located at the opposite end of the Havasu Campground from Havasu Falls. Since this is a stream flowing one way, the end of the campsite is actually the TOP of Mooney Falls…don’t fall over, we beg you.
Don’t swim near any of the huge falls, or stretch yourself for the ‘perfect’ selfie. The perfect selfie is one you live to show other people!
Mooney Falls is even more impressive than Havasu Falls, as it is TWICE the height, at 200 feet tall! However, if you want to get to the base of the falls, there is a climb down that is nothing to sneeze at.
You will have to hike down some steps in a canyon cave, followed by a 60 foot or so descent to the bottom. This final descent is the challenging portion, which does involve the use of a few ladders and chains bolted into the side of the mountain.
It isn’t treacherous, we felt safe and in control the whole way down, just take your time and use all the hand-holds and foot-holds built in. However, you should only take this on if you feel comfortable. If you do, the reward at the bottom is absolutely stunning.
Beaver Falls is in our opinion the best destination along Havasu Creek. Beaver Falls is a cascading series of waterfalls and crystal pools surrounded by lush greenery and the steep canyon walls.
This place should be on a puzzle. Matter-of-fact, it should be on EVERY puzzle. Any puzzle that doesn’t have Beaver Falls on it just doesn’t stack up.
This splendid paradise is located a 3 mile hike down Havasu Creek from Mooney Falls. We recommend making Beaver Falls your main destination for 1 full day. We chose to spend 4 hours here on Day 2 of our trip, and then we hung at Mooney Falls for an hour or so on our return to the campsite from Confluence.
Pack your lunch, hike in the morning, and spend as much time as possible soaking in Beaver Falls, both visually and literally. Take a swim, walk through the pools, lay out in the sun, relax, and unwind in paradise.
The final destination, and most challenging to get to, is Confluence. This is where Havasu Creek ends, as it flows into the Colorado River.
What is amazing about the Confluence is the mixing of the brown water of the Colorado with the bright blue waters of Havasu. The two crash together but don’t mix, almost like a swirl of chocolate ice cream and cotton candy flavored frozen yogurt.
It is an incredible sight to see, however you pay the price to get here. 8 miles each way, and more than a few creek crossings. You will DEFINITELY have to lace up your water shoes for this hike.
Full Disclosure: If you aren’t a big hiker, this would be the one destination we might put on the chopping block. It is a challenging hike, and will take the full day to go out and back. We would not blame you for spending more time at Havasu, Mooney, and Beaver Falls instead.
In our opinion, you should pack lunch AND dinner, so that you stay fueled up for the entire hike. Make sure to bring more than enough water as well, you do NOT want to be caught dehydrated hiking this bad boy.
Also, we ran into a slight issue on our hike. The day we went to Confluence, there was a group of people who were doing a raft expedition down the Colorado that were checking out Havasu creek.
This was all well and good, except that they perked their rafts RIGHT WHERE THE CREEK AND RIVER JOINED. Absolutely awful, they blocked most of the view.
We asked them to move a bit, and we were able to get a few good pics, but it was a little annoying to say the least. I mean park your rafts LITERALLY ANYWHERE ELSE RUFKM!
With that being said, we still had an AWESOME time hiking to Confluence, and the reward at the end is truly incredible. Something you can find nowhere else on earth, no place we’ve been anyways.
Havasupai is a place like nowhere else on earth. You will get pictures unlike pictures you can get anywhere else!
As such, this is a photographer’s paradise, any Instagrammer’s wet dream. Here are a few helpful tips to get unique, stunning photos that would make Ansel Adams jealous!
We personally love the open-shutter photos of waterfalls, leading to soft water shots. We find these photos visually stunning and a great way to capture a site in a unique way.
Quick Tip: For any open-shutter photography, you will have to keep the camera absolutely still. This is almost impossible without using a tripod, so use a tripod. Also, it is helpful to set your camera to a 2-second timer, so that you do not move the camera by clumsily pressing buttons, something we have first-hand experience with.
To accomplish this, decrease your shutter speed to between a half second and 2 seconds, depending on the lighting at the time. You may have to alter aperture (F-stop) depending on the situation, we recommend experimenting until you get the shot of a lifetime!
An extremely underrated part of Havasupai is the night sky. Since you’ll be located hundreds of miles from the nearest major city, there will be zero light pollution taking away from the starry sky.
Now, taking a picture of that starry night sky is a challenge. It may involve some experimentation, but if you get it right you will get the picture of your dreams! Get it, dreams…night sky…bad joke. If you read our blogs often, you’re used to that.
To get a shot of the night sky in Havasupai, you’ll want to set your shutter speed to about 20 seconds, and your ISO to around 1600-2400. Set your aperture (F-stop) number to as small as possible, ideally under 4.0.
You may have to experiment with these numbers a bit, but you should be really close with these parameters. One thing you’ll also have to optimize is your focus. Try a few shots, altering your focus to get it right.
To go next-level, you have to get a shot that has the starry sky AND a beautiful waterfall in the foreground. To do this, you’ll use the exact same settings, but during the shot, you’ll have to shine a flashlight onto the falls.
Your camera will take in this light, combine it with the star-light coming from millions of miles away, and spit out something so stupid beautiful you’ll be proud you had a hand in creating it.
There You Have It!
So concludes our 7500 word manifesto on Havasupai. Everything you need to know, want to know, or maybe didn’t want to know, about hiking and camping along Havasu Creek.
In all seriousness, this was one of the top 3 outdoor experiences of our lives. You will have an ABSOLUTE blast, the time of your lives, on your own Havasupai experience.
Plan ahead, take your time, and make sure to soak up every bit of Havasu Creek you can get your eyes on, you will not regret it.
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