Pictures of Havasu’s enchanting waterfalls and streams are flooded on the internet. Yet, very few people have experienced its grandeur and know about the stressful logistics in planning for a visit. Not to be confused with Lake Havasu City, as that is over 3 hours away. I blindly planned a trip and now see why so many people are repeat visitors. You really don’t know what to expect and most likely very unprepared. The reason being is that it’s on a remote Indian Reserve, with very little publicity and information available. Definitely not a place that seeks tourists – adventurists seek Havasu. Havasu means blue-green water and Supai means people, therefore the Havasupai tribe are people of the blue-green water.
In order to visit you need a permit, which isn’t an easy task. To get a permit from the local Havasupai tribe you need to first register on their website, havasupaireservations.com. Currently, there is a three-night minimum stay, at $100 per weeknight and $125 per weekend night. Camping reservations (includes visitor’s permit) go on sale on February 1st and sell out in minutes for the year. You cannot make a reservation over the phone. Reservations for the lodge goes on sale on June 1, you can also call (928) 448-2111. It is $145 nightly (up to four people per room), a visitor permit must be purchased separately for $50 per person. Don’t expect to get through to anyone right way or for superior customer service. There are no kitchens or restaurant at the lodge. The difference between the two is that the campsite is located near the first falls. The lodge is located in the Supai village, which is not scenic at all and two miles away from the falls- but you will get a proper shower.
*Please see website for current rates, minimum stay requirements and changes to sale dates.
I would recommend flying into Phoenix Sky Harbour airport (5hr drive) or Las Vegas McCarran airport (4.5hr drive). Havasu is located in a very area remote area, the nearest town is over an hour away from the trailhead. Depending on which direction you are coming from on route 66, I recommend getting a good meal in Peach Springs or Segliman. After that it is a 1.5 hr drive through nothingness to the trailhead at the Hualapai Hilltop.
Once you get to the trailhead there is a restroom and a parking lot. You can take a helicopter flight to the reserve for $85 per person (subject to change). It is on a first come, first serve basis, the tribe members have first priority. It operates from 10am – 1pm and does not have daily service in the winter months. From October to March, it operates every Friday and Sunday. Airwest only has one plane that seats 7 people for this route and it is normally packed with items for the tribe. You can pay cash or credit card for a fee*. It is a gorgeous 5-minute flight. The helicopter will drop you off at the Supai village.
The other option is hiking through the canyon, it is a treacherous 8-mile hike. There are no restrooms, stores or water. Once you arrive at the village, you must check in at the visitors center to get a wristband and a tag for your tent if you are camping.
Then it is another 2-mile hike to the campsite and the first falls, Havasu Falls. Thereafter 1 mile to Mooney Falls, from there 3 miles to Beaver Falls and then another 4 miles to the Colorado river confluence. The most accessible is Havasu waterfall. At Mooney waterfalls you have to walk down a narrow walkway through a cave and ladders with only chains to hold onto, and tends to get slippery. To get to Beaver falls you will have two water crossings through Havasu Creek, the first crossing can be avoided by going on a wobbly bridge.
I recommend reviewing the ‘Tourism Code’ on the tribe’s website, as the area is governed by the Tribe’s civil jurisdiction. Please note drugs, alcohol, weapons, and drones are illegal on this Indian Reservation. You must carry all of your garbage out of the Canyon. No campfires are allowed.
The area is prone to flash floods, when you check in you will be advised where to set-up camp due to this, I suggested taking heed. In the summer the weather can peak at 115 degrees. Just my luck as I could only get a winter reservation and there was a cold-front (17-degree lows). It snowed, which supposedly rarely happens.
You can get outfitted by companies like https://www.aoa-adventures.com. Getting your gear to village, either on your own, via pack-mule or helicopter. It’s $40 (subject to change), to fly your gear into the village. It is on a first come, first serve basis, and must be under 70lb. Pack mule reservations must be done online and cost $400 round trip. I recommend joining a Facebook community for Havasu, to see if anyone wants to share the pack mule costs. (Also camping/lodge reservations are currently transferable, you can see posts on community sites for resale). Visitors must drop bags by 10 am at the trailhead, the packs arrive at the campsite around 3p. For the return, you have to drop bags by 7 am or there is a fee for later runs. There are designated bag drop areas. The only thing you will find on the campsite is a bathroom and a fresh water stream for drinking. There is normally a picnic table near Mooney Falls that camper leave behind any gear that they don’t want to carry down the canyon.
In the village there is a cafeteria and a market, prices are a little high and there are no healthy options. On your way to Havasu falls, there are fried bread stands.
Don’t Get Deterred!
Visiting Havasu is an amazing experience, but I definitely suggest being prepared for a very unique experience, that definitely is not glamorous by any means. But the end you will be so beat and walking the ‘Havasu Shuffle’, but will walk away with great memories.