In 2018, I scored permits for two of my best friends and I to go visit Havasupai in late March. The world-famous Havasupai waterfalls are located in a remote area of the Grand Canyon on the Havasupai reservation. Accessible only by a 10-mile hike each way, these falls get their popularity from the bright turquoise color of the water. Created by the high levels of calcium-carbonate and limestone, the water looks straight out of a painting as it cascades down the bright-red rock of the American Southwest. It is no wonder that the Havasupai Tribe has made this area their home for the past 800+ years. And it is no wonder that this area has become a bucket-list destination for adventure-seekers of all ages!
In this blog post, I’ve put together a running list of tips & tricks that I wish I would have known before my trip. Have any more questions? Be sure to email me at email@example.com or leave a comment on the post below!
Post last updated: September 29, 2019
In order to visit Havasupai, you must have a permit. Even if you do not plan on spending the night, but rather making the trip as one long day hike, you cannot visit the area without a permit.
Permits can be acquired from the Havasupai Tribe Reservations website. Permits for the entire year are released on February 1 at 8:00am Arizona time. Have your dates ready when the permits open up, but be prepared to be flexible. All three of us were on the website when the permits opened up at 8am, and I was the only one that was able to actually score them, albeit for different dates than we originally planned.
Historically, you could not sell or transfer your Havasupai permits once they were purchased. In 2019, however, this process changed, and the website now sells cancelled permits. Once you sign up and create an account on the website, you can see the current available dates.
As of 2019, the prices were as follows:
$100 per person per weekday night;
$125 per person per weekend night (Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights)
These prices include all necessary permits, fees, and taxes. All reservations are for 3 Nights / 4 Days, regardless of how long you actually want to visit for. This means that all visits (a 3 Night / 4 Day stay) will be a total of between $300 and $375 per person (depending upon how many weekend nights are included).
Pro tip: Make sure to be on a desktop computer when you try to get your permits on February 1. When I tried for permits in 2018, I initially started on my phone’s browser. Nothing was coming up for about 15 minutes – until I logged onto Facebook and saw that somebody had commented on a hiking page that the mobile website was down. Had we been on a desktop, we might have gotten the permits that we wanted quicker!
The Havasupai Trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop is located in a very remote stretch of the Southwestern Grand Canyon. The closest “town” to the trailhead is Peach Springs, 67.5 miles away. Peach Springs has one gas station, one hotel, and a booming population of 1,090.
We elected to spend the night at a hotel in Kingman, Arizona, 118 miles away from the trailhead. We woke up super early and were on the road by 5am. We got to the trailhead around 7:30am and were hiking by 8am. A lot of hikers decide to spend the night at the trailhead (in their car) to ensure an early start time, but with three people sharing one sedan for a week, that definitely wasn’t going to work for us. Keep in mind that there is nowhere to pitch a tent at the trailhead, so all overnighters there will have to take place in a car.
Indian Road 18:
Although the trailhead is located in a super remote area of the Grand Canyon, the speed limit on the way in is only 55 mph. My best advice? Don’t speed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much wildlife on the road than I did on the ride into Havasupai. We must have seen hundreds of cows, deer, and rabbits – I’m honestly surprised that we didn’t hit anything. Granted, we did drive to the trailhead at dawn, when wildlife tends to be the most active, but even when we drove back in the middle of the afternoon, we still saw a ton of animals. As slow as 55 mph feels, it’s worth it. Hitting a deer or cow at that speed can be much more dangerous than you think!
There is a spring down at the campground that provides free drinking water for campers. I’ve heard of people filtering it, but for the most part, I think that most people just drink straight from it. I have an extremely sensitive stomach, but, like most people I know who also deal with regular stomach problems, I do little to nothing about it, and thus did not bother to filter the water – and I was fine!
For our trip down to the Confluence, we brought our water filter, but ended up packing enough for the entire day. The trip down to the Confluence and back is roughly 16 miles, so if you don’t have anything to treat your water, be sure to pack enough to sustain you for the day! If you are in the market for a water filter, I would recommend the Sawyer Squeeze or MSR Miniworks water filtration systems.
Also, be sure to pack enough water for the hike down and up. There is no water for all 8 miles each way (between the trailhead and village). Make sure that you are conscious about how much water that you bring depending on what time of the year you go. I brought 3L for the hike in and 5L for the hike out, and that worked out well for me. Keep in mind, though, that I went in late March, when the weather was still relatively mild.
Remember, what goes down, must come up (or something like that…). The hike to Havasupai is unique in that on the way in, you’ll be descending down into the Grand Canyon. Although it is a 10-mile hike down to the campground from the trailhead, it feels super easy considering the fact that it is all downhill or “flat.” On the way back up, however, you’ll realize that those “flat” parts weren’t so flat after all – you’ll be on an incline the whole way back. Keep in mind that the hardest part of the hike is also at the very end – those switchbacks are no joke!
Be sure to start early on the way back and bring enough water, regardless of when you visit. Remember that there is no water between the village of Supai and the trailhead, so make sure that you pack enough to get you all the way back to your car!
Again, please keep in mind that this is a running list – if you have any questions that I can answer, feel free to send them my way! Comment on the post below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.