The day I saw those blue-green waterfalls on Pinterest was the day I knew Slade and I had to add Havasupai to our bucket list. Six months later we were heading into the canyon for one of the coolest adventures of our lives!
There simply are not enough pretty words to paint the picture of the sheer beauty found on the Havasupai land. The falls are like no other I’ve ever seen or heard of, and if you can make this camping trip happen, you must!
Fortunately, thanks to the good ole’ world wide web, there are countless blogs written up that tell you ‘Everything You Need to Know about Havasu’. Google can lead you to multiple places to read about the gear you need, gear you don’t, costs of permits, how to get your permit, directions to the Havasu Hilltop, where the last place is to stop for gas, cost of mules carrying your packs in and out of the canyon, how to find the best camp spots, where drinking water is found, where there is none… On and on and on.
From my own research experience, I found the process daunting. And I do this kind of work for a living! The truth of the matter is, the world itself is always changing and updating. So while it is so important to prepare and educate yourself to the best of your ability, like most experiences, you’ll never fully know until you go. Just by reading up on Havasupai, you’ll never know the true colors of the water, the way of the Havasu people and culture, or (not to skip ahead but) not to carry down so much water! Some blogs are outdated, others were very helpful, some were inaccurate, some fact, some opinion.
To simplify for any readers seriously thinking about adding Havasu to their list, I decided write up this post and just hit a few quick highlights about what Slade and I were glad we knew and wish we had known better. And of course, I’d be happy to answer any questions for anyone who has them!
The first mile into the canyon, you descend 1,000 feet. In turn, the last mile out you’re climbing 1,000 feet back up. The hike out of the canyon leading up to this point was not very challenging for us, but that last mile was pretty hard!! Make sure to have enough water in your pack and food in your stomach for this. We underestimated that last mile!
Only carry down the water you’ll need for the first 10 miles of hiking. We read conflicting notes about this from previous campers and decided to play it safe and bring all the water we thought we might need for 2-3 nights. Mistake. Our bags were so much more heavy than necessary!At mile 8 you hit the reservation, where you can stop and reload on anything you could possibly need: water, a cheese burger, frozen gator-aid, power bars, fruit, candy bars… theres a fully loaded store there! So carry down cash, it’s much lighter.
Finally, once you reach the campground, there is not only a constant flow of water available to all campers (we read you can’t depend on this water source, so take this with a grain of salt, but we didn’t have any issues with it), but there are little huts where you can buy all kinds of food and drink! Not to take away from the camping experience, because besides utilizing the water spout we didn’t utilize these things, but you should know that they are available!
Helicopter vs. Hiking? Make the hike down. This is an equally breathtaking part of the experience as are the falls. However, had I read accurate information beforehand, we may have considered a helicopter out of the canyon. Part of me doesn’t want to say this, because the hike up was truly rewarding and gave us this huge sense of accomplishment, but the helicopter ride out probably would have had some killer views too! And for only $80, it just might have been worth it.
Note: When we were there (April of 2018) the pilot flew all days of the week besides Tuesday and Wednesday. So if you plan to take the helicopter out, plan accordingly. Also remember you cannot make this reservation ahead of time, so you’ll have to wait in line AND you cannot depend on the flight, because if it’s too windy, they’ll call it a day and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. So even if you plan to fly out, know that you may still be hiking!
I personally think two nights is the perfect stay. Of course this would be one of those measly opinions on the internet, but I will say you can get everything done in 2 nights if you wanted to save the money. One night for me would have been too short, because we really enjoyed not feeling rushed. Three nights would have been great, too, because you have more relaxing time, but two nights is just as doable. Just in my opinion!
When hiking to Beaver and Moony falls, the BEST way to do it is with two pair of shoes. One for water, and one for land. You’ll have to cross over the river multiple times over the course of those 6 miles, and me and Slade definitely did it all wrong. I had on hiking boots, and he had his Chaco’s. When we were crossing the river, I was in trouble, and when we were on land, Slade was wishing he had his boots.
Once when we were crossing the river, I saw one guy wearing water shoes and a backpack with his boots strapped to the top. He would change between shoes each time he crossed the river. Sounds a little monotonous, I know, but that’s how we wish we had done that hike!
So, plan for water shoes and boots! Unless your husband plans on carrying you across a river multiple times… Slade has since been entered to win Husband of the Year Award!!