Located in a remote arid location, small Supai Village community, red-rock Havasu Canyon with running water year around and the amazing waterfalls with blue and turquoise water make this hike as one of the most beautiful places in the US and in my top all-time favorite hikes.
Havasupai means people of the blue-green waters, they received this name from the color of the river passing through their small remote village near the Colorado River.
The spectacular waterfalls and isolated community within the remote Havasupai Indian Reservation attract thousands of visitors each year.
All visitors must have a permit prior their arrival, I wrote extensive explanation below on all different aspects of getting permit, hiking and camping in this amazing location.
The population of the Havasupai Tribe is around 600 people, living in the small Supai Village located in Havasu Canyon. Tourism is their main source of living, this include mules’ services, accommodation, stores and caffe.
Please respect the people, their traditions, request and regulation, you are visiting their home.
Located on the south rim of the Grand Canyon Colorado River.
The only access to Supai Village is by walking or flying. No roads have ever been built here.
From Las Vegas:
drive to Kingman, AZ and get on I-40 East. Take exit 53, turn left, and follow Route 66 east for 54 miles. Turn left onto Indian Highway 18 and continue 60 miles north to the end of the road.
Drive to Ash Fork, AZ and get on I-40 West. Take exit 123 to Seligman. Follow Route 66 for 30 miles. Turn right onto Indian Highway 18 and continue 60 miles north to the end of the road.
The small town of Peach Springs (highway 66) offers the nearest services to Havasupai. You can find here hotel, gas, water, and a very limited selection of food.
Indian Highway 18 is 60 miles long and it pass through the large forest and high arid desert section of the Colorado River south rim. The road passes through open cuttle range so drive slowly.
During winter you can expect snow.
There are currently no public transportation options to/from the trailhead.
The closest gas stations is in Peach Springs (Highway 66) but it may not be open.
Make sure that you fill your gas tank at Kingman or Seligman before entering highway 66.
This can be total of 200 miles from I-40 to the trailhead and back.
The scenic beauty of Havasu Canyon and waterfalls is awesome all year around but peak tourist season is May through September.
Cooler months of the year are probably the ideal time to visit with less people and it is not so hot. If coming during the winter months, make sure you are comfortable to hike and camp in near freeze conditions.
In the winter you should expect to have snow on your way to the trailhead. The lower canyon itself is warmer also during the winter months.
The summer months can be very hot, and you need to plan your visit accordingly. Start your hikes in and out the canyon as early as you can in the morning when it is much cooler, and the trail is shaded. In any case bring a lot of water with you.
During summer months, temperatures can reach up to 115 degrees. Trails into Supai will be closed when the temperature exceeds 115 degrees.
The water temperature is roughly 70 degrees all year long.
Permit related notes:
Reservations are required for anyone who enters the Havasupai Indian Reservation. You must have a permit before your visit.
During 2023 you need to get permit via the cancellations process. People that already have a permit but cancel it, releasing it back to other.
You need to check each day at 8am (AZ) in your account website for campground reservations available for transfer.
Permits are taken up fast after becoming available, so check exactly at 8am for available slots.
Permit cost is about fixed price $360 per person for 4 days and 3 nights.
For 2023 an account with Havasupai Reservations is required to be create in:
ALL visitors (even if they are not a Trip Leader) must have an account on HavasupaiReservations.com made PRIOR to arrival so that they have confirmed their understanding of, and agreement with, Havasupai Rules and Laws.
There is only ONE name on a Campground Reservation - and a reservation is only valid if the person named on the reservation (the "Trip Leader") is present at the Tourist Check-in Office with valid photo ID - otherwise the reservation is NOT valid and will NOT be honored.
If a Trip Leader is unable to be present at check-in, they may use the official Transfer System here at HavasupaiReservations.com to transfer their reservation either directly to a PATL or via the public Cancellation / Transfer List.
Reservations are non-refundable, non-changeable, and non-transferable.
Campground Reservation pricing is per person and includes all necessary permits, fees, and taxes.
Campground Reservations are only valid on and between the arrival and departure dates of your Campground Reservation
As of 2023 you need to get your visit permit at Grand Canyon Caverns Hotel on highway 66, 10 miles east of the city of Peach Springs.
The office is open every day 8am to 5pm.
You can get the permit the day before or on the day of your reservation.
You must have the permit and personal hand wristbands to get to the trailhead.
During 2023 you get the permits in Grand Canyon Caverns hotel, so you do not need to do check-In at Supai Village.
There is road checkpoint for permits, 5 miles before the end-of-the-road parking lot.
You need a permit to hike, the permit is not only for spending the night.
I saw that it is not allowed to hike in and out at the same day without staying one night at the campground. This is probably the same if you are using the Helicopter ride in both directions.
Night hiking is NOT permitted.
You must pay for a minimum of three nights, even if you plan to stay only two nights.
Supai Village Lodge:
As of April 17, 2023: Due to construction delays, the Havasupai Lodge is not ready for tourists as we had hoped.
We expect the Havasupai Lodge to be open for tourists in July 2023.
Lodge rate of $1,980 per room for 4 days/3 nights. Each room has 2 queen beds that sleeps up to 4 adults.
Havasupai is a sovereign Native American nation with its own rules, customs, laws, and way of life - please be respectful of the land, the people, and your fellow visitors.
Any violation of any Rule or Law may result in immediate termination of all permits for everyone included on all related Campground Reservations.
This area is outside the boundary and jurisdiction of Grand Canyon National Park.
Tribe requires all visitors wear a mask while in Supai Village public areas, including the store and the café. Please bring your own mask.
There is no cell phone coverage at Hualapai Hilltop trailhead, when hiking in the canyon, at the campground and down the river. There is cellphone reception in Supai village itself.
You can buy food and drinks in Supai village general store or caffe or at the few places selling food and drinks, you must use cash.
Photography of Supai Village or Havasupai people is strictly prohibited.
Dogs, pets, or other animals are not allowed.
Other Indian Reservation regulations: No drones, no alcohol, no drugs, no weapons, no rock climbing, no cliff jumping, no nudity, no amplified music.
We spend the night before our hike at Hualapai Lodge, Peach Spring (highway 66), another nearby option is at Grand Canyon Caverns (where you take the permit from).
You can also sleep in Kingsman or Seligman on I-40.
Arriving and Parking at Hilltop:
5 miles before the end of the road there is a checkpoint for reservation for all people in the group. Do remember that this is Indian Reservation, and you must flow all the local rules and regulations.
You need to provide your license plate number at the permit office and put the approval on your dashboard.
There few parking lot at the end of the road but they may be all full and you will need to park along the road (off the paved road).
Do not park in the parking area by the helipad (it is only for members of the Havasupai Tribe).
RV parking is tight, but you can find some parking spot on the roadside before the main parking lots.
There is NO camping at Hilltop. That includes no sleeping in your vehicle at Hilltop.
It is common to see that people are using a mule to carry their backpack to the campground and on the way up.
We did not use this option and prefer to carry all our stuff in and out so I can’t share a lot of personal information about this option.
You must reserve and pay for the mule when you get your permit.
Mule reservations will be confirmed at check-in. Mule reservations are non-refundable.
One pack mule can carry up to four bags and you must pay the round-trip fee.
Once you arrive to the trailhead go the small office at the last parking lot, the person will tag your bag and have you drop it outside.
The bag will arrive at the entrance to the campground.
When we were there (April 2023) it was not clear if the campground bag collection/drop off is right at the campground entrance or ¼ of a mile up the river just before the non-finished bridge.
When you are going back out up the canyon you need to drop off your luggage at the same place you picked it up before 7 AM. It will arrive between 11 AM – 1 PM at Hilltop.
Fly to Havasupai
Helicopter flights cannot be reserved, it is a first-come first-served basis and tribal members get priority boarding.
Do NOT make flight as you only option. Bad weather or other reason can cancel the flights and you will need to hike.
Helicopters make the 10-minute journey between Supai Village and Hualapai Hilltop on a non-stop basis starting at 8am until around the afternoon.
The helicopter lend in the center of the village, so it is noisy over there all day long.
If you bag weigh less than 40 pound you can take it with you without extra charge.
Helicopter Price: I think that in 2023, a one-way helicopter flight was $100.
The hike itself to the campsite is 10 miles long, it is not over challenging and most people that are in shape can do it. The only challenge section is when you climb up from the lower river canyon to the hilltop on your way back.
Another challenging section is the way down to Mooney Falls, this may be over the ability for people with fear of heights or non-stable walking. But this section is not mandatory and you can enjoy the visit without climbing this section (second day).
The trail is well maintained and clear, mainly loss gravel and sand, desert trail with some rock sections. A total roundtrip elevation change of nearly one mile.
On your day of departure, you must start hiking out from the parking lot no later 2 pm.
Plan on 5-6 hours for the hike in and 5-7 hours for the hike out.
You need to have about 3 Liter per person for your hike.
Water is NOT available at the trailhead or along the trail first 8 miles.
Depending on the time of the day you can have shade (more in the early morning) or exposed to sun sections.
The trail is clear, and you can’t get lost, follow the trails path in the riverbed and in the canyon.
Mules and horses ALWAYS have the right of way.
Be alert and be aware of your surroundings when they are coming from behind you, clear the trail to the side and walk to a safe distance from the mules.
The section of trail between the Hilltop Trailhead and the Village of Supai is closed each night between sunset and 4:00 a.m., night hiking is NOT permitted.
Early morning hiking is recommended, especially during the hot summer months to avoid the peak heat of the day.
You must stay at the campground area of the canyon (2 miles after the village) or the lodge. Camping anywhere else is illegal.
The campground is about mile long on both sides of the river. You can cross the river over logs or shallow water in few locations.
This is not marked tent-site campground; you do not get a campsite number with your hiking reservation.
You are welcome to set up camp anywhere within the Campground area that is safe and respectful of the land and your fellow campers.
In many campsites you will find a camping table.
To find your campsite just walk and look for empty camping spot.
You can camp near the river but then you will have stronger noise from the running water.
For most of the campground area there are trees, and you will have less trees as you walk down the river.
Most people stay at the first section of the campground, it is nicer, near large restrooms and the spring. If you want less people around walk to the far side of the campground.
There are restrooms in the campground, located in 3 points along the way.
There is a spring (Fern Spring) that you can fill your water. I saw that people are not filtering the spring water, but I always filter my water.
You can also filter the water from the river.
Gas canister backpacking cooking stoves are ok, but all other types of flame/fire are NOT permitted.
No campfire is allowed. We did saw that rangers allowing people to do campfire to get rid of access trees after the flooding.
While there are NOT any bears in Havasupai, there are plenty of other critters that will be relentless in their attempts to get into your food and trash. You are responsible for not letting them do so.
Do not feed ANY animals when visiting Havasupai (including local dogs).
Respect quiet Hours from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
You need to bring all camping gear with you, the tribe does not offer or sell tents, sleeping bags or other camping supplies.
This is a flash flood area, and such floods can happen.
It is more expected to have floods in the canyons during the summer Monsoon season (usually July through September) but it can also happened during the winter months.
During March 2023, 3 weeks before our April 2023 visit, there was a river flood that overrun the campsite and people had to evacuate to higher ground.
If you hear or see flood waters approaching, get to high ground immediately and wait until it clears.
This hike was in my backet list for many years, but I knew it is challenging to get permit to hike here, especially after being closed for almost 2 years during Covid.
Our good friend ask me if he will manage to get permit, we can join them ?
My short answer was: “say when and we will be there”.
There is no doubt that this is one of the most beautiful places I visit in north America and doing this with my wife (her first real backpacking trip) and good friends just added to the experience.
Amazing waterfalls in a perfect remote location, outdoors, hiking, wife, and friends, you just can’t ask for more.
Our 3 Days Hike:
All Campground Reservations are 4 Days / 3 Nights, but we had to shorten our stay for only 2 nights (3 days) and our friends will stay for another day.
10.5 miles, total descent of 2,200 ft, 7 hours.
5.8 miles, total 1,200 ft down and up, 6.5 hours.
10.5 miles, total ascent of 2,200 ft, 5 hours.
The hiking, Distances from Supai Village:
Navajo Falls: 0.8 mile.
Havasu Falls and Campground: 2 miles (estimated 45-minute hike)
Mooney Falls: 3 miles
Beaver Falls: 6 miles
Colorado River: 11 miles
Day before the hike:
We arrived at Peach Springs area around 6pm in the afternoon and the Grand Canyon Caverns reservation office was already close.
We organized our backpacks with all what is needed for 3-4 days hiking.
Our First Day:
We started our day at 8am in Grand Canyon Caverns Hotel, getting our permits.
We drove for about 1 hour and look for parking spot at the trailhead.
After making sure all is in the backpack we started our hike, it was about 10:30am.
We had clear sky, and it was hot but not too much.
From the trailhead at Hilltop the trail start descending into the river below you.
For the first mile and a half it is descending 1200 ft into Havasu River wash.
The first section of the trail down is series of switchbacks but after less than a mile it is continuing in a straight line all the way to the wash.
From this point the trail follow the wash and it is relatively flat with constant slope down.
Once the trail start to get into the red stone layer it start to be more like a canyon.
The trail follow the canyon floor for several miles where in some sections the tall red canyon wall are relatively narrow and in other it is opening.
After 6 miles from the trailhead, you will see large clear sign indicating you are arriving Havasupai reservation.
Here take the left side of the canyon and soon after you will reach the confluence with the river coming from the right.
Here you will get into tree section near the river and the trail head to the left.
After short hike you will reach a fence, keep hiking near the fence and you will see a large new bridge crossing the river to the other side.
After the bridge the wide dirt road trail leads to Supai Village.
After short hike you will come to the point where the trail enter the village. Here you need to be you face masks and you are asked not to take pictures in the village.
After 7.5 miles from your hike starting point you will reach Supai Village center.
Here you can find the general store, caffe and the post office as well as the helicopter landing area.
We stopped for a refreshment stop at the caffe.
After short break we keep on hiking.
The wide trail exit the village, after about 1 mile you will see the first waterfalls on your left, Fifty-Foot Falls.
There is a trail climbing down to the upper section of the waterfall.
There is also a narrow path in the bushes that can lead you to the base of the waterfalls.
From here the trail level up where the river get into a short canyon section, in this section there is another waterfall, Navajo Falls.
After short walk the trail turn left and descending back to the river level.
Here you will need to cross the river to the other side on a semi-improvise bridge (the main bridge does not exist). Although the bridge is not level it looks like it is stable.
Short walk after the bridge you can find places that are selling drinks and food.
Soon after you will start to walk down on the left side of the canyon, and you will witness for the first time the amazing view of the 150-ft tall Havasu waterfall.
And, what an amazing view !
The blue-turquoise-green water plunge the high waterfall into the pool where it surrounded by the brown-red rocks cliffs.
The water are getting their turquoise color from the clay minerals.
You can walk down to the waterfall base and the trees below you or you can keep walking to the campground that is right ahead of you.
In the campground section I wrote a lot of notes and information about the campground.
The large buildings on your right are the restrooms.
Once you are getting into the campground forest look for a place to camp.
Short walk and you will see a sign pointing to the left into the direction of Fern Springs where you can fill up fresh water.
Find you campsite, preferable with a table and get organized.
This is the time to relax, stretch your lag, rest from the 10 miles hike and explore the nearby river.
Later before sunset you can walk back and enjoy Havasu falls again.
After preparing our dinner, it went dark and we went to sleep relatively early, tired from the early start and long hike.
Overall, we hiked 10.5 miles the first day, total descent of 2,200 ft, and it took us with all stops 7 hours of easy walking.
Second hiking day:
This day was dedicated to exploring the lower waterfalls Mooney and Beaver down the canyon.
After breakfast we started with our hike down the river, we pass the 1-mile campground aria. As you progress there are less trees and less in this area.
Right after the campground you will reach the top of Mooney Falls.
The trail is heading to the left side of the waterfall, and you will see the warning signs.
To get to the base of Mooney Fall you need to walk and pass steep steps sections, short tunnels, and tall wooden ladder, getting hold on metal chains to prevent you from falling.
The lower section of the steep rock and ladder gets sprayed with mist from Mooney Falls.
Unless you are afraid of heights this is a cool and fun section of the trail.
Be patient here, this is one way section, and you need to let people going in the opposite direction their opportunity and do not stress people who are less experienced or challenged with fear of heights.
Watch your step and progress slowly down, it can be unpleasant if you will fall down.
Usually in the morning people are going down this path and climbing up at the afternoon.
When we hiked here, we found many rubber gloves that help with holding the wet rock or the chains. We took them on the way back and left them on the base of the ladder, the same when we came up at the afternoon.
Mooney Falls drops about 200 ft into a large blue pool. Because it is nested in the surrounding cliffs this waterfall is less photogenic compared to Havasu Falls.
We manage to get down and from there we start to hike alongside the river.
After short walk we reach our first river crossing.
You can change here to water shoes (or sandals) or just hike with your shoes.
The trail is crossing to the other bank and follow the river downstream.
After another short hike you need to cross the river again. The trail going to the left, you are walking here in a high vegetation area that can block the trail and at some point, you will need to cross a creek with narrow but short wooden bridge.
After about 1.5 miles from Mooney Waterfall the trail crosses the river for the last time.
Soon after the last river crossing you will walk under a palm tree and here you will see that the trail continue over the water with a flat wooden ladder and from here you need to climb on aluminum ladder that is hooked into the rocks.
Here we saw from above 4 large Big Horne Sheep eating grass on the river front.
After the ladders the trail keep climbing over the rocks to the plateau above the river level. The landscape here is different from the river canyon below, this is more like the local desert with growing cactus.
Few simpler to pass obstacles and you will see for the first time the Beaver Falls from above. I must admit that from above, partly hidden by the trees, they are not impressive so much.
Walk to the right and climb down the cliff using the last broken wooden ladder for this hike.
Walk to the right and find your way down to the base of Beaver Falls.
From the river level Beaver Falls are much more impressive.
Beaver Falls is a series of large waterfalls that the water is being dammed by sediment rocks that create the large and deep pools.
This is the perfect place to relax and swim and enjoy the waterfall view.
There is not so much shade here and there are many other people so try to find your spot.
Stay here as much as you want but do remember that you need to hike back up to the campground before it is getting dark.
From Beaver Falls there is a 5 miles long trail leading to the Colorado River confluence, but we did not try it, so I do not have any information about this trail.
After our stay here we start our hike back.
On our way we saw again the 4 Big Horn sheep, this time up close near the trail. It looks like that they are used to people and do not run away.
We kept hiking and after crossing the river few times we arrived at the base of Mooney Falls.
We climbed up the ladder and the cliff section, walking up is much simpler and faster than going down.
From the top of the waterfall, we walked back a mile to our campsite.
Although shorter in length we felt more tired today compared to the first day, maybe this was because we were already tired.
This day hike was almost 6 miles, total 1,200 ft down and up, and it took us 6.5 hours including almost 1 hour at Beaver Falls.
We rest for the evening, made our dinner, and prepare our stuff for the following morning.
Third hiking day:
The third, and last, day morning we woke up 5:40, just before sunrise.
We had a long day a head of us, we need to walk back up to the trailhead, drive south to Phoenix AZ and make sure my wife catch the afternoon flight back home.
We get organize quickly and quietly in our campsite.
Putting back all our stuff (tent, pads and sleeping bags) back into our backpacks.
Say goodbye to our friends, we started to hike back exactly at 6am.
Passing on our way up the Navajo Falls, seeing their beauty for the last time.
From here we were walking fast, passing through the village and up the river. Turning right into the dry canyon on our way up.
We arrive at the base of the steep climb up after 3:40 hours. After a short rest we start climbing, it was almost 10am and it was already hot. Doing this climb during summer when it is 110f it is a lot more challenging.
We walked slow and with few stops, caring our heavy backpacks where most of the other groups where hiking with light day backpack.
After one hour we arrived at the top of the trail parking lot, this was exactly 5 hours from the camp.
We put our stuff in the car and start heading out.
From here we drove for about 1.5 hours to Seligman. Here we eat our breakfast + lunch at Westside Lilo's Café, this was exactly what we needed.
Short stop for refuel and additional 3 hours’ drive to Phoenix airport.
I drop my wife on time at the airport and headed back north to continue my road-trip at Sedona.