Hiking to Havasu Falls

Hiking to Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls
This past July, I took a trip with some good friends to the Havasupai Indian Reservation in Arizona. Havasupai is known for its beautiful turquoise water and towering waterfalls. Alex, one of my best friends, is actually the one who prompted this trip. She had a friend who had gone there the previous summer, so we knew we’d have to call as soon as lines opened up in February. After countless hours of being put on hold to get a reservation, we finally opted to use the new website instead. The only date that worked for our group was the last weekend in July, so we booked it and officially began our planning!

I’ve done plenty of hiking in Colorado, but I had never been to the Grand Canyon, let alone hiked in the desert! I had also never gone on a hiking trip where I was hiking to my destination with everything on my back! I can be a bit of an obsessive planner – I definitely did that for this trip. Not only was this trip absolutely beautiful and so much fun, it was also a learning experience! I definitely overpacked my bag (like 15 pounds too much), but I’ll talk about what I took later in this post.

Tad and I flew into Vegas and Alex and Keaton were there waiting for us. Side note, they went on a two week road trip and this was just one of their stops (wish we could’ve gone with them – looked amazing)! From there, we drove straight to the Hualapai Hilltop trailhead, which was a four hour drive from Vegas.

The descent begins!

Once we made it to the trailhead, which wasn’t without getting lost and driving down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere for ten miles (we thought for a second we were on a horror movie), we slept in the car for a couple of hours before starting our hike at 5:30 Friday morning.

Alex and I about 2 miles into the morning hike.
In my pack I had a sleeping pad, my Mountain House dried meals, clothes, toiletries, my Tevas, a few other essentials, and I carried a tent on the bottom of my pack. If I do a hike similar to this again in the future, I would pack less clothes and fewer meals. Although you need food to stay energized, I definitely overdid it. We looked forward to eating every day, but sometimes you get so busy that you forget about it or simply don’t have time!

Tad also overpacked (you can see that from the above photos, I'm sure). He, too, brought to many clothes and meals. He was a trooper for carrying such a large, heavy backpack, but I do think there was a little regret he would never admit! 

Friday seemed like the longest day ever! We conquered the 10 mile hike to the campgrounds in about five hours. Before getting to the campgrounds, we stopped in Supai, picked up some food to go and checked in at the ranger station. From there we still had another three or so miles to go. Although we were pretty exhausted, nothing compared to the final descent when we got our first glimpse of one of the waterfalls. Mother Nature is truly breathtaking!

After the long hike in, we set up camp and relaxed for a bit before excitedly walking back over to Havasu Falls. We were pretty tired and seriously couldn't wait to get in the cold, refreshing water! There was also a small creek right next to our campsite that is actually fed from Havasu Falls. We bathed there for the entire stay.

There are a total of five waterfalls throughout Havasupai Indian Reservation: Navajo Falls, Fifty Foot Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls. Because we were only there for a limited time, we saw four of the five waterfalls and swam in three. The three we went to were Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls.

Havasu Falls

Mooney Falls

Beaver Falls from above.

It’s so hard to say which was my favorite, but if I had to choose, I would go with Beaver Falls. They were all surreally magical in their own way, but Beaver Falls offers multiple layers with ropes to scale walls, ladders to climb and multiple cliffs to jump off. Another cool thing about Beaver Falls is the hike to get there. You have to maneuver your way down a wall to get to Mooney Falls first, and then from there we hiked three-ish miles. The hike to Beaver was a dynamic hike with river crossings, winding paths through fields of greenery and occasional mild rock climbing.

When you hike to Mooney and Beaver Falls, I would suggest bringing a smaller, lightweight backpack with a few snacks, your camera and as much water as you can because going to Beaver Falls is definitely an all-day venture! Alex took her smaller pack and I took my CamelBak – we were set.

The flight back to Iowa was scheduled for 3:00pm on Sunday, so we knew we’d have to get up super early to hike the 10 miles back to the trailhead and then drive four hours back to Vegas. Because we didn’t want to miss our flight or cut it close, we decided to sleep for three hours Saturday night. We woke up around midnight to pack everything up and head back for a night hike. I’m still not sure if this was the best idea or not … Obviously we all lived, but it’s not the easiest thing to maneuver the trails in the dark!

We had our head lamps and we strapped iPhones with flashlights on to our chests. We only made a wrong turn once and stopped for breaks probably six different times. We made it back to the hilltop right at sunrise. The great thing about the night hike was that we didn’t have to deal with the sun and the heat! But I’m not going to lie, I was a little concerned about snakes. Fortunately, we didn’t run into any wildlife – just had one pesky bat scoping out the bugs swarming our head lamps.  

The hike from the trailhead to the campgrounds is actually relatively easy, and if you aren’t into carrying your things on your back, you can pay extra to have donkeys carry your bags! Overall, this trip was an amazing experience with really great friends. I would recommend this trip to anyone who loves hiking, camping, exploring, jumping off waterfalls, and isn’t afraid to get a little dirty!

Here's a few more pics from the trip.

Happy hiking!
Shelbie Renee


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