With Havasupai reservations opening February 1, 2020 — adventure seekers, the curious, and annoying wannabe influencers are setting their alarms for 8AM Arizona time. It ain’t easy getting Havasupai Falls reservations. And it’s also not easy getting there! But trust, all the hard work getting Havasupai reservations and making the journey, is all worth the breathtaking paradise you will experience.
Without a doubt Havasupai / Havasu Falls is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s a water baby’s wonderland; it’s a hiker’s dream; and it’s quite possibly the most beautiful campsite on earth.
Nestled within the Grand Canyon, Havasupai Falls is chock-full of magical waterfalls, creeks and travertine pools. They are all the most gorgeous shade of blue, Tiffany blue to be exact. And just like them Tiffany diamonds, access to Havasupai Falls comes at a price.
Let’s be honest …
There is nothing easy about hiking Havasupai Falls, however it is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have in your life. From the moment you refresh your page on the Havasupai Reservations website, in the hopes of being one of the lucky few, the road to Havasupai Falls is a constant challenge.
But getting that coveted reservation isn’t the only hard part of this adventure. There are plenty of ways to maximize your enjoyment of this near once in a lifetime opportunity and luckily yours truly has gone through the journey (and sometimes pain) to bring you a few key tips before tackling the emerald waters that lay deep within the canyons.
Beyond The Basics: Havasupai Tips Most Travel Bloggers Never Tell You
- Red LED Headlamp
If you’re starting your hike after sundown (which I highly recommend), get yourself a headlamp with a red LED option. Do not just use a white light. Bugs and moths are attracted to the white light. My dumbass hiked about a mile with my white bulb, stopping every 5 minutes to clear my face of bugs. My husband, who was leading, finally turned around and said: “Baby, whats going on?” He laughed and switched my headlamp to the “red light” mode.
- Poop Trail
When in doubt, follow the poop. There were a couple times where we weren’t sure where to go (it can get confusing), but sure enough, if you follow the mule poop trail you’re going in the right direction.P.S. When possible, always follow a dirt trail as opposed to loose rocks.
- Water Weight
If backpacking, factor in how much your water is going to weigh. I didn’t take this into account and ended up with an almost 40-pound pack.
P.S. Once you hit the Village you can refill your water. From there it’s about 2 miles to the campground.
- Orange Buckets
Once you’re at the campground, use the Home Depot-style bucket for your food. The campground supplies them. If you don’t use this bucket, the raccoons WILL get your food. On night one without a bucket, Three raccoons snuck into our tent’s vestibule, unzipped one of our packs and ran off with a day’s worth of food. My husband ran after them, red butt-huggers and all. And don’t even think about putting your food inside your tent. A raccoon ate through one dude’s tent to get to the food. Imagine waking up to that!
- Trash High
Place that trash bag high up on rope! Plenty of trees to tie a rope. If you don’t have one of those orange buckets, you can also tie your food up there too.
- Picnic Benches
There are picnic benches at each camp site. No need to pack chairs unless unless you really love yours. We packed out ultralight chairs AND an ottoman. Considering I was hiking with a torn meniscus, that ottoman came in handy, and it was super nice to elevate my tootsies after adventuring all day.
- Drop The Food
If you’re looking to cut packing weight, only pack food for all but one night of your stay. You can always purchase chips, funnel cake and some other not-so-healthy treats onsite at the campground snack shack. You can also trek two miles to the village and order a burger or purchase some canned foods at the general store. We learned all this once the raccoons stole our stuff leaving us a full day short of food. Beware, the village can be quite pricey.
- Cash Money
Bring cash, and plenty of it. Don’t rely on Havasupai Indian Reservation’s credit card terminals. And if the raccoons eat your food supply, you’re going to need to buy more food.
- Measuring Cup New to dehydrated food? Pack a measuring cup, because the amount of water you put in your dehydrated packs can greatly affect the your enjoyment. Soup or crunchy noodles?
- Work-Out Gloves
Not like you’re going to be lifting bells here, but gloves come in handy when climbing to Mooney and / or setting up your camp site.
- Don’t Settle for the First Camp Site
Yes, you’re gonna be exhausted when you hit the campground, and you’re gonna want to grab the first camp site you see. Don’t settle! Keep walking! There are so many amazing camp sites. I must admit, we got the best camp site in all of Havasupai.
I mean, look …
- Crazy Critters
Aside from those annoying raccoons, you’re gonna come across a ton of nocturnal critters. I’m talking tiny mice and plenty of bats! I hate rodents. It took me a few sweet tea and vodkas to come to terms with my new house mates. In the end, they were actually kind of cute. Tiny little guys. Think field mice. Besides, we even managed to keep our cool after discovering a small tarantula who wanted to spend a night under one of our packs outside our tent rain cover …
- Fuck Footwear Style
Okay, style goes out the door at Havasupai. Trust, I would not be caught dead in dorky water sandals or Tevas. I like my heels with red soles, or waffle soles, but when it comes to Havasupai Falls, you need both hiking shoes WITH ankle support, AND hiking water sandals.
- Instant Ice / Hot Pack
These were so handy for my torn meniscus! Even if you’re hiking without a prior injury, instant ice / hot packs are great soothers for blisters and sore muscles. They’re also good to have in case you or someone in your squad gets injured.
- Blister Care
Get blister prevention and rub it all over your feet. Or wrap that shit up! Let’s just put it this way, I lost 3 toe nails after this hike, and acquired about 5 blisters.
- Can’t Hack The Hike? Havasupai Helicopter!
If you’re totally and completely defeated with injuries and blisters, you can helicopter out. Get there by 6AM to ensure an early spot. Line starts at 9:30Am, the first helicopter leaves when it arrives. It can be as early as 10AM or it can be at 11:30AM (as it was for us). Be prepared to wait a very long time. The village natives get line priority over any hikers. Make the most of it and converse with the natives. They are a wealth of info and have engaging stories to share. Talk to other hikers. Exchange stories of the hiking challenges, Supai gems, etc. Just don’t be an impatient dick!
P.S. Chopper costs $85 cash, $95 credit card and sits 6 people.
- Don’t Rent A Mule
The mules and horses used for transporting backpacks and supplies are malnourished and overworked. It’s quite sad. Suck it up, and haul your shit. Can’t hack it, hop on a chopper.
- Hiking Poles
You may look like a nerd, but you will be super stoked you opted for hiking poles. They made my Havasupai Falls hike less challenging. There are a few steep downhills where poles really help after your legs start to feel like jelly.
You want that Havasupai hike to go quick? You best come correct with a dope playlist. And of course, Grimy Goods has got the goods. Stream my hiking playlist here or below.
- Secret Sweat Lodge
Only the chosen few get invited to a sweat lodge session. That’s all I’m gonna say. 🙂
That’s it. Those are my pro tips that nobody every blogs about. Hope they come in handy!
Enjoy the paradise that is Havasupai / Havasu Falls. Please be mindful of your waste — pack it in and pack it out — if you see trash, pick it up.
Don’t be that annoying camper.
Respect Mother Earth.
Words: Sandra Olinger / Photos by Sandra and Bryan Olinger
For more information about Havasu / Havasupai Falls visit the Tribe’s official website, and / or book your online Havasupai camping reservations here.
I’m happy to hear about the home depot buckets, thought I was going to have to purchase a bear can. Do they run out of them?
Nice work! Good info. I just got back from a trip to Havasupai and loved every second. I made a film that you and your audience may enjoy. Please have a look and enjoy!