Planning a Havasu Falls Trip
Havasu Falls gained increasing popularity due to social media and sparked the interest of many people. Much like me, others are now adding this incredible waterfall to their bucket list. However, most people just know the falls are at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. They do not know the full details of planning the trip. When I first began planning my visit to Havasu Falls, I did not realize how much effort and patience this trip needed. Luckily, I’ve created a basic outline to help you get started to plan your trip. Planning a Havasu Falls trip can be done with the proper planning!
UPDATE: Havasupai has extended its Temporary Tourism Suspension, it is not known when tourism will resume.
Ready to visit the Havasu Falls? Here is my outline for planning a trip!
1. Determine if this hike is fit for you
Before you begin planning a Havasu Falls trip, it is important to see if this hike is fit for you. The hike to Havasu Falls on the Havasupai trail is no easy task. It is 10 miles in each direction with the first mile heading downhill with a lot of switchbacks. While the downhill hike is not as strenuous, it makes the hike back out for the last mile quite difficult. Depending on the time of year you go, the heat can make the hike harder as the trail does not carry much shade. While it is a bit difficult to quantify the level of this hike, many go with moderate.
Make sure to train in advance. While I found it a bit difficult as a beginner hiker, the views and experience made it worth it. It is important to prepare and be physically able to make the trek to Havasu Falls. Make sure you are capable of hiking at least 20 miles during your trip. If you are not fit enough for this trip you will be too tired to enjoy the falls on arrival.
2. Plan in advance
Once you determine that this is a hike you can do and feel comfortable training for, the real planning for your Havasu Falls trip begins. One cannot make a last-minute decision while already in Arizona to make a visit to the Havasu Falls. You will need a permit and a reservation that you obtain in the beginning of the year. On top of that, it is a 10 mile hike in, requires 3 night minimum stay and a 10 mile hike out. There is a helicopter that can take you 8 miles in which also requires planning and is not as reliable. In addition, the Havasupai Indian Reservation is about 3 hours from Flagstaff, AZ. Make sure to plan in advance!
If you plan to hike on your own, you need to make sure you get the permit and reservation early enough. You will also need the proper equipment to camp for a minimum of 3 nights. I discuss in my next step about how to obtain a permit and reservation.
If you are not able to get a permit and reservation, there are hiking tours that you can pay to take you to the Havasu Falls. However, these groups also get booked very early. If you decide to go through a guide, try to book as soon as possible.
3. Obtaining a Havasupai Permit
The Havasupai Tribal Council releases its permits on February 1st every year. In addition to obtaining a permit, you will also have to make campground reservations. Since they no longer take phone reservations, you can obtain a permit and make reservations here.
Be patient when it comes to getting a permit. There is a chance you might not get one for that year. Permits sell out early and quickly, however do not give up hope! If you’re not able to go on the first try, keep trying for the next year if it is a dream to hike to Havasu Falls.
Luckily enough when I went, I went through a tour guide which took care of all the logistics for us. If you’re wanting to go through a tour guide, that can help ease some of the planning process off of you.
4. Booking through a tour guide
Like the permits, tour guides also fill up quickly, but if you are not able to obtain a permit and are willing to spend a little more money, tour guides are also an option. As I was not an experienced hiker or camper, using a tour guide made the process and actual hike easier. In addition to obtaining our permits and reservations for us, they brought all the camping gear in via horses. This allowed us to carry minimal items while hiking to the campsite.
We used this guided hiking tour company here. I really enjoyed this tour company and would definitely recommend them!
5. Prepping for your trip
So you’ve decided Havasu Falls is a trip for you, planned when you want to go, and obtained a permit and reservation or tour guide. You’re now ready to start prepping at home for your hike! In addition to making sure you’re physically fit for the trip, make sure to get all the essentials needed for hiking and camping.
I’m working on a packing guide for Arizona and will update it here soon for all the essentials you will need for your trip!