Visiting the Havasu falls grand canyon was one of the strongest points of our trip along the West Coast of the United States. For some of us, it was a dream, almost an obsession, to get to this hidden place located in Arizona, very close to the Grand Canyon of Colorado.
The drawbacks were many: great walk for children, difficult to get a reservation, get tents, very high temperatures at the end of June, high price … But the illusion and the desire to visit this wonderful place managed to overcome all the Negative points and we managed to spend 2 nights in paradise! Keep reading: KAYAKING IN CAPE TOWN BETWEEN DOLPHINS AND WHALES
Location of Havasu falls grand canyon
The Havasu Falls are located in the middle of the Indian Reservation of the Havasupai, in the state of Arizona. In the reserve, there is only an urban center called Supai. Supai is a small town of about 200 inhabitants according to the last census. It has all the basic services so that the indigenous population can live: medical center, school, supermarket, bar … even a church.
In the center of the town there is some coverage both telephone and internet (there is free WIFI in this area), but in the other sites, as in the campground or in the waterfalls Havasu Falls there is no.
There are no roads to reach Supai, so the only options available are a route on foot or horse through stone and sand roads of 13km or use the helicopter. The last place accessible by car is Hualapai Hilltop, which we will discuss in the next point.
Hualapai Hilltop is a parking lot where the route to Supai begins with it is famous Havasu falls grand canyon. The road ends in this parking lot where there are no services. There is only one booth in the tourist office of the Havasupai where you give your name to check that the reservation is in order (you can not enter Havasupai lands without having permission). In this cabin, you can also leave luggage to be transported to Supai or the Havasupai Campground on mules or helicopters. We will see the prices later. There is also a kind of heliport and stables for horses.
Everything else is spaces to be able to leave the vehicles. In the final area of the road there are car parks where only cars or small vans enter. To park the motorhome you have to get away a little and park it on the side of the road. We were lucky and found a place quite close, 5 minutes from the trailhead, because it is not easy to park a 10-meter RV.
Before arriving at the parking lot in Hualapai Hilltop there is a place in the ditch to park the motorhomes.
To get to Hualapai Hilltop you have to take the Indian Road 18 which leaves the historic Route 66 between the towns of Kingman and Seligman. They are about 100km that are covered in little more than 1h in which there are no services. From the Grand Canyon Village there are about 300km (3h 30m) and from Las Vegas something more: 350km (4h).
The reservation system was rudimentary. Reservations could only be made by telephone. Hotel reservations were made 1 year in advance (almost impossible to get), and the campground began on February 1 of each year. The first days were crazy and the phones were saturated. If you were lucky enough to make a reservation they sent you home a letter with the reservation information, how to get there, etc.
So with this scenario we planted on February 1, 2017 and we were all day long calling unsuccessfully, the lines were collapsed. In fact they had some major problem with the communication nodes, since on a couple of occasions they caught us but were not those of the Havasupai reservation center, but other individuals who were pissed off by the number of calls received. One of them was fed up and let out some American expletive that we did not understand at all … but because of the tone it was frightening!
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Luckily from day 2 they put the online booking system and after a couple of hours of chaos to know if it was a scam or not, we decided to book and that in those 2h had reserved half of the seats for our days planned. Once we made the reservation, we began to give official visibility to the new website of the Havasupai in which all the information of the reservation system, prices, etc. is indicated. This system is still valid through this website so it is good news for all those travelers who want to visit this incredible place.
How to get there: 3 means of transport
For all of them it is obligatory to have a permit from the Havasupai to be able to access and sleep at least one night.
Havasu falls how to get there. Tourist office in Supai where you get the bracelets to identify yourself within the territory of the Havasupai.
Arrival at the Supai tourist office. It is mandatory to put on an “all inclusive” bracelet and an identification in each tent.
How to get there: walking route
Trekking or hike is the most recommended option for many reasons: the landscapes it crosses are a blast, you only depend on yourself, it’s cheaper … First of all we were very respectful because we were with 4 quite small children (5, 6 , 7 and 8 years), but it was a success. Children have much more energy than us! you just have to motivate them and when going in a group and with similar landscapes they are motivated by themselves 🙂
Havasu Falls how to get there – View of the famous switchbacks near Hualapai Hilltop, start of the route to the Havasupai tribe.
View of the switchbacks calls from the Hualapai Hilltop Trailhead. There you have to go down … and go up 🙂
The route starts at the Hualapai Hilltop Trailhead and has these technical data:
– Distances : 13km to Supai and 16km to Havasupai Campground.
– Elevation : 760m negative in the first leg and 760m positive on lap
– Time used : 4-6h (we take about 5h on the 2 treks)
– Drinking water in the way : No
Havasu Falls how to get there – Hike to Havasupai: view of the huge walls in the canyon before reaching Havasu Creek.
Huge walls in the middle part of the side canyon that flows into the main canyon sculpted by the Havasu Creek.
The road is mainly made of stones and gravel, although there are areas (especially in the final part from Suapi al Campground) where it is pure sand and makes it more expensive to move forward. The main difference is in the first 2km (or the last one in the turn) until reaching the canyon that ends in the main canyon of Havasu Creek, with more or less 500m of difference. The road has no loss and the crossings are indicated.
You have to keep the climate very present. It is very hot in summer with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees, which is essential to avoid the central hours of the day. We did the 2 trekkings almost at night: the outward journey started at 5am and the return at 3am. All a success because we did not spend any heat and temperatures these days were around 43 degrees maximum.
You have more information and pictures in the days of the newspaper: Ruta Hualapai Hilltop-Havasupai and Route of exit of Havasupai.
Havasu Falls how to get there – Hike to Havasupai: view of Wigleeva arriving at Supai.
The characteristic Wigleeva rocks welcome the people of Supai
How to get there: horse route
Another option available is to make the route from Hualapai Hilltop on horseback. It is the same 13km route as in the trekking but with the horses and mules of the Havasupai Indians.
IMPORTANT NOTE! Until 2017 the service and information was available on the official website of the Havasupai tribe, but by 2018 they have been eliminated so we do not know if this option is still available or not.
Havasu Falls how to get there – Horses circling the famous switchbacks near Hualapai Hilltop, start of the route to the Havasupai tribe.
How to get there: helicopter
A priori may seem the best option, but it has several drawbacks. The first is that it is not a touristic service, it is a service for the natives and therefore they have total priority. The second is that it does not work every day and also does not have a fixed schedule because of the aforementioned that the Indians have full priority. Therefore, it may be the case of waiting several hours and finally not being able to fly.
As with horses, they had previously offered it on the official website and have now removed it. The last official information (2018) given by the company in charge of providing the service is the following:
In high season (March 15 – October 15), the helicopter flies on Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday. Out of season, only Friday and Sunday. The service is subject to cancellation without prior notice, for example, due to strong winds.
Usually, the helicopter is used to leave Havasupai. To do this you have to sign up in a list. The official time to register is from 10 am to 1 pm, However, people usually start to form a queue in front of the helipad before dawn. When we arrived in Supai around 10am there were a lot of people in the queue and the service had not started yet.
All this makes it not a viable option for us. In addition, and most importantly, you would miss the beautiful route through a great part of the journey through a beautiful canyon with immense walls!
Accommodation in Havasu falls grand canyon
There are only 2 options to be able to sleep in Havasupai lands:
Lodge: In the village of Supai there is a small Hotel with 24 rooms with private bathroom, air conditioning, that is, quite comfortable for a place so remote. One of the bad things is that it is almost impossible to get a reservation, you have to call a year in advance and still usually always busy. Another drawback is that being in the village, it is 3km away from the main Havasupai attraction: Las Havasu Falls.
Camping: The Havasupai Campground is located 3km from Supai, just after the Havasu Falls, and extends to the Mooney Falls. It consists of unbounded plots located on both sides of the Havasu Creek. In several plots there are tables with wooden benches. The only services available at the campsite are several compost toilets and a source of drinking water. In high season and with an indefinite schedule (such are the Havasupai), there is also a food stand at the entrance of the campground.
Everything else you have to carry yourself, either on your shoulders in a backpack or transported by mules or even the helicopter for about $115 each way. The truth is that most of those who were encamped had made use of transport by mules as they had many amenities, such as portable barbecues, food in abundance, comfortable tents … we went with the minimum since we were with children We had less capacity to transport, but take away the dance!
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Part of our luggage to spend 2 nights in Havasu Falls: food, river slippers, stores, bags …
The tents we bought at the Walmart and the truth is that they came out very cheap (less than € 40). They were for 4 people and very light, only to use in summer, so for us perfect! We bought inflatable plastic mats and we brought some light and compact summer sleeping bags from here. As you see without any kind of luxuries 🙂
Finally, the comment that prices have increased again in 2018 given the great demand for wanting to visit the Havasu Falls.
Food and water
Being such a remote place, there are not many options to stock up on food and drink. In Supai there are 2 places where you can buy food: a supermarket and a bar . Both are in the center of town. The supermarket is small, but more or less there is everything. Yes, the prices are expensive! We do not buy anything in it, but it can get you out of a hurry.
In the cafe-bar they serve fast food at a reasonable price: burgers, tacos, nuggets … One day we bought food to take away (we were short of food …) and it tasted great! Of course, from the campsite there are about 6km round trip so neither is a highly recommended option.
As for the water, in the entire route from Hualapai Hilltop to the Havasupai Campground, there is no source with drinking water so you have to transport the water necessary for the hike (they recommend about 3 liters per person, but we have enough left over to the gone as to the return). The good news is that in the Campground there is a source from which to obtain drinking water. It is called Fern Spring and it is located quite close to the entrance to the campsite and the water comes out very fresh! 🙂
Fountain Fern Spring located at the beginning of the campsite, near the Havasu Falls. Credits to Frank Kehren.
On your own or with a travel agency
Another of the doubts that you pose to get to visit the Havasu Falls is to go on your own or on an organized trip . The main advantage of going on an organized trip, such as Wildland Trekking, is that you do not have to worry about anything, just to pay … and that is the main drawback: the high price. The cheapest trip costs more than $1000 per person, that is, more than 4000 dollars per family. To us, on our own, we left for the family at about 500-600 dollars counting food, tent etc.
Another drawback of going on an organized trip is that you have everything scheduled without much room to go and do what you want. We had no doubt: on our own. But then there we were already kind of envious to see them (a group of Wildland Trekking was camped in the parcels next to ours) with all the comfort they had, they even had a portable shower hanging from a tree!
And the disadvantages of going on Havasu falls grand canyon! You have to prepare everything, buy or rent tents, buy groceries and transport them, sleeping bags, carry everything, set up camp … but all this was in the background with the freedom that gives you power see and do what you want at all times. You may also read: http://linkfeel.com/make-money-while-travelling/