Havasu Falls in Grand Canyon
A series of beautiful and photogenic waterfalls can be found on Havasu Creek, a tributary to the Grand Canyon. The water flows out of limestone, which gives it a pleasing blue-green hue. The waterfalls have created large plunge pools that are clear, deep and inviting. People come from around the world to view the waterfalls and Grand Canyon scenery, and swim in the pools.
The area is part of the Havasupai Indian Reservation and is managed by the tribe. The number of visitors is restricted and reservations are required. See the tribe's website for contact numbers and info about making reservations. You must apply for reservations months in advance for trips during the tourism season.
May/June and September/October are the best months to visit if you want to play in the water. Hiking conditions are excellent in the earlier spring and later fall, but the water will be cold and less inviting. The water is delightful during mid-summer but hiking conditions are hot.
You must hike/backpack or ride horses to reach the waterfalls. From the trailhead it is 8 miles to the Havasupai village of Supai, where you check in at the tourism office. You can also buy basic supplies, food and drinks in the village.
Havasu Falls is located 2 miles below the village. Mooney Falls is a mile further down the trail. A campground can be found along the stream between those two waterfalls. Most tourists camp but some elect to stay in the lodge in the village. The village also offers a small cafe.
All supplies brought into the village and campground come by backpacking, mule train or helicopter. The village receives mail by mule train. Because of its remote location, supplies in the village are more expensive than similar items at your local grocery store.
The 10 mile trail from the trailhead to the campground is steep, particularly on the upper end. It is also rocky and in some spots it is fully exposed to the summer sun. Backpacking here is strenuous. Many visitors elect to have their packs carried in by mule trail. Some pack in but then have the mules carry their gear out.
The trailhead is called Hualapai Hilltop. It is located at the end of Indian Road 18, 60 miles north of the Junction of Road 18 and Hyw 66. The junction is between Seligman and Peach Springs, in northwest Arizona. This is a remote area about 235 miles east of Las Vegas, or about 165 miles northwest of Flagstaff, AZ. Some computer/internet map programs show alternate routes to the Hilltop but those are rugged backroads not recommended for automobile travel. Indian Road 18 provides the best access.
Drinking water is available from a spring in the campground. Water obtained from the stream or other sources should be purified. Water is not available along much of the trail into the canyon so carry at least 2 liters per person when hiking in or out.
Springs in the area are warm, approximately 70 degrees year round. That includes Fern Spring, which provides drinking water in the campground. The water has a slight mineral taste.
This is not a typical backpack experience and it is definitely not a wilderness setting. You pack for 8 miles and come to a village where you can buy drinks and supplies. You pack 2 more miles and come to the crowded campground. This is a popular spot for youth groups and there are usually kids everywhere.
Porta-potties are provided at the campground but there is usually a waiting line. They fly porta-potties in and out via helicopter occasionally but they are often full and smelly.
The scenery is spectacular. The waterfalls and plunge pools make the trip worthwhile.
For more information about the Grand Canyon:
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