I recently had the honor and privilege of traveling to Supai, Arizona in the Grand Canyon to the home of the Havasupai Native American people. Supai boasts the shockingly beautiful blue-green waters of Havasu creek and multiple gorgeous waterfalls. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to obtain a permit for myself and three others. My boyfriend, myself, and two of our friends decided to take on the 10 mile hike from Hualapai Hilltop to the village of Havasupai and then down to the campground with all of our supplies for the next few days on our backs. The night before the hike we stayed at Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs, AZ on historic Route 66. It’s the closest hotel to the trail-head and they are accustomed to hosting Havasupai hikers. The hotel was very nice, staff were friendly and helpful, and it had a very authentic Native American/Southwestern feel. The restaurant in the hotel starts serving breakfast at 0400 so you can get an early start on your hike. We met our friends for breakfast at four and then made the 68 mile drive to the Hualapai Hilltop parking lot.
We started our hike around 0700 and it was a brisk 27 degrees Fahrenheit. With that being said, we were sweating within a few minutes. The first mile of the hike is steep switchbacks that descend around 2000 feet into the Grand Canyon. The next 7 miles is relatively flat with gradual elevation change through the rocky, sandy riverbed of the canyon. When you arrive in the Village of Havasupai, there is another 2 miles to hike until you reach the campground. The village has a couple of places to grab hot food on your way in such as burgers, tacos and fry bread. Also, there is a small grocery store if you want to grab a snack and take a break from the hike in. After the first 8 miles, we were ready for a bathroom break and a place to sit down for a moment. Then we started the last of the hike, the 2 miles to the campground. The final 2 miles descend further into the canyon and the trail starts to give way to beautiful streams, cacti and trees. On the way to the campground we passed Fifty Foot Falls and Navajo Falls. Several fry bread stands were set up on the way from the village to the campground, which was pretty cool to see in such a remote place. At the start of the campground is Havasu Falls (pictured above). It is truly hard to take your eyes off the water when you’re in Supai it’s that beautiful. I just kept staring, hoping to forever keep the beauty in my memory.
It took us a little while to find a campsite with a picnic table and enough flat area to set up our two tents. There isn’t marked sights, but you are able to camp on either side of the creek stretching one mile to the top of Mooney Falls. We spent three nights camping alongside the surreal banks of Havasu creek, nestled between the towering walls of the canyon.
The day after we hiked in, we decided to hike down to Mooney and Beaver Falls which is about 6 miles round trip. It was an absolutely gorgeous day for exploring! I had read others accounts of the hike down to Mooney Falls and even saw pictures, but nothing could have prepared me for the ultra sketchy and treacherous descent through two small caves and then down poorly maintained ladders, notched out logs, and rusty chains somewhat attached to the slick, muddy, red rock walls of the canyon all while being soaked in spray from the waterfall. Oh and it was a 200 foot climb down at a nearly vertical drop. Did I mention I’m not a fan of heights?? But very slowly and very carefully we all made it to the bottom and I’ve never been more proud of myself haha.
After I briefly celebrated being alive, we started toward Beaver Falls. Parts of this hike were equally as interesting, although not as treacherous. There were plywood bridges over ravines, more ladders/notched logs and three creek crossings to finally arrive at the breathtaking Beaver Falls.
And as if all this water isn’t beautiful enough, right before you arrive at Beaver Falls there’s a massive palm tree completing this remote desert oasis.
After two days packed with hiking, we decided to relax at our campsite the third day and give our feet a break before the 10 mile hike out the following day. It was also cold and rainy that day so there wasn’t a whole lot to do. We did spend some time at Havasu Falls eating lunch and just hanging out. We found a picnic table in the most beautiful location!
We started to pack up that night and get ready to wake up bright and early to start the 10 mile hike out of the canyon. It was a very cold, rainy night in the tent. It was difficult to sleep with the heavy rainfall which caused Havasu Creek to rage and it was extremely loud. I just kept anxiously awaiting a flash flood, which can happen at any moment in a place like that. It was honestly a relief when 0500 came and we could get up to start packing and breaking down the tent. We wanted to get going by 6 because it’s best to do the majority of the hike before the full sunlight hits the canyon due to it getting really hot, even in April. We walked to the spring to refill our camelbaks and then started the trek up to the village.
The hike out was long, hot, and tiring to say the least. After hiking 9 miles, the last mile was the steep switchbacks up out of the canyon. I’m not exactly in the greatest shape so I thought I might die 🤣. I love being outside hiking, camping, swimming etc. However, when I’m not running around my floor at work doing a million things I pretty much just enjoy sitting on the couch with my wiener dogs and drinking wine lol. I highly recommend being in better physical shape than I am to tackle this hike, but the moral of the story is that I lived. If I did it, then anyone can! Also, there’s no sense of accomplishment like carrying everything you need for four days on your back with your own two legs. We all made it to the top, for a total of 40 miles hiked in 4 days! We were all ready for nothing more than a giant burger and beer after eating nothing but MREs for four days (although Mountain House has the best and we were surprised at just how delicious freeze dried food could be).
On our drive back, we stopped in Seligman, AZ on historic Route 66 at the famous Roadkill Cafe. I wanted nothing more than a root beer float for some reason so I ordered that and a massive burger.
This was one of the most memorable, beautiful, emotional trips I’ve ever taken. I say emotional, because although it’s the most gorgeous location I’ve ever been, the Village of Havasupai is so very poor. The houses are old and run down with tons of junk laying in the yards. I wasn’t surprised because I’ve spent time in Kayenta on the reservation in Navajo Nation, but it still hit me just as hard. I heard that the campground in Supai is on sacred burial ground and that when the land was given back to the Native Americans they were made to keep the campground open to the public. So if this is true, it seems like a catch 22 for them because they need the money but also we’re camping on the remains of their ancestors. The Native American culture is so very important to me and I was really upset by the whole thing. Having known what I know now, I can’t say that I would have made this trip. However, it was the experience of a lifetime and I’m forever grateful to the Havasupai tribe for being so very kind and letting us visit their beautiful home. I have memories that I will carry with me for a lifetime.
2 thoughts on “Havasupai”
Wow…..what a hike! I love the pictures and one day I hope to visit Havasu creek because the water is so amazing. The colour is just stunning. Great pics….thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much! You definitely have to go. So amazingly gorgeous!