Updated: Apr 23
PLEASE NOTE, Havasu Falls is closed until June 1, 2022.
The rules to hike this trail change every year and you can always check the tribal website for the latest info. It’s some of the most beautiful blue water I’ve ever seen and definitely one of the most difficult, but trust me – it’s worth it. Here are my 21 tips for hiking Havasu Falls.
If you read my last post all about hiking Havasu Falls, then you know it is definitely both amazing and challenging to do (both logistically and physically). I couldn’t write about this hike without including some helpful tips that I wish I knew before going!
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1. Getting a permit is hard! Be ready on February 1st.
Permits begin being sold on February 1st, at 8 am Arizona time on their website. You have to have an account before you can login to get a permit. Make sure you create your online account, then log on before 8 am so you are ready. We went online the day that they were open to new reservations (8 am, February 1st for the year) and it was already sold out just a few hours later.
The only way to visit now is with a 3 night, 4 day permit so on their website, there’s no chance of picking the wrong one. There’s a lot that goes into getting Havasupai Reservations so research as early as you can!
2. Rules can change.
They switch every year as this hike gets more popular so check the tribal website for the latest information on getting permits.
As I mentioned, the permits are really hard to get. The rules to get a permit actually changed 4 times in the months leading up to our trip and it about drove me crazy! There is now a website which makes things much more simple. Make sure you look there for the latest info!
3. It is a difficult 10 mile hike each way.
The hike is really tough and you should definitely plan on taking your time. You’re in the sun pretty much the whole way and depending on your fitness level, it can take anywhere between 3 to 6 hours. Plan ample time to hike and try to be as in shape as possible before hiking to make it more enjoyable!
4. Wear your hiking gear.
Invest in a CamelBak (WalMart has a good off-brand one), get nice hiking boots, invest in a backpacking backpack, and bring a sleeping bag that is lightweight and small. These water shoes for hiking Havasu Falls can help make the hike a little easier too. These things are worth extra when you are trying to enjoy the hike!
5. Bring plenty of water.
You are in a desert, it’s a long hike, and you will definitely need it. It’s recommended that each person carries at least one gallon of water if not more on this hike. Water is available once you are at the campsite so you do not need to bring water for all 4 days.
6. Get there as early as possible to start the hike.
Like I said, the hike can take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours so you will definitely want to start early so you’ve got plenty of time to hang out at the waterfalls. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive from the nearest city (Flagstaff) so include this in your morning start time. We left at 6 am and started hiking around 9. If you go in spring or fall it starts to get dark early plus it gets cold. You’ll want to have time to swim and hang out around the falls.
7. Bring a first aid kit and blister pads.
We used our first aid kits multiple times and couldn’t be happier about each bringing a kit. The blister pads were also a must because after walking so much, you’re bound to have issues. Long hikes mean more chances for injuries and blisters!
8. Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses are a must.
I have seen this on people’s lists before and I am usually like ehhh maybe… NO! It is a must on this hike. You’re in the sun pretty much the whole time. Protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
9. Layer, layer, layer!
This is especially important in spring and fall. The temperatures can be in the 40s in the morning and in the 70s during the day.
10. The hike from the village to the campground seems the longest and hardest.
This part of the hike is so hard because you think you’re almost there but really you have two miles left. The other reason it’s so hard is that there’s sand the entire way. This makes it so hard to walk in all the sand. Walk on the side of the trails where there is more solid ground.
11. Bring food, but you can also buy it in the village.
There are two options for food while in the village. The first is an outside stop near the first part of the village you see as you hike in. The second is in the main part of the village next to the store. There are a lot of options at this cafe. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most options are not healthy but it was delicious!
12. You can hire a mule with friends for just $130 and it holds 4 bags.
In order to hire a mule, you have to order it in the village the day before you leave. They take cash for the mule. They will give you four tags to put on your bags. The next morning, you have to bring your bags to the front of the campsite to where all the mules are by 8 am. Leave all your bags together and that the tags are secured tightly on your bags so you can retrieve them when you are at the top. The mule had to be paid for in cash.
13. The helicopter there or back is $85 each way.
Ordering a helicopter is much different than a mule. Helicopters are done on a first come, first service basis with locals taking priority. They almost always have time to take everyone out on the same day as long as your name is on the list by 11 am. You should bring cash for this in case of any problems but it is possible to use a card for this.
14. Helicopters only run Thursday to Monday and it takes locals first.
If you plan on trying to take the helicopter this is important! Since it only runs 4 days a week, you have to make sure you are leaving on weekend dates if you want to take the helicopter. There is only one company that runs the helicopter service called AirWest. There is no real need to contact them as the schedule is set and they do not take reservations.
15.The closest city is Flagstaff.
Flagstaff is 3 hours away. Book really far in advance if you would like to stay closer because there are very few places close to the Havasupai Reservation. If you don’t book enough in advance, go to bed very early and start your drive as soon as possible so you don’t miss time at the falls.
16. Fill up on gas before you leave for Havasu.
From Route 66 to the campground is a 60 mile drive (all on the same road) but there is no where to stop. Once you get to the trail head, there are just port-a-potties. There are a few spots in the town of Peach Springs which is about 65 miles away but otherwise, there are few options for gas. Fill up on gas when you have the chance!
17. Bathrooms are scarce and when there are bathrooms.
Remember that you are on a reservation and are not supposed to leave anything. It is important to be prepared for this. This goes for the campsite as well. There are composting toilets there with no running water.
18. Bring trash bags.
You have to carry everything in and out with you. I briefly mentioned this, but you have to bring everything with you, in and out. This includes all trash and all of your camping gear. Trash bags will come in handy because the dirt will stain things and you won’t want to mix dirty and clean things. You also must carry everything in and out with you.
19. Bring water shoes so you can climb around in the water at the waterfalls.
The rocks in the water are jagged and hard to walk on. Water shoes will make it easier to talk around the falls and swim as you want. I have had the same pair of Chaco sandals since I was in high school. I couldn’t recommend them enough. They’ve gone all over the world with me and lasted me so long. Completely worth it!
20. All of the waterfalls have incredible views!
The easiest waterfall to see is Havasu Falls. Beaver Falls is 4 miles further from the campsite. Little Navajo and Fifty Footer are easy to stop at on the way back to the village. Mooney Falls is a challenge to get to the bottom of. If you want to know more, make sure you check out this guide!
21. Bring a camera and take lots of photos!
This one speaks for itself! So beautiful and amazing to see such a special place.
Now that you’ve got some tips for hiking Havasu Falls , you’re hopefully on your way to planning your hike. Let me know if you’ve got questions in the comments below. Happy to help!
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