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Havasupai Indian Reservation: How to Visit Havasu Falls

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Few places in the world are as breathtakingly beautiful as Havasupai. Tucked away in the southwest corner of the Grand Canyon, this oasis is a true paradise. Its sparkling blue waterfalls and serene desert surroundings make it easy to see why Havasupai is such a popular destination. If you’re lucky enough to snag a permit, here are a few things to remember for your trip.

The Havasupai Reservation consists of a plateau country with deep, scenic canyons characteristic of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.

The Havasupai Reservation is only accessible by foot, helicopter, or horseback. The 10-mile hike from the trailhead to the village is a popular option but can be strenuous. Once you reach the town, you can enjoy swimming in the pool below Havasu Falls, hiking to Mooney Falls, and exploring the ancient ruins.

Before planning your trip to Havasupai Reservation

Travelers planning trips
Charnchai saeheng / Adobe Stock

If you’re looking for an adventure, Havasupai is worth a visit! Here are a few tips to help you plan your trip:

  • Pack light! You’ll carry all your belongings into the canyon, so only bring what you need.
  • Another thing to keep in mind is the weather. Havasupai is a desert, so it can get hot at peak hours of the day. Make sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen, and be prepared for some strenuous hiking.
  • The canyon has no cell phone service, so be sure to bring a map and compass and carry everything you need for the trip, including snacks.
  • There is a fee for entry into the reservation. Rates vary depending on the time of year, so check the Havasupai Tribe website for updated information.
  • Be respectful of the Havasupai people and the land. This is a sacred place to them, so please don’t litter or disturb the wildlife.

When you think of Arizona, the first image that usually comes to mind isn’t rushing waterfalls and crisp 70-degree streams. As odd as it may seem, Arizona boasts one of the most beautiful places in the world – Havasupai Falls.

The Origin of Havasupai Reservation

Havasupai – A Paradise in the Desert

The Reservation is named after the Havasupai tribe, which are the native dwellers of the area. It is impossible to understand the history of the Havasupai without understanding the tribe’s history.

The Havasupai people are Native Americans who have traditionally lived in the area now known as the Havasupai Reservation. They consider themselves a separate nation, and their name means “the people of the blue-green water.”

The origin of Havasupai is a bit of a mystery. The first recorded mention of the tribe was in 1882, when they were referred to as the “Havasu-pai-una.” Some historians believe they may have been descendants of the ancient Sinagua people, who inhabited the area centuries ago.

Whatever their origin, the Havasupai have lived in the Grand Canyon for centuries. They were nomadic people, moving from place to place in search of food and water. The canyon was home to many tribes, including the Hualapai, Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni.

The Havasupai people are a proud and resilient tribe. They have overcome many challenges, but their culture and way of life continue to thrive. If you’re ever lucky enough to visit the Havasupai Reservation, take the time to experience the beauty and culture of this unique tribe.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Arizona

How to Get There

Havasupai

Havasu is located within the Havasupai Indian Reservation and is looked after by the tribe. They handle all reservations for hikers and campers who visit the beautiful site. It is a sacred place to this native Arizonan tribe, so visitors must respect the people and the land.

However, you can’t access the falls from a regular tourist destination. It is a four-hour drive from the Grand Canyon Village to the Havasupai Indian Reservation, and Havasupai Falls are not under the jurisdiction of the Grand Canyon National Park.

There are three ways to get to Havasupai Reservation:

Hiking

Group of hikers in Havasupai Reservation
ryan / Adobe Stock

There’s no better way to see Havasupai in all its glory than to hike in. The Havasupai Reservation is 8 miles down a winding, strenuous hiking trail from the Hualapai Hilltop. The hike takes about 4-5 hours, so pack plenty of water and snacks.

Visiting Havasupai is no walk in the park; however, to see the falls requires a grueling 10-mile hike to get to the campgrounds. The three beautiful blue-green waterfalls are then an additional hike. Spending at least one night in the campgrounds, preferably three, is recommended to enjoy the experience adequately.

If you are an experienced backpacker, the hike-in will be a breeze. It is mostly flat from the trailhead at the Hualapai Hilltop to Supai village at the top of the falls. From Supai to the campground is 2 miles of a relatively steep downhill hike. You can also go to the Colorado River and explore the scenery.

If you aren’t an experienced backpacker, don’t carry your gear for the long hike. Luckily, the Havasupai tribe can send your belongings by helicopter to the Supai village, so you will only need to carry your belongings for a short while rather than a day-long hike.

4-Wheel Drive

Parks Cars in Havasupai Reservation
luvtalkcali / TripAdvisor

If you don’t like hiking, you can always take a 4-wheel drive to the reservation. This is more expensive but much easier than hauling all your gear down the trail. The drive takes about an hour and a half.

Helicopter

Helicopter on the Hualapai Hilltop
Devin Ford / Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The quickest and easiest way to get to Havasupai is by helicopter. This is the most expensive option but also the most convenient. The helicopter ride takes about 10 minutes.

Things to Do at Havasupai, Arizona

Church in Havasupai Indian Reservation

One of the best things about Havasupai is that it’s not as crowded as other parts of the Grand Canyon. This makes it a perfect place to relax and enjoy nature. Plus, the prices are very reasonable – camping is only $10 per night, and entry is just $35, depending on the season and time of the year.

Some things to do at Havasupai include hiking, swimming, and camping.

Swimming

Aerial view of tourists swimming and basking the Havasu Falls Waterfall
ronnybas / Adobe Stock

Havasupai is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and what’s even better is that it’s home to some of the most stunning swimming holes in North America. If you’re looking for a place to cool off and take a dip, Havasupai is the place to be.

The water at Havasupai is crystal clear and has a beautiful turquoise color. It’s the perfect temperature for swimming and refreshing after a long day in the desert heart.

There are a few swimming holes, so you can always find one perfect for you. There are a few other swimming holes, so you can always find one ideal for you. The most popular swimming hole is the Devil’s Hole. It’s located about a mile from the Supai village, the deepest and most dramatic of all the swimming holes at Havasupai.

Hiking

Group of hikers in Havasupai Indian Reservation
Joseph / Adobe Stock

If you want to see Havasupai in all its glory, there’s no better way to hike in. The reservation is 8 miles down a winding, strenuous trail from the Hualapai Hilltop. The hike takes about 4-5 hours, so pack plenty of water and snacks.

There are several hiking trails, so you can always find one perfect. If you’re looking for a shorter hike, the Havasu Falls Trail is a great option as this trail is only 2 miles long and takes about 1-2 hours to hike.

Camping

Tent and Camping in Havasu Falls

If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy nature, Havasupai is the place to be. The camping here is some of the best in the world and is reasonably priced. You can make campground reservations at $100 per night, and the entry fee is $50 depending on the season and time of the year.

There are a few different camping areas, so you can always find one that is perfect. The most popular camping area is located near Havasu Falls.

Other places to visit at the Havasu Indian Reservation

Havasupai Bible Church in Supai, Arizona
Peter Axtell / Adobe Stock

In addition to Havasupai in the Grand Canyon, there are a few other places on the reservation.

  • The most popular place to visit after Havasupai is the village of Supai. This small village is home to a few different shops, including a general store, and it’s a great place to get a bite to eat.
  • Havasu Creek is a beautiful oasis in the heart of the Havasupai Indian Reservation. This picturesque creek is a popular spot for fishing, swimming, and camping. The Havasu Canyon is about 8 miles long and is home to various fish, including rainbow trout, catfish, and bass.
  • Another popular place to visit is the Hualapai Hilltop. This is the starting point for the hike down to Havasupai, and it’s also home to some fantastic views of the Grand Canyon.

Related: The Awesome Spectacle of Niagara Falls

Waterfalls at Havasupai

Once you make it to the campground, there are three Havasupai waterfalls you need to see. Be aware that the water is always 72 degrees. In the hot summer months, this will feel incredibly refreshing. But swimming in early spring or late fall may be too chilly.

Havasu Falls

havasupai-2

Havasu Falls is a quick half-mile from the campgrounds, and you will pass it on your hike down from Supai. The waterfall is over 100 feet high and dumps into a vast pool where you can swim, float, and explore.

Kids and adults alike may enjoy jumping off the rocks and cliffs into the water below- just be careful; the water isn’t always as deep as it looks! The fall changed due to flooding in 2009, but it still stands and is as beautiful as ever.

Mooney Falls

new_mooney_falls

This is the largest of the three spectacular waterfalls, reaching 190 feet high. It is another half-mile hike from the campground in the opposite direction of Havasu Falls but requires a little bit of rock climbing to get down to the base.

A system of ladders, chains, and tunnels gets tourists from the top of the cliff to the bottom of the falls. It is much quieter here with fewer tourists and hikers, so it is a beautiful place to dip in the pool or sprawl out for lunch.

Beaver Falls

Havasupai  Beaver Falls in Grand Canyon, Arizona
Mark Barzman / Adobe Stock

This is the farthest waterfall from the campground, so it is worth the extra hike. When you get down to Mooney Falls, you continue on the trail for another 3 miles to get to the final waterfall. The walk is beautiful, along the river and the Vine Desert oasis.

The canyon is gorgeous, and you will snap many breathtaking photos. When you reach the end, another series of ladders will take you down to the base of the falls.

Beaver Falls is more sprawling than Havasu or Mooney and is the perfect place to swim around and jump in. Again, be careful where you are jumping- the water isn’t always as deep as it looks!

See Related: Best Road Trips in California

Where to Stay Near Havasupai

Aerial view of the Havasu Falls Waterfall in Havasupai Indian Reservation
ryan / Adobe Stock

There are a few different places you can stay while visiting Havasupai. The most popular option is to camp at Havasupai Falls Campground. The campground has running water and toilets, and it’s a great place to meet other hikers and tourists.

If camping isn’t your thing, there are a few different lodges where you can crash. This is the only option for those not camping. Most lodges are located in Supia and have a variety of rooms, some with kitchens, from which to choose.

  • Supai Motel: This motel is also located in Supia and offers basic rooms at a more affordable price than the Havasupai Lodge.
  • Hualapai: This cafe is located in Supia and is a great place to stop for a bite. It has different shops, including a general store, and it’s a great place to get a bite to eat.

Havasupai is such a popular spot to travel that their spaces usually book quickly. If you want to experience Havasupai’s magic, be sure to call or visit the Havasupai website to book your trip. I promise you will want to go back!

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