Havasupai Falls, located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, is every
bit as magical as the hundreds of photos you see from advertising and visitors’ experiences. The question most people face when it comes to Havasupai Falls is not “Do I want to go?” but, “How is visiting this magical land doable?”
Visiting Havasupai may not be as difficult as trying to find Never
Never Land, but it could cost you about the same as visiting Disney World, depending on your preferred experience. Nonetheless, a trip to Havasupai is a priceless experience everyone should plan for himself or herself. My husband and I had opportunities to visit Havasupai twice in the last three years. Each time we went we learned something new about the area and were awed by the beauty of the Grand Canyon all over again. Here are some key lessons I’ve learned about visiting Havasupai.
Know the History of the Area
Havasupai Falls belongs to the Havasupai Tribe who maintains the
area and controls the reservations. It is a privilege to have access
to the Havasupai Indian Reservation and knowing the history of
the Havasupai area gives you much more of an appreciation for
visiting. If you are traveling with a group, the history, and even
controversies of the area are great conversations to have while
hiking the 10 miles to the campground.
Make Your Reservations Well in Advance
Since our last visit, the Havasupai Tribe has made several changes
in order to accommodate the high demand of visitors. There is
now a website, which allows campers to reserve their camping
spots virtually, rather than calling the Havasupai reservation
lines. As of now, the camping spots are booked for 2018. There
are options to go through an outdoor guide company for a
camping spot and outdoor guide. Another option is to continue
calling the Havasupai reservation lines and hope someone
answers to see if there are any cancellations. To get reservations, it is so important to make them as soon as the window opens for the following year. It may seem quite far ahead to plan, but trust me the visit is worth it.
Ask Around for Extra Camping Spots
Both times I visited I was able to join a group who had extra camping
spots. It is common for people to reserve more spots than needed,
because they know how difficult it is to make the reservations in the
first place. If you hear of anyone planning their trip to Havasupai, let
them know you are interested if anyone in their party cancels. You will
need to be with the group in order to get checked into the Havasupai
campgrounds, but hiking with new people is a great way to make the
experience that much more memorable.
Carry Your Own Pack Into the Canyon
The Havasupai tribe offers options for campers to have their backpacks
carried in by mules, or you can fly in to the Havasupai Camp by helicopter.
Both are options for visitors who cannot physically make the ten-mile trek to the campgrounds. From personal experience however, part of what makes the trip to Havasupai falls so spectacular is the challenge of
completing the hike. As with any goal that takes time and effort to complete, the reward is so much more enjoyable. If you are able, train to make the hike. You will also come across several other hikers with their packs. It is a bonding experience to share the same pain of carrying your pack. In addition, it is an amazing feeling to camp knowing you carried the camping essentials on your back.
Pack Your Pack Well
The rewarding feeling of packing the necessities of your stay are not worth it if you did not do your research and pack well. There are several online resources that give you a good idea of what to bring on a backpacking trip. I will just share with you my experiences while packing for Havasupai.
Obviously, you need to know what the weather will be like while you are there. The top of the Grand Canyon is quite a bit cooler than the Havasupai land in the bottom of the canyon. The warmer temperatures are nice if you plan on swimming in the beautiful Havasupai Falls. When I visited in the spring, the water was cool, and I preferred to stay on dry land to enjoy the beautiful view of the falls. In the falls however, the weather was warm enough to wade through and get a closer view. Even if you do not plan on swimming, I recommend planning to at least step in the water to refresh your feet after the long hike.
Pack Food that you will Enjoy
There are a few stands that the Havasupai tribe sets
up for the visitors to buy freshly made foods, such as fry
bread. There is also a small convenient store and café
about two miles from the camp site, located in the to the
Havasupai village. However, there are several great
backpacking recipes to make at your own camp site. Some
of my favorite backpacking meals are ones I’ve dehydrated
at home for a quick meal that I know I will like. If you plan
far enough in advance you can experiment with different
recipes at home so you know exactly what to expect, and
look forward too after your day of adventuring in Havasupai.
Look at All Your Options
Just being in the Havasupai area is a once in a lifetime
experience. It is overwhelming when you first see the falls and
find your camp spot amongst the beautiful Havasupai waters.
The first time I visited, it felt like I was in another world. I also
was lucky enough to be traveling with someone who had visited before. They helped guide me through different trails
to other breathtaking destinations like Moony Falls and Beaver Falls.
If you do not have someone traveling with you who knows the area, make sure to do your research to plan which hikes you would like to see. It is easy to sit at the camp site all
day and relax after your long hike, but with the availability of those camping spots limited, you’ll want to see as much as you
can while you are in the canyon. A hired outdoor guide can also lead your trip for the full experience.
Don’t Give Up
Visiting Havasupai is an experience everyone should have. If you are
planning a trip to Havasupai do not let the challenges and high demand
discourage you from visiting. Keep searching for options and asking
around for open spots. If you are unable to visit in person, watch many of
the viral videos that showcase the beauty of Havasupai. Read up on the
history of the area, the science of the blue water, and the experiences of
those who have traveled to the area. It is fascinating. The more you learn
about Havasupai, the more you will see the wonder of the Grand Canyon
and fall in love with the outdoors even more.