When most people think about Arizona, they think of a hot, dry deserted desert at the bottom of the United States. What people don’t realize is that Arizona is filled with forests, lakes, canyons, mountain ranges and beautiful deserts. One of the most popular scenic locations of Arizona is the Grand Canyon. In early April 2017 we got the chance to explore the Havasu Canyon after strenuous attempts to get a permit.
The day before the big trip we packed our gear, double checked and checked again. We left our house in the southeast valley of Phoenix, Thursday evening around 6pm. Once we turned onto Indian Road 18 (60 miles to trail-head) it seemed to go on forever, maybe it was the dodging of all the deer in the dark of the night. We arrived at the trail-head just before midnight, the parking lot was packed with cars and extremely windy. The crew all slept in the truck, if you would even call it sleeping. The time seemed to go by so slow, maybe it was the anticipation or the crick in my neck.
Finally it was the day we have all been waiting for. The parking lot came alive as the sun came up and the freezing winds died down. The trail starts out on a cliff overlooking the mile and a half of switchbacks that drop down into the canyon.
The trek down the switchbacks was a breeze, but in the back of my mind I was thinking about the big mountain I had to climb to get back to the truck. At the bottom of the hill the trail becomes a wash which descends into the canyon for the next 7 to 8 miles. The wash is filled with red rock walls that seem to get taller and taller the deeper we get into the canyon. This part offers little to no shade so pull out your sunglasses. Every now and then you start to hear a rumble from around the corner. A whole train of pack mules, wild dogs and a lone tribal wrangler come trampling by.
3 hours later…you come to a fork in the road with a sign pointing towards Supai. At that point you start to get excited, are the falls near? The trail turns into lush green trees and we get our first glimpse of the beauty of the crystal clear creek water. The trail opens up into a wide vast Supai village. At the village there is a convenience store and the tourist office for check-in. From the village to the campgrounds is another 2 miles of soft beach like sand with sites of blue-green falls and bridge crossings. If you’re lucky you can make some doggy friends on the way.
Suddenly you reach the jaw dropping Havasu Falls, making the 10 mile hike all worth it. After passing Havasu falls you enter the campgrounds and it’s time to find the ultimate spot to spend a couple days kicking back enjoying the beauty that surrounds us. The campgrounds spread from Havasu falls to the top of Mooney Falls with the creek weaving through. We found a spot right next to the water after crossing one of the many makeshift bridges. After plopping our bags onto the picnic table around 11:30am, we celebrated our arrival.
The first day was spent at Havasu Falls. The powerful, mist from the falls graced us and we enjoyed our day exploring around. I was amazed at the colors from the moss against the red rock above the teal clear water. I ate a lot that day and was ready for dinner quite early. That night in the tent seemed luxurious compared to the last night we spent in the truck.
The next day we got a early start and ventured off to Mooney Falls. I did not know what awaited me at the top of that hill. There’s only one way down to the falls, through a dark cave, leading to a steep drop off filled with chains, wooden ladders and slippery rock. To say the least I was terrified but I did it! After a quick stop, we decided to follow the creek down 3 miles to Beaver Falls. The hike there is beautiful, it is filled with creek crossings (water shoes would be ideal) and lush green trees. I would recommend bringing a day bag with snacks, sunscreen and water.
We returned to find that our food had been broken into by some no shame squirrels. Beware of those squirrels. The last night was spent around camp telling stories, watching stars and searching for creatures. We started our trip back home around sunrise and it was a tough one, especially the last mile and a half. Once we reached the top I had one destination, the port-o-potty! Our three day, two night stay at Havasupai was something to be remembered and a must on your bucket list!
What to bring
- Backpack at least a 50 liter pack. I like Kelty but there are lots of brands out there.
- Lightweight tent or some use a hammock
- Hydration bladder (2 liters)
- Sunscreen (sun bum smells great)
- Lightweight sleeping bag (20 degree or less) it gets pretty chilly at night.
- First Aid Kit
- Hiking Shoes (I like Keens)
- Lightweight backpacking stove w/ propane
- Water shoes & Flip flops (Speedo are perfect to walk in)
- Collapsible platypus bottle for camp water
- Lightweight cookware
- Bio-degradable soap
- MRE’s (Jerk Chicken is my favorite) or good old Macaroni and Cheese
- Bathing suit
- Squirrel proof bag
- Trailhead- Hualapai Hilltop (Only port-o-potty’s)
- Trailhead to Supai Village 8 miles
- Supai to Campgrounds 2 miles
- Campgrounds to Mooney Falls 0.5 miles
- Mooney Falls to Beaver Falls 3 miles
- Campground amenities: bathrooms, picnic table, spring water and fry bread hut
For more information visit Official Havasupai Website