The Havasupai Trail
3 nights / 4 days
Hualapai Hilltop/Havasupai Trailhead
Type of Trail
Out and Back
Best time to go
March, April, October, November
About the Havasupai Trail
Deep in the gorges of the magnificent Grand Canyon, there is a magical place. A place of turquoise blue waters and red rock ambiance that will leave you in awe.
Havasupai Indian Reservation is where you'll find this dream-like wilderness. The Havasupai Native Tribe lives in the isolated village of Supai.
Havasu means “blue-green water” and pai means “people." Thus, they are also known as the people of the blue-green water.
To access the trail, there are a few steps to take to prepare for ahead of time. In this article, we will provide the necessary information for you to plan your trip and what to expect.
How to Prepare for the Havasupai Trail
The Havasupai Trail is rated as 'difficult' due to the terrain being rocky and steep. Also, you have to handle not only the weight on your back, but the elevation change as well.
Therefore, before embarking, we recommend undergoing a training routine to ensure you are in proper shape. Good methods include using a stair stepper, resistance training focusing on your legs and back and increasing your endurance through cardio such as running or hiking outdoors.
Obtaining a Permit to Hike the Havasupai Trail
Before hiking the Havasupai trail, you must acquire the necessary permit.
At the time of writing, hiking permits for the Havasupai trail open on February 1 MST time at 8 am. You will need to create an account to apply for a campground reservation. Permits fill up fast, so be flexible and persistent when you are applying for your hiking dates.
Typically, it fills up within the first couple of hours. If you don’t end up with a permit on that day, you can always check for cancellations throughout the year. Also, check the website often for available permits during the ideal month you want to visit.
The best time of the year to receive permits is either March-April to beat the summer heat. Or October-November to beat the crowds. July-August has potential flash floods, so keep that aspect in mind when attempting to get a permit.
Self-Carry vs. Pack Mule
Once you have your permit, the first detail to consider is how to transport your supplies during the hike.
Do you want to backpack with all your equipment, or do you want to pay for a pack mule to haul it down?
If you decide the mule route, you will need to reserve a mule before your hike. Make your reservation on the tribe's official Havasupai website.
Pack Mule (RT)
As of 2020, fees per pack mule are $400 round-trip between the trailhead and campground entrance. Note that fees are subject to change yearly.
One Pack Mule can carry up to 4 bags with a maximum of 32 pounds per bag. The largest bag size is 36 inches long by 19 inches wide by 19 inches tall. All baggage must be soft-sided, such as a duffel bag. Coolers are not permitted.
If using the mules, we recommend you to drop off your bags no later than 10 am at the trailhead on the hike in. And no later than 7 am at the campground on the hike out.
Lodging on the Havasupai Trail
The next detail to consider is lodging.
Do you want to camp for three nights in the Havasupai Campground, or do you want to stay at the lodge in the Supai Village? Please note that there are no day trips on the Havasupai trail. Thus, spending the night is a requirement.
Min # of Nights
Mon - Thu
Fri - Sun & Holidays
The Havasupai Tribe requires a minimum of 3 nights to stay at the Havasupai Campground and Lodge.
For the Campground, the fee is $100 per person per night from Monday-Thursday. And $125 per night from Friday-Sunday and on holidays. The tribe requires an upfront payment when you book your reservations. Also, they don't allow refunds.
Lodge fees are $440 per room per night, with rooms accommodating up to 4 people. When you reserve your room, there is a $100 deposit per room per night. Also, there is a $110 entrance/environmental fee per person. You can book your lodge reservation on the Havasupai website.
The fees are subject to change, so check the website for the latest pricing.
Getting to the Havasupai Trailhead
First, figure out what fits you or your group’s itinerary on getting to the trailhead.
If you're flying in, the closest two airports are Las Vegas and Phoenix. Las Vegas is about 4 hours away, and Phoenix is 5 hours.
Some hikers sleep at the trailhead the night before to ensure they beat the heat on their hike in. Other hikers stay in a motel the night before during the cooler months since it’s not such a rush to start earlier.
If you decide to stay in a motel, the last town with places to stay before the trailhead is Seligman, Arizona. There are plenty of options to spend the night there at affordable prices.
Peach Springs, Arizona, is the last town you will pass through before the hour drive to the trailhead. Be sure to have enough fuel to make it there and home.
What you pack in, you must pack out
You will have to carry all your trash on your hike out. Be sure to bring enough trash bags for your group. Leave nothing but footprints.
Beware of the Wildlife
While enjoying your time down in Supai, there is one thing you need to be extremely cautious of during your stay. The Critters. The raccoons and other rodents are ruthless when it comes to getting their dinner.
They will chew through a tent, sleeping bag, and even a backpack to get to a piece of food they have caught the scent of.
Be sure to bring a Ratsack to keep your food safe and critter-proof. Also, be sure to hang your Ratsack in a tree so the critters can’t run off with your food supply.
What to Pack for the Havasupai Trail
As with any backpacking trip, it is crucial to have the appropriate gear and equipment. Below was our packing list bearing in mind that we hiked the trail in November.
What we Used
Jet Boil & Fuel
Pots & Pans
Clothing & Footwear
2 x long sleeve t-shirts,
Food & Water
Ready to eat meals
Other Gear & Accessories
First Aid Kit
For other gear recommendations, check out our expert buying guides -
What to Expect on the Havasupai Trail
Below is the itinerary for a 4-day, 3-night hike.
Day 1: Hiking to the Havasupai Campground – 10 miles total
We recommend that you start your trek before 7 am in the hotter months, and no later than 10 am in the cooler months. At the trailhead, after parking and gearing up, you can check-in with the front desk.
From the trailhead to the Supai Village is roughly 8 miles. The Tourist Check-In Office is located in the village.
You need to show them your ID, credit card, and receipt of your permit. The person who booked the trip, "Trip Leader," must be present for the tribe to honor your reservation.
Tourist Check-in Office
May - October
6am - 6pm
November - April
9am - 5pm
After checking in, if you are camping, you will continue the hike two more miles to the campground. On the way to the campground, you can veer off to check out Navajo Falls and Fifty Foots Falls. Be prepared for the immaculate Havasu Falls on your right.
Continue to follow the trail down to the campground and pick your campsite for the night. The campground fits about 350 people. Although the permit guarantees your campsite, the mile-long campground is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Day 2: Hiking to Beaver Falls – 6 miles
Hike to the end of the campground. You will see Mooney Falls on your right.
Remember to wear sturdy water shoes. You will need to climb through a cave and down ladders to get to Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls.
Beware that this is a startling descent. But by moving with caution in every step, you will get through this part fine. Remember to also pack enough drinking water and snacks for this day excursion.
Once at Mooney Falls, it’ll be about 5 miles to reach Beaver Falls. Keep your eyes peeled for some Big Horn Sheep along the way!
Be sure to make your way back to your campsite before sunset. So to avoid climbing the ladders from Mooney Falls back to the campground in the dark. There are no lights around the ladder descend/ascend or at the campground.
Day 3: Explore Havasu Falls and Relax
Head back to the entrance of the campground to enjoy and explore Havasu Falls. It’s a great place to swim and relax for a few hours. Take this day to rest and gather energy for the hike out the following day.
While relaxing, try a Havasupai Tribe treat. They make their famous Fry Bread. There are several stations you can buy a plate. Be sure to bring cash, which is the only acceptable payment method.
You can also head back to the Supai village (2-mile hike) to check out the general store or cafeteria.
Day 4: Hike back to the Trailhead – 10 miles
Start your hike out early to avoid the crowds and especially the heat. Take the trail the same way you took it down. Expect for the hike out to take around 6 hours, since it is mainly uphill the entire way out.
Havasupai Trail Highlights
- Havasu Falls (Havasupai Falls): This waterfall sits about 100 feet high.
- Mooney Falls: Is the tallest of the Havasupai Reservation waterfalls. This waterfall sits about 200 feet high.
- Beaver Falls: These falls are a small set that is about 3 miles from Mooney Falls. The hike through the canyon to Beaver Falls is breathtaking.
- Supai Fry Bread: As mentioned before, be sure to bring cash! The tribe has several Fry Bread stations you can buy this delicious snack at. Top your Fry Bread with Nutella, cinnamon or peanut butter to treat yourself! Options on the menu range from $10-$20.
The Havasupai Trail - FAQ
Are permits refundable?
No. To get around that, you can add your reservation to the cancelation list on the reservation site. Another hiker can accept your permit dates and pay the reimbursement.
Do you have to pay for parking at the trailhead?
No parking fees at the trailhead.
Are campfires allowed?
No campfires allowed.
Are there bathrooms at the campground?
There are 4 small buildings throughout the campground - each with about 2-bathroom stalls. There was usually a wait to use the bathroom. Bring your own toilet paper just in case.
Are there sinks at the campground?
There are no sinks at the campground, so be sure to bring biodegradable soap and hand sanitizer. Washing your dishes in the stream is also NOT permitted.
To avoid the remains trickling into the water, you can rinse your dishes away from the stream. Let your dishes air dry or wipe with a towel.
Are there showers at the campground?
There are no showers at the campground. Keep in mind showering in the stream with soap is NOT permitted. Though, you can jump in the water to cool off. Or pack wet wipes to wipe off.
Are alcohol and recreational drugs allowed?
Not allowed. Security will search your car before you arrive at the trailhead.
Are hammocks allowed?
Yes. If it’s the hotter season, a hammock is best to use for your shelter. There are plenty of trees to hang your hammock on.
Where is the water spigot in the campground?
Towards the front of the campground is the water spigot. It is well-marked with signs.
Do I need to filter my water from the spout?
You do not need to filter the spigot water, as it comes from a natural spring.
You may want to purify to get rid of viruses and bacteria.
The only water you need to filter is the water taken from the streams. Learn more about water purification here - Best Backpacking Water Purifier.
Is the hike dog-friendly?
Unfortunately, no. Leave the fur babies at home for this one.
What is the atmosphere of the Havasupai campground?
The atmosphere of the campground is friendly, relaxing, tranquil, and low stress. Everyone is either cooking, relaxing, or chatting among their group.
Well, there you have it, all you need to know before embarking on hiking the beautiful Havasupai Trail.
It is a once in a lifetime trip that will take you through one of the seven wonders of the world. You will get to experience the Grand Canyon’s most spectacular waterfalls.
Add it to the bucket list and happy hiking!
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