If you love chasing waterfalls, enjoy hiking in canyons, swimming in beautiful turquoise waters, and sleeping under the stars then Supai, Arizona should be on your adventure destination list! Supai is an amazing destination where you not only get to experience the famous Havasupai Falls but also Mooney Falls, Navajo Falls, Fifty Foot Falls, Beaver Falls, and more!
Havasupai Falls Backpacking Guide
Updated as of 1/25/23
Here is everything you need to know about visiting Havasupai Falls in Arizona.
Booking Your Reservation
The trickiest part is securing a reservation. 2017 was the first year you were able to make reservations online. And as of 2019, all reservations are online ONLY. Do not call because they no longer take reservations by phone.
Prior to 2020 permit reservations would open up on February 1st at 8 am Arizona time.
Havasupai is welcoming tourists back starting February 1, 2023, for current permit holders. This is for those who purchased their permits for the 2020 season. If you want to visit in 2023 you can purchase off the “transfer list.” You’ll need to open an account, on the official Havasupai Tribe site. Then check each day at 8:00 am Arizona time and check for available dates.
When you create an account you’ll be asked for your credit card information so have that ready.
Check out any updates on the official Havasupai Tribe reservations site!
All fees and prices are subject to change without prior notice. Confirm pricing with the Havasupai Tourist Enterprises when making your reservation.
Fees for 2023:
ALL campground reservations are 3 Nights / 4 Days, for a total of $395 per person
Prices include all necessary permits, fees, and taxes
Campground reservations are priced per person and can include up to 12 people in total per reservation.
The Drive to The Trailhead
It took almost seven hours to drive from Los Angeles to reach the Hualapai Hilltop Trailhead. The van we rented was loaded up with myself and 11 other girls. We left LA at 9:45pm and arrived around 4:30am the following morning. We wanted to start early so we could avoid as much heat as possible. And we decided to drive straight there instead of getting a hotel close to the trailhead. The closest hotel/motel is about 65 miles away which is another option or you can also sleep in your car at the trailhead. It’s all pavement at the trailhead and I don’t believe you can pitch a tent.
The Hike In
The hike into the canyon is 10 miles (eight from the trailhead to the village and another two miles to the campground) but it’s all downhill making it a bit easier for you. Most people choose to carry their own backpack in with all their gear but there is an option to utilize a mule. Mules can carry up to 130 pounds and can carry up to four packs (the items need to be in a duffle bag or a backpack so that’s easy to distribute the weight on the mule). The mules can carry up to four individual bags.
Please note that the 8 mile section of trail between the Hilltop Trailhead and the Village of Supai is closed each night between sunset and 4:00 am.
I don’t recommend using a mule as there have been many reports of mules passing out from heat and exhaustion. I mention the mules here because it is an option but if you pack the right amount of gear, there is no need for a mule.
Alternative Ways of Getting to Supai
If the 10-mile hike in is a bit too much there are a couple options: you can ride a horse in or you can helicopter in. From March 15 to October 15 the helicopter runs from 10am – 1pm on Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Friday. From October 16 to March 14 it runs Sunday and Friday from 10am – 1pm. It’s first come, first serve so it’s important to arrive early to secure a place in line. They pick up and drop off between the hilltop, just below the trailhead on the canyon side and the helipad next to the tourism office. Each way will cost $85 and cash payment is recommended.
Please keep in mind that prices are subject to change. Airwest is the helicopter operator.
Rates for Horses & Mules:
Round Trip: Hilltop to campground & Back is $187
One Way: $95
Rates are always subject to change, check with the office
If you just need to secure a mule for the way out like my friends and I did arrangements can be made in person at the office. You can do this at check-in or after but you do need to do it at least a day prior to your departure date. We did this the second day after we realized how much hiking we were going to be doing (and how much we had already done).
Note that there have been reports of animal cruelty, especially with the horses at Havasupai. I did see some horses that were a bit on the skinny side but I didn’t see anything first-hand beyond that. The mules appeared to be in good shape. Please take into consideration the animals at Havasupai. If something doesn’t feel right or look right and you’re able to hike in/out or take your pack in/out, please do.
Setting Up Camp
There are no assigned camping sites at Supai. It’s first come, first serve. The campground is long and has plenty of room so scout around for a spot that works for you. There are plenty of trees so it’s a perfect campground for a hammock. I took my 2-person tent but a friend of mine brought an extra hammock for me. I slept in the hammock the first two nights. The night can get a little chilly. It was about 50 degrees F at the end of summer and I was comfortable sleeping in my sleeping bag. It did get a bit chilly the first night when I decided I didn’t need the sleeping back. That was a mistake. I crawled into my tent for the rest of the night.
The campsite stretches along a stream that leads to Mooney Falls. You can sleep pretty close to the top of Mooney Falls if you’d like but it is pretty noisy. However, this area is great for star gazing because there are no trees in the way.
What To Do at Supai
There’s plenty to do at Supai. Once you’ve reached the Supai Village you will have completed eight miles. You might still have cellular service here but once you’re at the campground that service will be long gone so if you need to make a call do it here. There’s also wifi in the lodge so if you’re having trouble connecting try to get on the wifi.
On the two-mile hike from the village to the campground, you’ll pass Navajo Falls and Havasupai Falls. These are great waterfalls that are in the immediate area. At the end of the campground is Mooney Falls. You’ll have to climb down a rock tunnel on wooden ladders. Be cautious because the ladders do get wet from the falls and become slippery. Once you’re down there you can hang out near the falls or in the lower “pool” area. There’s also a rope swing you can jump off from.
Three miles from Mooney Falls is Beaver Falls. This waterfall isn’t massive in height like many of the other falls but the swimming area is wide. There’s also less of a crowd since it’s further away from the campground.
If you get tired of the waterfalls (but why would you?) you can hike to the Colorado River. From Beaver Falls it’s about an additional five miles although I’m not sure how accurate that is. My friends and I attempted the hike but we lost the trail. However one of my friends tried to find the trail again the following day and it was a success. She tracked about 26 miles that day on her Fitbit so it’s possible that the trail she ended up taking was a bit longer.
There are tons to explore around the campground. Our group was large and some of the girls found a “pool” on top of Havasupai Falls they hung out in while others hung out in the hammocks. And if you love lounging in the water don’t forget your pool floatie!
Prepping food for camping is one of my favorite things to do. You’ll probably be doing a lot of hiking while at Supai so load up on carbs and foods that are high in sodium. My favorite camping food is ramen noodles. I easily boil water with a portable stove and I’m ready to go. My friends are big fans of pre-made backpacking meals. Mountain House is a popular brand and you can purchase this online or at an outdoor equipment store such as REI. I also like tuna in a pouch and Spam in a pouch. Spam isn’t a favorite for everyone but eating some sort of meat product while roughing it just hits the spot. Alternatively, you can bring beef jerky to satisfy your carnivore needs. And if you’re a fan of s’mores like me, pre-pack the amount you’ll use you need to make some.
Please note that all food must be protected at all times and a bear canister is now required. While there are not bears in the Havasupai area there are other critters.
Don’t forget snacks like nuts, trail mix, and dried fruit. Bars also go a long way especially when you’re hiking. Clif, Kind, and Larabars are my favorites. I also bring dark chocolate. I have a sweet tooth and I’m a happier camper when I have some chocolate. An important substance that isn’t really a snack is energy chews and gels. What are energy chews you might ask? They are gummy chews (or a gel) that you eat (or drink) to give you a boost of energy. These are great for the hike in and out. I took about eight packs and each pack came with four chews.
I keep all my food in an odor-proof bag no matter where I’m backpacking. It keeps my food dry and organized in my pack and animals can’t smell that I have food. At the campground, you can borrow a bucket with a top to store your food. This is recommended so critters don’t mess with your food. I saw a mouse one night but they’re just looking for something to eat.
An important thing to remember is to stay hydrated! Water is an absolute must while hiking. You’ll want at least three liters for the hike in and at least 5 for the hike out, especially if you’re in the heat. There’s clean drinking water at the campsite so unless you’re going on an extra long excursion that’s away from the campground you can forgo the water filter. And to make sure you’re staying hydrated, pack some electrolytes. I brought dissolvable electrolyte tablets and dropped them into my water bottle.
What to Pack
Basic backpacking gear is recommended for Supai. If you’re only planning on staying in a tent, bring a tent but if you have a hammock and are comfortable sleeping in it you can leave your tent behind. However, do check the weather for rain. It rained while I was there which is common in the canyon so you’ll want a waterproof tarp to put over your hammock and belongings. I also recommend a sleeping bag. Check the weather to make sure your sleeping bag will keep you warm enough.
You’ll need cooking supplies for your food and a utensil to eat with (a backpackers multi-use utensil works best). If you’re in a group I recommend consolidated and only bring one portable stove for every four people. And don’t forget propane. Depending on the group size and what you’re planning to make you may only need a small canister.
Gear List: • Tent and/or hammock 1-person tent 2-person backpacking tent I personally love Marmot tents. If you're more comfortable sleeping on your own I suggest getting a 1-person tent, but if you hike in groups and prefer a tent-mate then get a 2-person tent. It'll weigh a little more but you and your tent-mate can split the weight. • Waterproof tarp This was easy to set up and works like a charm! • Sleeping bag • Sleeping pad if you're sleeping in a tent • Trekking poles • Portable stove/Jet Boil • Propane canister • Eating utensil • Solar-powered lantern • Headlamp Black Diamond is a reputable brand and this one emits 300 lumens (that’s BRIGHT!!) • Water bladder (3 liter bladder is recommended) Platypus is a great brand and their bladders are the easiest to clean! • Water bottle (you’ll want a water bottle for your cooking water and/or to drop your electrolyte tablets in) I love Hydro Flask because my water will stay cold or hot for hours and that makes a huge difference when it's super hot or cold outside. • Extra large ZipLock bags (you need to carry-out your trash so bring at least 2) • Ear plugs • Travel sized toiletries (skip anything you can do without and use biodegradable products if you plan on washing in the stream) • Toilet paper • Bug spray • Sunscreen • Small first aid kit • Moleskin to prevent blisters • Day pack Clothing List: • Hat/cap for sun protection • Dryfit tops • Athletic shorts and or pants • Dryfit undergarments • Light waterproof jacket (check weather if needed) • Hiking boots This is the boot that I used on the trail and I still use today. They’re a bit more expensive than the average boot but I had never had a blister and they’ve been the most comfortable boot for me. • Moisture wicking socks • Swimsuit • Sturdy water sandals that you can swim and hike in or water shoes but you will need to hike in your boots if you bring water shoes instead • Flip flops (or use your water sandals) • Travel towel
The Hike Out
So now for the hike out. This is uphill so it’s going to be more difficult than your hike in. And after your days of hiking from waterfall to waterfall, you’re probably going to be a bit tired. We reserved a mule to carry out packs for that reason. After three days of trekking carrying 30-40 pounds (depending on how you pack) uphill is brutal.
Side note (updated October 2017):
I recently revisited Havasupai and did the hike with my pack. I packed as light as possible without skipping out on the essentials and took my time. We left our campsite at 3am and arrived at the hilltop at 8:30am. Take your time, make some stops to eat and don’t forget to stay hydrated! Upon completing the hike we pack the van and headed home. Last year we waited hours for the mules to arrive with our packs. If you don’t want to hike with your pack and don’t want to use a mule the helicopters can transport your pack for a fee.
Pack plenty of water for the hike out. There is no water available after the village. I packed five liters and felt like that was enough. It’s also good to prehydrate and stay hydrated so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water while you’re at Supai.
Alternative Ways of Getting Out of Supai
Again there’s hiking out, riding a horse out or taking a helicopter. Don’t forget to make reservations for the horse when you’re booking your reservation. You can also make the reservation for the mule at this time as well. You must make the reservation for a one-way mule out at least one day in advance.
Once you’ve reached the top of the trailhead you have completed your trip back! If you had a mule carry your pack you may have to wait until around 2pm to retrieve the pack. The mules arrive around 2pm (at least they did when I went), but ask the office and ask again when you drop off your packs at the campground.
Enjoy your trip to Supai and have a blast at the falls!
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Check out my video from Havasupai!