A Complete Guide to Havasupai Waterfalls, Arizona’s Hidden Water Paradise

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Waterfalls, Arizona’s Hidden Water Paradise

Watch out Maldives, this hidden water paradise in Supai Village may just be the next big travel destination!

If you’ve ever dreamt of being surrounded by endless blue-green waters, this hidden water paradise (brimming with waterfalls and swimming holes) in Arizona is the place to be. Here’s a complete guide on how to best explore the area!

Image credit: Ajith Kumar

Image credit: Shilo2006

Havasupai Indian Reservation Waterfalls

The Havasupai Indian Reservation is a Native American Reservation surrounded by the Grand Canyon and home to the Havasupai Indian Tribe. Nestled in this natural wonder lies the village of Supai and five waterfalls, including the marvellous Havasu falls. The Havasupai Indian Reservation is guarded and maintained by the people of the Havasupai Indian Tribe, who have been living here for more than eight centuries. Travellers from all over the world add this ethereal place to their bucket list every year, but only a few get to see this beauty.

Lil Navajo Falls and Rock Falls

Image credit: Gonzo Fan 2007

These are the two newest additions to the Havasupai Waterfalls family. It is believed that these two waterfalls were created after a flood in 2008. The Lil Navajo Falls and Rock Falls have become crowd favourites among families because you can bask and swim in the clear blue waters beneath the falls. You can even climb onto a relatively low ledge on Rock Falls to admire the crystal clear waters below you! 

Havasupai Falls (Havasu Falls)

Image credit: Robert Hannawacker

Take a 1.6km hike-descend from Lil Navajo Falls and Rock Falls and you’ll find yourself in front of the famous Havasupai Falls, or Havasu Falls for short. You’ll hear the sound of the waterfall crashing into the natural pool even before you reach! When you get here, you will be greeted by beautiful turquoise waters cascading down into a huge swimming hole.

There are picnic tables around the area, so do bring along some sandwiches and enjoy your picnic with a view! The swimming hole will be an especially refreshing retreat on days where temperatures in Arizona go up to 50 degrees Celsius. The Havasupai Falls grounds are vast, so you’ll find ample space to relax under the cottonwood trees, or sunbathe in your own corner without being disturbed.

Campers, we suggest that you head to the camping ground, which is a five-minute walk away, to stash away your belongings before coming back to take a dip.

Mooney Falls

Image credit: Lawepw

Mooney Falls is situated about 1.6km away from Havasupai Falls. It is also the tallest waterfall in Havasupai, boasting a height of just under 60 metres. You can either admire the view from the top or if you’re adventurous enough, take a hike down (descend) the rocks to the bottom of Mooney Falls.

Image credit: Trail Sherpa

Note: No night hiking is allowed here, so unless you can reach Mooney falls at least five hours before the sun sets, we suggest you not do the Mooney Falls descend.

It is also advised not to swim at Mooney Falls due to the strong re-circulating current around and behind the waterfall that can “suck in” and trap even the best swimmers.

Beaver Falls

Image credit: Jangko

About 5km down from Mooney Falls is Beaver Falls, which is a series of five cascading waterfalls. Here you’ll find large natural pools for you to frolic in all day long! Find a quiet spot to sunbathe in bliss or savour your picnic lunch while soaking in the water. What a dream…

Getting to the waterfalls via Supai Village

Image credit: Trail Sherpa

In order to get to the waterfalls, you first need to go on a 16km hike from Hualapai Hilltop to Supai Village. We’re not going to lie, it is going to be a rather arduous four to six-hour journey down, but don’t worry, the trek is well worth it!

The terrain for the first half of the trip down will be rather steep, but once you get to the second half, the roads are flatter and easier to hike. We recommend wearing comfortable and sturdy hiking boots and carrying along an insulated bottle filled with cold water to refresh yourself from the heat. Other important things to pack are power banks, camping equipment, food, and a hiking stick to help ease your way down the steep terrain.

Image credit: Josh Jannsen

Another way to get to Supai Village is by a 7-minute Helicopter ride which gives you an unobstructed birds-eye view of the Grand Canyon. You will need to get to Hualapai Hilltop early if you want to be the first few on the helicopter. However, if there are tribe members also waiting for the helicopter, the priority will go to them.

Website: http://www.airwesthelicopters.com/
Contact: (623) 516-2790

Image credit: Wasif Malik

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Havasupai Indian Tribe is also known as the People of the Blue-green Waters? The tribe is also said to have existed around the Grand Canyon for over eight centuries!

Amenities at Supai

Image credit: Elf

You will find cafes and grocery stores here, but take note that the amenities are very limited and that prices here are higher than usual because tribe members have to transport items down from the mainland. The openings and closing times are rather irregular as well. We suggest packing your own food supply and only purchasing what is necessary from the shops. Most of them accept payment by card but carry along cash as well to be safe.

Getting a permit to enter the hiking trails

By now, you might already be looking up on flights to Arizona. But wait! The Havasupai Indian Tribe requires you to have a valid reservation and permit in order to enter the hiking trails to Supai.

The Havasupai Indian Tribe has an official website to view the dates available for booking, maps, important information, and the amenities available. There is a mandatory minimum stay of one night, and a maximum stay of three nights. If you wish to stay longer, you have to book two stays separately, and even then, it’s not guaranteed that you can get the dates back-to-back. Make sure to properly read the rules and restrictions on staying at the falls as fines of US$1,000 (~S$1,327) are imposed if you break them.

Reservations can be made online or by calling the tourist office at (928) 448-2121. Do note that if you are calling, you may have to try a few times because their hotline is almost always full. Perseverance is key here!

Permits for the year typically sell out within two weeks of the booking date, so check the website frequently for updates on the next year’s booking date and get everything ready so you can be one of the 200 people to secure your permit. You will be asked to make the full payment through Visa or Mastercard once your booking is made.

Permit pricing per person (based on 2018)
2 days / 1 night: US$140.56 (~S$186.44)
3 days / 2 nights: US$171.12 (~S$226.98)
4 days / 3 nights: US$201.67 (~$267.50)
*Prices may be subjected to change in 2019
*In the event that a tourist needs emergency vehicular transportation, the tribe will impose a fee of US$550 (~S$663.21).

Accommodation at Havasupai Falls

Image credit: Elf

You can choose to bring your own camping equipment and sleep at the campsite near Havasupai Falls, or you can stay at the Havasupai Lodge in Supai Village. Do note that hot water showers are not available at the Havasupai Lodge.

Reservations for the lodge can only be made by calling them at (928) 448-2111 or (928) 448-2201.

Room pricing (up to four people): US$175/room (~S$232)
Non-refundable deposit: US$60.50 (~S$80)
Entrance fee: US$90/person (~S$120)
*Prices may be subjected to change

Bag transportation

Image credit: Elf

You can opt to have your bags transported down either by helicopter or by horses while you hike down with a lighter load. You will need to call Airwest to inquire about the bag transportation via helicopter. If you choose the horses, make sure to book at least a week in advance through the Havasupai Lodge. The horses can only carry a maximum of four bags or up to 50kg.

Helicopter price (one way): ~US$20/bag (~S$26.50)
Horse price: US$96 (~S$127) one way, US$150 (~S$199) round trip
Contact (Airwest Helicopter): (623) 516-2790

Best time to visit Havasupai

It is recommended that you visit Havasupai between March to May, and September to November. June to August is the Summer period in Havasupai, and believe it or not, temperatures can soar up to 50 degrees Celsius on the hiking terrain. Oddly enough, July through August is also the monsoon season, so tides are higher, and the falls are not safe to swim in or visit.

What to pack

Image credit: Toddonflickr

We have carefully curated a list of things you must bring on this trip in order to get through the hike safely. Remember that you are hiking through open desert-like terrain, so the heat can be quite unforgiving.

  • Permit to enter Supai (you will be asked to hike back up if you don’t have this)
  • Sunscreen with SPF50
  • Aloe vera gel
  • At least four litres of water
  • Food and snacks
  • First aid
  • Medication (you should bring some for headaches)
  • A sturdy pair of hiking boots (you will be hiking a lot to get to the various waterfalls)
  • Hiking pole

What to wear

Image credit: jon Roig

While it is okay to swim around in your bikini or swimming trunks, you will need to be appropriately dressed while hiking both to and in Supai Village, and around the waterfalls. This means no crop tops, overly-flashy tops, booty shorts, or mini skirts. You may be tempted to because of the crazy heat, but it’s best to respect the locals. Nudity is also not allowed here!

While this information might be a lot to digest and discourage you from the planning, the beauty and magnificence of the Havasupai Indian Reserves is definitely worth all the hassle and preparation.

Besides, it’s only the start of 2018! This means you have an entire year to save up and increase your fitness levels before visiting Supai. No excuses. See you in Supai in 2019!

About Author

Cheryl Teng
Cheryl Teng

When Guan Yin Ma was blessing others with the gift of height, she left Cheryl out because she realised that great things should come in tiny packages, so she gifted Cheryl with endless energy, sass, and a huge smile to top it all off. Most days, she can be found planning her world domination, reading up on war and conspiracy theories, or sniffing around for cheap travel deals because she spends all her money on food.

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