fuji film xt2

13 things I wish I knew before a trip Havasu Falls

The Havasupai Reservation was one of the most beautiful, magical, natural places I’ve ever experienced. If you’re interested in nature, camping or hiking in any capacity, you NEED to make it here to see the turquoise waters and flowing waterfalls for yourself. Here’s what you need to know…

  1. The falls are 10 miles into the Grand Canyon in Supai, Arizona and are part of the Havasupai Native American Reservation. You MUST make reservations for at least one night to visit as a tourist, though I recommend two or three nights!
  2. Plan ahead, and book in advance.  I counted down until the 2018 reservations opened (Feb. 1 at 9 a.m.) and booked within minutes. This is the way to do it if you want to make it to the campground and falls. Check the website for details on how.
  3. Be prepared to spend more than your usual camping reservation, but know that it’s worth every penny. Check the website for the most up to date costs. 
  4. How to get there: fly into Las Vegas, Nevada or Phoenix, Arizona and drive about four hours. We rented a car in Vegas, grabbed last minute snacks and camp stove fuel at Walmart, and stayed the night at Hualaupai Lodge. We chose to stay in a hotel instead of the car so we could pack our packs and get a good night’s rest. The hotel was about 1.5 hours from the trail head (I used the “Havasupai Trailhead” destination in Google Maps as my guide). Some hikers will sleep in their cars at the trail head to get an early start.

    Hiking in Havasu Canyon

    It’s not always about the destination. The 10 mile journey through the Grand Canyon was also magnificent.

  5. Did I say it was 10 miles? From the trail head, it’s approximately eight miles to the Havasupai village and another two to the campground. It’s all downhill one way and up the way back (steep for the first mile or two, then very gradual for the rest of the trek). Took us about 3.5 hours down and 5 hours up. It’s not necessarily a “hard” hike, but will take some endurance, snacks and water! We went in the early Spring and still got hot and tired on the way back up. Please consider the season and temperature when planning your water and food needs. There are mule and helicopter options that you can learn more about on the official website. However, the experience and effort of the hike made this trip so special. Check out my five tips for preparing for a backpacking hike.

    hike down to Havasupai

    We started from the Havasupai trail head around 7 a.m. and made a few friends along the way.

  6. Timing for starting your hike is key. Start your hikes early; and especially in the Summer, consider starting before sunrise. You want to start early your way in to get your first pick of campsites and to make the most of your time at the falls. You can begin hiking from the trail head at anytime, but you need to wait until the tourist office in the village opens (8 or 9 a.m.) to check in. If you know your hiking pace, you can time this out perfectly as it is about eight miles downhill to the tourist office. You want to start early on the way back to beat the sun to the uphill portion at the end of the hike. We did not do this…
  7. So, be prepared to pack light and carry everything on your back (including your trash)! Click here to see my complete packing list!

    Looking onto Havasu Falls

    Taking one last look at Havasu Falls before the hike back up to the parking lot.

  8. There’s drinking water at the campsite. Leave the water filters and extra water at home. I filled up with everything I needed for the hike down (1.5 liters) and up (3 liters) and used the spring for the rest of my time there. Nice, cool and refreshing water!

    Havasupai Campground Drinking Water - Fresh Spring

    We filled up our water bottles and bladders with fresh spring water at the campground.

  9. Check out the ranger station. We grabbed one of the Home Depot buckets to store our food safely away from squirrels. There were a bunch of half-used fuel containers up for grabs, too. Previous campers left a couple at out campsite, so I ended up hiking in and out with the one I bought and got a $10 refund #cheapskate
  10. Havasu Falls isn’t all! Havasu Falls is conveniently near the campground and oh-so-gorgeous, but you’ll regret not exploring further! Mooney Falls is just past the campground, but a steep climb down the side of the cliff with the assistance of chains and ladders. It was a blast! From Mooney Falls, it’s another three miles to Beaver Falls (pictured below). Protip: try to get to Beaver Falls around noon while it’s in the sunshine! This hike was so fun and relaxing with a very refreshing treat of gorgeous falls and pools at the end! We hiked more than 30 miles in our three days in Havasupai. Read more about the hikes here!

    Beaver Falls at Havasupai

    We waited until some of the crowd cleared and posed for the tripod at Beaver Falls.

  11. Take some cash and try the fry bread! There are vendors selling fry bread at the entrance of the campsite. There are several ways to top your fry bread: taco, chili dog, Nutella, etc. It’s like a mix of funnel cake and pizza crust and so worth the $12 cash for a filling snack after a long hike! We had this a treat on the second day, but I’ve heard of other hikers making meals out of this and packing light on their own food.

    Fry bread at Havasupai campground

    Nutella and bean and cheese fry bread for a snack at the campground.

  12. Bring your camera, or borrow one! Around every corner is a gorgeous view. This gorgeous land has reignited my love for playing with photography. I experimented with long exposures and woke up at 3 a.m. for a starry night shot. For me, it was half the fun of this trip!

    Havasu Falls at 3 a.m.

    Havasu Falls and the night sky at 3 a.m.

  13. Don’t leave without taking a dip! I hear the water is a steady 70 degrees Fahrenheit year round. In late March, that was chilly, but refreshing. It’s not too bad when you’re in the sunshine and was great for helping my leg muscles recover after a long hike.

    Havasu Falls turqoise water

    Taking a dip in one of the many aqua colored pools under Havasu Falls


Check out the itinerary of my recent trip here.
 

What to pack? See my complete list for Havasupai! 

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Before and After: Coche Clasico in Havana

I want to do something new with the blog and share photo edit features. So here it goes! This is a view of American classic car taxis in front of the Gran Teatro (Grand Theater) in Havana, Cuba (check out my last post for more about Cuba!).

Edits: Used Adobe Photoshop Elements to brighten sky and shadows and removed some people in background

Camera: Fuji Film XT-2