Is Havasupai worth visiting? If you’re not convinced yet, you will be once you wrap this article up!
Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty? Look no further than visiting Havasupai, a hidden gem nestled within the depths of the Grand Canyon. This remote Indigenous village is home to the awe-inspiring Havasu Falls and its crystal-clear turquoise waters, drawing outdoor enthusiasts worldwide.
Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply seeking a unique natural experience, visiting and hiking to Havasupai promises an extraordinary journey filled with stunning landscapes, cultural immersion, and memories that will last a lifetime.
Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Beautiful Havasupai in the Grand Canyon
Is Havasupai Worth Visiting?
Yes, Havasupai is so worth visiting. It’s one of the most magical places in America and on planet Earth. Tucked away from the modern world, Havasupai is a tiny little oasis paradise in the Grand Canyon that allows visitors to see nature at its finest.
It’s hardly a hidden gem anymore, but if you’re wondering, “Is Havasupai worth visiting,” it is, no matter the cost. You’ll connect with nature at a deeper level, see mindboggling sights, and never want to leave.
What does Havasupai Cost?
For three nights, four days, it costs $395 per person. This is up from when I went in 2018 by probably $75 or so. Considering this place’s remoteness and relative exclusivity, I think it’s worth the cost. Yes, there is a barrier to entry, but there always is when it comes to travel.
When is the best time to visit Havasupai?
The best time to go to Havasupai is spring or fall when the temperatures are off their extremes, but the lows are not too cold. These photos are from a mid-April visit, and it was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better time visiting Havasupai.
“Winter” will likely be less crowded, but it shouldn’t be that cold down there unless you catch it on a cold streak. Plus, the water temperature doesn’t fluctuate, so it’ll still be nice!
When’s the not-so-great time?
I would argue the worst time to visit Havasupai is smack dab in the middle of summer. While it’s not as bad as Phoenix, you’re still around 2,500 feet (similar to Tucson weather). This means summer highs can be in the upper 90s or worse.
I personally am not sure if I’d enjoy it as much with that heat.
Remember to Leave No Trace
When you visit Havasupai, you agree to Pack Out what you Pack In. This means you’re responsible for your trash. Bring some trash bags, and leave the campground and waterfalls as spotless as you found them!
A Checklist for Planning Your Trip to Havasupai
1: Get your permits
Due to the recent craziness from 2020-2023, the permits for Havasupai have been a bit wacky. There were doubled reservations, dates pushed back, or entirely rescheduled.
In the future, in 2024, I believe things will ease up a bit. In normal times, reservations go on sale at the beginning of February each year.
What if I didn’t get permits? Can I still go?
If you didn’t land permits, don’t give up hope. Log in and go to the campground cancellations/transfer tab. People always look to transfer their tickets if they cannot go. At least 15 groups are looking to have their reservations taken.
2: Arrange Travel
Once you’ve landed your permits, book your flights, rental car, and any other travel expenses you need. Doing this far enough out will help decrease your costs, as last-minute flights are costly.
I’m flying in. Where should I book my flights to land for backpacking Havasupai?
The best two options are Las Vegas and Phoenix. Both should be similarly priced for your trip. However, the drive time from Las Vegas will be slightly less.
Phoenix to Havasupai Trailhead: 4.25 hours
Las Vegas to Havasupai Trailhead: 3.75 hours
What are some decent, reasonably priced hotels near Havasupai Hilltop
You can stay in a few places, depending on where you’re coming from. You can book a hotel in Flagstaff or Williams if driving from Phoenix. However, the two closest lodging spots are the Grand Canyon Caverns and Hualapai Lodge.
If you’re coming from Vegas, Kingman will have places to stay if you want only to drive half the distance.
3: Get your Backpacking Gear for visiting Havasupai
If you’ve never backpacked before (okay, because this was sort of me, too), it’s time to load up on all your backpacking gear. I linked everything you will need below in the gear section.
What does the Day of Check-in Process for Visiting Havasupai Look Like?
To check-in, the group leader must go to Grand Canyon Caverns Inn. You can do it up to one day before your arrival date.
The check-in office is located around the back of the Inn lobby when you walk through the main doors or you can access it by entering from the back of the building. There will be signs. The check-in office is open every day from 6 am – 7 pm.
The trip leader will need to provide photo ID to receive all permits, wristbands, bag tags, and an entrance form, which will need to be completed and shown to the Havasupai Reservation boundary checkpoint staff and/or the Tourist Office employee stationed at Hilltop.
You can start the hike on any day of your reservation and you must depart on or before the last day of your reservation. There is no refund for unused days. The trail will be open for hiking 24 hours a day. Please use caution as assistance may not be readily available during non-business hours.
All members of the group will be asked to show all required paperwork (see above) at the Havasupai Reservation boundary checkpoint, approximately 5 miles from Hilltop (the trailhead). There will be no congregating at the checkpoint so please make sure all members of your group have the required paperwork. Please follow directions and signs at the checkpoint.
If you will be parking a vehicle at Hilltop, you will need to indicate the license plate number of each vehicle on your check-in information. Please note that the Tribe is not responsible for vehicles parked at Hilltop.
Is Havasupai worth visiting: Tips for Backpacking Havasupai
Below we’ll cover what you need to know about backpacking to Havasupai.
How many days do you need at Havasupai?
You now get four days at Havasupai, and I would spend every second there that you can. This is how I would structure your trip for visiting Havasupai.
Visiting Havasupai: Mock Itinerary
Day 1: Start relatively early to maximize your time in Havasupai. Expect a 4-5 hour hike in. Then, find campgrounds—nap in a hammock. Explore the waterfalls nearby.
- Havasu Falls
- Navajo Falls
- Fifty-Foot falls
(Flip these days if you want.)
Day 2: Hike down to Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls, and if you’re feeling adventurous, go to the confluence. (18-20 miles round trip.) Getting to Beaver Falls should take a couple of hours, considering you’ll be moving slowly, taking in the sights. The Confluence will be a LONG day, so start early.
Day 3: Have a nice calm day hanging out at the close waterfalls, exploring the village, or seeing something new.
Day 4: Wake up (if summer, an early start is highly recommended), eat breakfast, and hike out. Most people should expect a 5-6 hour hike out.
Is Havasupai Worth Visiting? – What Gear Do I need to bring to visit Havasupai?
This is a glorified backpacking trip, but you must bring everything you would for a backpacking adventure.
Is there drinking water, or do I need to filter?
I brought a filter, but we found a small spigot with fresh drinking water near the front of the campground. We had no health/digestive issues drinking this for our trip. To limit our back and forths, I brought a 10L collapsible jug to fill up with.
What to expect when hiking to Havasupai
Hiking into Havasupai is an enriching experience. The Canyon is beautiful, and once you arrive at the waterfalls, it goes up to an entirely new level. It’s a treasured experience to spend time in this area, and I hope you all enjoy it as well!
Is visiting Havasupai difficult to hike?
Backpacking Havasupai is about 10-12 miles from the trailhead to the campground – depending on where you sleep. Besides the first/last two miles, it’s generally flat and pretty easy. The double-digit distance is the most significant factor, so ensure you’ve worked on your endurance beforehand.
Overall, I would say that the Havasupai hike is moderately strenuous.
How long does it take to do the Havasupai trail?
It should take 4-5 hours to hike down into the Canyon and add another hour on the way up. If you’re in really good shape, you could get there in 3.5 hours if you limit breaks on the way in. For only a few hours on the trail, Havasupai is more than worth it to visit.
What do I need to do to train to backpack Havasupai?
Prioritize hiking 6-10 miles multiple times a week with elevation gains of 1,200 to 3,000 feet. If you can do this, you’ll be fine. Make sure you have some weight in your bags to simulate what you’ll face while backpacking Havasupai.
Havasupai Photography Tips: How and where to land bucket list photos
What camera gear to bring when visiting Havasupai
Below are general suggestions of what you should bring and what I brought along for my trip. While you don’t want your pack to be overly heavy, you still need to bring enough that you won’t run out of batteries and won’t be able to return and get something you need.
If you’re trying to keep weight down, this camera-lens combo is what I’d recommend.
- Full Frame body (Canon r5)
- Wide Angle Lens (something around 16-20mm)
- Versatile Lens (24-70/24-105)
- Sturdy Tripod that can go in the water
- GoPro for underwater shots
- ND Filter for long exposures during the day
- Dry bag for gear
Where to land the best photos when visiting Havasupai
This is the first big-time waterfall you’ll see after leaving the village and heading to the campground. You’ll get some fantastic shots on the trail and below in front of the waterfall. Make sure to bring a lens cloth in case of spray.
Possibly the most beautiful of the waterfalls in Havasupai.
When visiting Havasupai and Mooney Falls, take photos from above, but keep the camera out as you head through the tunnel. This view is surreal and an excellent framing opportunity. Then, after you descend the ladders, go crazy shooting Mooney Falls.
Another supremely gorgeous waterfall in Havasupai. This one is smaller, but the water is perfect. Make sure you have the ND filter for a nice long exposure.
Canyon Area between Mooney and Beaver
This canyon area gets overlooked, but the conflicting red rock canyon walls and green bushes are captivating. Plus, the trail cutting through it all provides excellent leading lines.
If you make it all the way, props to you. This has the turquoise Havasupai Creek water meeting the brown Colorado River. A tiny percentage of people visiting Havasupai make it this far. You’ll want a dry bag for sure to do this.
Canyon between Village and Havasu Falls
Don’t blow past this area. It’s pretty and will have some cacti you can put in the foreground.
FAQ: Is Havasupai Worth Visiting
Should I use mules or the helicopter?
I would not recommend taking the mules or the helicopter when visiting Havasupai. It takes away from the totality of the experience. If you’re able to make it on your own, do it. You’ll feel so much better about it all.
Why is Havasupai so expensive?
Havasupai is expensive because of market economics. Simple supply and demand. If people will pay the price (and they do), they will continue to increase it until demand levels out. When people ask, “Is Havasupai worth visiting,” they are likely asking whether the cost equals the benefits.
I still think it does.
How scary are the ladders?
I wouldn’t say they are too scary, but they can be wet/slick, and caution is key. The most annoying part is probably waiting for people to be done so you can go. Being there early or late will help decrease the traffic you’ll face.
Is there a Native American tribe still living at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
Yes, there are. The Supai tribe still calls this area home, and it is one of the most important reasons to be respectful when visiting Havasupai. They allow us non-natives to be on their land, and the least we can do is treat it like they do.
What you need to know about Havasupai
Can you camp at the Havasupai Trailhead?
No. Camping is now prohibited at the Hilltop Trailhead.
Is there a store down there to buy food or supplies?
Yes, there is a store down in the Supai Village. It’s not Target, but it should have some basics. The cafe hours are 8 am to 5 pm, and serves basics such as hamburgers, french fries, and tacos. As for the store, it’s open from 7 am to 5: 30 pm and has basic goods such as water, soda, Gatorade, ice cream, fruit, and canned goods.
Can I fly drones at Havasupai?
No, drones are prohibited when visiting Havasupai. So leave the extra weight at home.
Can I drink/bring alcohol when visiting Havasupai?
Possession or distribution of alcohol on the reservation is a federal and tribal crime. Please do not bring alcohol when visiting Havasupai.
A quick history of the tribe and area
The Havasupai people are a Native American tribe who have lived in the Grand Canyon for over 1,000 years and are the only tribe that lives below the rim of the Grand Canyon.
The tribe’s ancestors first came to the Grand Canyon from the north many centuries ago. They were drawn to the fertile land and the abundance of water. The Supai tribe lived in the Canyon and the plateau above the Canyon. In the summer, they lived in the Canyon to farm corn, beans, squash, and melons. They moved to the plateau in the winter to hunt and gather food.
In the 1880s, the United States government forced them to move to a much smaller reservation than their traditional territory. This was a difficult time for the tribe. They lost land, a way of life, and freedom.
Since then, they have persevered.
1975 Congress returned 185,000 acres of canyon and rim territory to the tribe. This significant victory allowed them to reconnect with their traditional homeland.
Wrapping up – Is Havasupai Worth Visiting
“Is Havasupai worth visiting?” I’m pretty sure you can see that it is, and it will create a lifetime of memories for you and your group. There are few places like this in the world, and visiting Havasupai is worth every penny!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.