Havasupai Adventure: Backpacking Guide
Havasupai is a truly magical place. The turquoise water. The rich red canyon. The majestic waterfalls. A place so perfect I never thought something like that existed. There's no doubt why more and more people want to visit this oasis every year.
Now that it’s gaining popularity worldwide, trying to visit it can be a bit challenging. It’s not your ordinary hike. Day hikes are NOT ALLOWED. Not only because it is physically demanding to get there and back but also you need at least a couple of days to fully experience what it has to offer. You will need to plan months in advance. I am writing this blog to serve as a guide if you ever want to see its grandeur. Here are the things to help you prepare for your Havasupai Experience.
1. Reserve your campsite
I read and heard stories that this part of the planning can be tough. Although when I booked mine two years ago I got through after a couple of tries and booking went smoothly. Back then they only accept booking through the phone. This year they started to accept booking online as well. Here is the link to the site. It will give you all the information you need to book the campsite – rates, limits, etc. Make sure you book it right away. Earliest you can book is February 1 every year. Now that they have a reservation system online it will fill up a lot faster. Also, when you decide to call make sure you know the dates when you want to visit and have backup dates just in case the original dates are not available. You can phone them at 928.448.2141, 928.448.2180, 928.448.2237, 928.448.2121.
If you don’t want to camp, you can stay at the Havasupai Lodge. All the information about the lodge can be found here. But where’s the fun in that?
When to go?
Peak season is May-July. It can get very hot. My boyfriend and I were there the first week of May. We also booked 4 days, 3 nights during the middle of the week. It was busy but we started our days early and lucky enough we were the first ones to reach the waterfalls. July – August is monsoon season. So, there’s a risk of flooding and when it does they close the canyon. If you want to avoid the crowds, Spring (March-May) or Fall (August – September) is the perfect time to visit. Water will be colder, but the grounds will be quieter.
2. What to bring
Hiking shoes and good socks– You will be hiking for at least 4 hours one way. I don’t think you want blisters on your feet. If you don’t have hiking shoes I recommend you get some. It’s a good investment.
Water bladders– I brought a 2L water bladder. It was perfect. There will be no water source during the hike to the campsite. Gotta stay hydrated! In the campsite, there’s a natural spring where you can fill your water bladders.
Water Shoes– We got ourselves the 10$ ones from Walmart. It is for when you go to the water, also we used it hiking from the campground to the waterfalls.
Hammock– The campground is hammock heaven.
Lotion– This is what I forgot to bring. The water is full of minerals and it can get your skin really dry after swimming. You will need a lotion. You’re welcome!
Headlamp and Flashlight– Necessity! You will need it if you start your hike early in the morning. You will also need it to use the bathroom at nighttime or just walk around and look for a spot for star gazing.
Toiletries and Sanitation Products– Do not forget to bring hand sanitizer. Very important.
Tent– Lightweight if possible.
Sleeping Bags– It can get chilly at night.
Backpacks– Mine was 65L from MEC and it was perfect. My boyfriend brought a smaller backpack for our day trips.
First Aid Kit and Tylenol-Thankfully, we didn’t get to use ours. But those are things that are nice to have.
Camping Stove– We brought a small, light, and compact camping stove. We got it from MEC for 23$.
It did its job.
Cookware– You can get sets from Walmart or some outdoor gear store like MEC. We used it mainly for boiling water for our dehydrated foods and have something to mix and water and food together.
Coffee– Because coffee!
Food– We brought a few dehydrated meals, granola bars, trail mix, instant noodles, etc. because we need food to survive.
3. How to get to Hualapai Hilltop
The hike will start from Hualapai Hilltop. If you’re not from the country like we were, you’re going to have to fly to the closest airport and drive to the hilltop. Our options were from Las Vegas (4 hours) or Phoenix (5 hours). Obviously, we picked Vegas because it’s a shorter drive and we can have some Vegas time after! You can just type Hualapai Hilltop on your Google Maps and it will take you there.
Most people will drive there the day before the hike and spend the night at their vehicle. This way you can have some rest before your hike. My boyfriend and I started our hike nice and early to avoid the scorching heat of the sun and to find ourselves a nice campsite. We found a very nice one by the water.
4. From Hualapai to your Campsite
The hike from Hualapai Hilltop to the campgrounds is 10 miles in total. You will reach the Supai Village 8 miles in where you need to check in with the tourism office. From there you will hike another 2 miles to reach the campgrounds. How much time the hike will take will depend on your pace. We spent 4 hours hiking to our campsite with few quick rest breaks and snack breaks. The hike going in the canyon is easy. Hiking out is a different story.
Note: You have the option to have your bags carried by the mules. You need to make a reservation a week in advance. You can also ride the helicopter to go in and out of the canyon. The helicopter is scheduled and it’s a first come first served basis. We opted out of the mules and helicopters. We liked the challenge.
Your reward… earth’s natural beauty.
Tip: Start your hike to the waterfalls early to avoid the crowd.
There you are. I hope this helps. Thank you for reading! Enjoy your journey to beautiful Havasupai. Don’t forget to give our nature the respect it deserves.
Peace and Love,