Backpacking to Havasu Falls and the Colorado

Arizona Hualapai Hilltop Trailhead

Added by Bernice Ngo

  • Explore Grand Canyon’s Blue Paradise
  • Waterfalls (so many you’ll lose count)
  • Pack light and start early to beat the sun, the climb out is tougher
  • Duration: 20-36 miles over 2-3 days

Havasupai stands for the “people of the blue-green water.” Once you get there, you’ll understand why. The Indian reservation is an isolated area just outside Grand Canyon National Park. Since it’s an Indian reserve, permits are required to enter the area. If you plan to go in the summer, book permits up to three months in advance to be guaranteed a spot, the area gets crowded during holidays.

The trail to Supai (The Village) starts at Hualapai Hilltop. Hualapai Hilltop to Supai is a 8-mile downhill hike. The Village is where you will pick up your permits and maps. From the Supai Village it’s another 2 miles to the campgrounds. The campgrounds are first-come-first-serve so if you want a nice spot next to the creek, then head out early. You’ll want to beat the brutal sun anyways so wake up before sunrise and don’t forget a headlamp. Hiking in the dark can also be a great experience for you to enjoy nature in a different way. The stars are incredible!

After 10 miles you might just want to spend the remainder of your trip chilling next to Havasu Falls. However, if you still have the energy spend the next day doing a day hike to the Colorado River, it’s well worth it! The hike to the Colorado River from the campgrounds is another 16 miles round-trip. Again, start early to beat the sun and crowds. Along the way you’ll come across Money and Beaver Falls as well as many others. In contrast to the hike to Havasu Falls, the trail to the Colorado River is more rustic and less crowded. There’s some scrambling and many creek crossing along the way so water shoes with a good grip are recommended. Remember to bring enough food and a headlamp, it might take you the entire day. It’s a long hike but the view of the roaring Colorado River is worthwhile!

Helpful links for this adventure: Havasupai Tribe, National Park Service

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Tent or Hammock
  • Water shoes
  • Food
  • Sun protection
  • Water/ Water filter
  • Headlamp
  • Camera
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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Rating:

Features:

River
Scenic
Waterfall

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How to Get There

12 days ago

Long desert hike with a stunning reward

Overall the hike in and out isn't too rough, just boring until you get closer to Supai. I hiked it in the fall and the temps were reasonable in the 70s and low 80s, not so sure I would enjoy it in the summer. The campground can get pretty packed depending when you go so be prepared to share the amazing views with a few hundred other people.

12 days ago

about 1 month ago

A Desert Oasis

Did this hike a couple years back with my family, and completely loved it. Sleeping right next to the river, and spending the hot days in the clear water made the very hot hike out at the end worth it.

about 1 month ago

2 months ago

If There's An Opening -- Nab It!

One of my favorite backpacking trips to date! The hike can be difficult and hot but it's totally worth it once you arrive at the campsite. The amenities are great -- clean compost toilets, potable water source, and even a cafe and fry bread stand of you're too tired to cook every meal. The only issue now is trying to get back here again -- nearly impossible to get a cancellation / walk in permit -- you must book many months in advance!

2 months ago

3 months ago

Hidden gem.

If you're wanting to revisit Havasupai but don't have time on your calendar, pick up Edward Abby's "Desert Solitaire" and flip to his chapter on Havasu. It's an excellent read, and a great way to revisit this awesome patch of earth.

3 months ago

4 months ago

I want to go back!

If you're tired there's always the helicopter. ;)

4 months ago

6 months ago

Great Hike

Im glad i got to experience this. It was all worth it. I do recommend staying atlas 2 days. I was only able to get one night. The water is amazing and clear.

6 months ago

6 months ago

Missing GoPro

I left a GoPro there on June 19th at hilltop trailhead. Please contact me if you find it! Also- Awesome hike! Well worth it. Definitely recommend having a mule pack your gear, at least on the way out. Also the store has a lot of food in the village if you don't want to pack it al in, and the burger place makes excellent burgers!

6 months ago

6 months ago

Great Hike

I really enjoyed hiking to the falls. Was well worth it.

6 months ago

6 months ago

Kids Loved It, It's A Must!

7 and 10 year olds with 10# packs got down in 4.5 hours and back out in 6 flat. This trip will leave lasting memories for my family, there is nothing like the water down in Supai. Rope swings at Mooney falls was a big hit too.

6 months ago

7 months ago

Tough Hike Worth It

We hiked the whole way in with our packs which was pretty tough. You could have your stuff brought in on a mule or just helicopter to the village but we wanted to accomplish the hike ourselves. It made every bit of the falls even more amazing. Blue water, amazing falls, and beautiful views. This is definitely a must do on your bucket list.

7 months ago

8 months ago

Still Recovering!

I just did this trip for a second time last week. The initial decent is fairly easy, and the longest part of the hike is flat. But if you backpack in, the last two miles of your hike back to the top are killer. One of the most rewarding things I have ever done. The landscape has changed a lot in the past few years, there are more falls and swimming areas than there used to be (due to flooding). The climb down to Mooney falls is exhilarating and so worth your effort!!

8 months ago

8 months ago

It's Worth the Hike

Get ready to park your car and head out on foot, there are no roads to the falls. It's a decent hike but there's a treasure at the end. The turquoise water and the red rock formations are so incredible. You do not want to miss an opportunity to see Havasu Falls, it's a memory that will last a lifetime.

8 months ago

11 months ago

Bucket List Worthy!

This is a great hike, worthy of your bucket list. It's also fairly easy to attain. Hiking down is most definitely the best way to experience everything this adventure has to offer, but taking the 5 minute helicopter ride is ok too. There really isn't any combination of words that exist that can describe just how special this place is. It's unlike any other place in Arizona and very few places in the world can compare to the beauty that resides here. Havasupai is gaining more and more popularity, so I highly recommend planning your trip during the week, finding a free weekend to explore this area will be difficult and if you are able to get a permit, you will be with hundreds of other people. It's a completely different experience when you're sitting in the blue pools of water by yourself, hypnotized by the power of the waterfalls.

11 months ago

about 1 year ago

Best trip ever.

This place has it all! Open majestic desert, amazing scenery and powerful, awe-inspiring waterfalls (the Supai village is quite fun as well), and some of the best cliff jumping! I would strongly recommend the day hike, although I've personally only gone as far as Beaver Falls. Of all the backpacking adventures I've been on, this tops the list as the funnest!

about 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

The most unexpected and breathtaking places I have ever been to. A true piece of paradise right in Arizona. Camping permits are tough to get so try to plan in advanced. About a mile and a half of switchbacks down then relatively flat the remaining 7 miles or so to the campgrounds - you pass through Havasupai Village where a tribe remains today. Spend some time at Navajo Falls and Havasu Falls, but make the journey down to Mooney Falls because it is truly unbeatable.

over 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

Hiking down to Mooney was breathtaking...partly because of the climb down the rickety, rusty ladder that twists and turns through caves and clings to the side of the canyon wall, but mostly because of it's sheer presence and magnitude. The waterfalls demands to be seen. It's both threatening and awe-inspiring. Continuing on down the canyon and you enter a world of lush green vegetation framing a calmer river of emerald and turquoise. It is a must see

over 1 year ago

over 2 years ago

It's a boring hike in but the reward is stunning.

over 2 years ago

over 2 years ago

Damn that sounds fun...

over 2 years ago

Added by Bernice Ngo

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