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Can Havasu Live Up To The Hype?

You've heard and seen so much about Havasu Falls, but can it really be as good as everyone says?

By: Eric Murdock + Save to a List

You bet your biscuits it can.

*Warning - This article contains lots of stoke

For the longest time backpacking into Havasu Falls had been number 1 on my backpacking bucket list. Because of the incredible talent of the photographers on social media, the idea of going there began to consume me, something of which I'm sure we're all guilty of. I know that with the right angle and filter, everything can be made to look much better than it really is. But damn it if every picture I came across didn't continue to elevate Havasu into one of the most incredible places on earth. Because of this, I expected to walk into Havasu and see it as I had been from these photographers lenses. This is a very dangerous expectation. 

Similar to how they say you never want to meet your heroes, I was nervous about these dangerously high expectations as well as finally making this dream become a reality. Nevertheless, Havasu did not disappoint. 

Now I don't want to discredit the 12 mile trek into Havasu Falls, because that is extraordinary in it's own right. You descend the Southwestern rim of the Grand Canyon and traverse through miles of sheer cliff walls and boulders of red rock that are littered along the way. But once you are through, well that is when the excitement, or should I say stoke, really begins.

The first view inside the canyon after descending down the rim


For me it all starts when you round a slight bend about 11 miles in, and catch that first glimpse of the turquoise blue waters that cascade down towards Navajo Falls, which create those beautiful standing pools that you always see photographed. And from that point on you are riding a tidal wave of stoke throughout the rest of your time in Havasu. 

The cascade pools above Navajo Falls


As you continue further in, its like getting hit in the face with one fist full of stoke after another. After Navajo Falls, its a big left hook at Havasu Falls, and then a few right hooks as you walk through the ridiculous campgrounds that are available, and then it's a roundhouse to the face as you descend down the 'chains' to Mooney Falls. If you're not already out for the count by then, up next is the vast jungle oasis that begs to be explored for miles, traversing sections of river and rock with American Ninja Warrior like obstacles, until you finally hit Beaver Falls. Of course all of this could never be accomplished in one day, so these discoveries will immerse you in at least 2-3 days of non stop stoke.  

Mooney Falls - You can make out our green tent on top

Ninja Warrior river crossing

Ninja Warrior climbing


Now you actually manage to see and appreciate all of these areas, that's impressive, but what's that you say? There's a hidden 50 foot cliff jump that shoots you down into an epic swimming hole at the base of an equally as epic waterfall. Count me in. *Disclaimer - not for the faint of heart

Hidden cliff jump off the beaten path


Alright I've officially gone overboard on stoke. I've eaten a buffet of stoke and I could now go into a stoke coma. No more stoke for me please. But now you are telling me that there's a hidden cave behind a waterfall? Of course, count me in. But shhh, keep it a secret because not everyone knows where it is (I wont disclose where or how to get there, that ruins the thrill of the discovery). 

Secret cave - Location N/A


Alright I've officially seen everything there is that Havasu could possibly have to offer. But wait there's more? You bet there is. Another 50 foot cliff jump into another incredible swimming hole, except this time there's a protruding cliff face to clear and a sketchy rope climb back up to boot. Ugh fine. *Disclaimer - also not for the faint of heart

Cliff jump just down river from Beaver Falls


Ok no more, I just want to sit back and relax and enjoy my time here. Right on, it's a good thing you were lucky enough to score one of the sickest camps ever, sitting less than a stone's throw from the top of Mooney Falls, providing an unforgettable view that towers over the expansive oasis that extends into the canyon. It's also a good thing you brought your hammock to hang from one of the hundreds of perfectly placed trees along the riverbank. 

Camp atop Mooney Falls

I hope you happen to be a photographer as well, because there's another side to Havasu that is remarkable to capture--nighttime. A clear and calm night in Havasu is something special, and it gives way to unbelievable opportunities for night photography. Even if you are an amateur like me, it's hard to not get some of the best shots you've ever taken. 

During all of this you will undoubtedly meet several others that, just like you, are riding that same wave of stoke. So even if you are adventuring solo, you won't be for very long. This leads to some lasting friendships with some really rad people, and what better of a friendaversary than an annual meetup at Havasu.


So trust in me when I say that Havasu is more than worth it. I am already planning this years trip there, and so should you. 

Stay tuned for my "Havasu How To" for details on everything you need to know for planning your first trip there and how to make the most of your adventure.  

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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