Havasu Falls is a remarkable waterfall in the Havasupai Indian Reservation in Arizona USA, within the Grand Canyon National Park. Vibrant blue water, contrasted with striking red rocks provides the canyon with an aura of ethereal beauty. A wide sandy beach and a plethora of shady cottonwood trees create the perfect spot for relaxation. The Havasupai tribe, who look after the reservation, have an intimate connection with both the water and land. The water is said to flow not only over the land, but through every member of the tribe.
History of Havasu Falls
The Havasu Falls have been in a constant state of change for the past hundred or so years. Rewind 100 years and the falls were totally unrecognisable. Water tumbled down the cliff in a 200ft (61m) curtain, rather than the single spout we are familiar with today. The most recent change came with the 2008 flood, where part of the current veil detached, resulting in the water now flowing out of only one side of the notch.
Interesting facts about Havasu Falls
‘Havasupai’ means people of the blue-green waters.
The stunning turquoise blue water at Havasu Falls is a result of dissolved calcium carbonate and magnesium that naturally occurs in Havasu Creek.
It’s possible to swim behind Havasu Falls, where you can enter a small rock shelter.
Havasu Falls was originally known as Bridal Veil Falls, before a flash flood roared through the canyon, changing the Falls appearance forever.
How to get to Havasu Falls
There are a number of ways to get to Havasu Falls. For active bodies, hiking is an option. The path to Supai starts at Hualapai Hilltop (the Havasupai trailhead), and leads you 10 miles down a trail that can be considered moderate in difficulty. Note that there are no services at Hualapai Hilltop – in fact, the nearest services are 106km (66mi) away in Peach Springs. Getting to the trailhead itself is something of a challenge. It takes an hour and a half to drive to the trailhead from Peach Springs and 3 hours from Flagstaff.
A popular alternative to hiking is to take a guided horseback ride into the canyon from Hualapai Hilltop. This is clearly a more expensive option in comparison to hiking, but it takes far less effort and can allow you to truly experience the canyon like a native. Finally, for the extravagant among us, Supai is serviced by Airwest Helicopters of Arizona. Once in Supai, it’s only a short, easy hike to the falls.
Visiting Havasupai Falls & Permits
In 2018 the rules and pricing changed. You can no longer buy a permit for a single days access. You have to have accommodation reserved in either the official Havasupai campsite or the lodge. The accommodation fees include all the necessary permits and taxes. There are three ways to see the falls; you can hike or visit the falls by helicopter or horse.
The Havasupai Campground & Havasupai Lodge
Havasupai Campground is next the base of the falls. If you want to stay in the Havasupai campground you will need to book well in advance. Reservations can be made on the tribes official website – havasupaireservations.com. You can book a minimum of 2 ($141) and a maximum of 4 nights ($202). These prices include all necessary permits, fees, and taxes. The camp ground is usually closed in December and January.
The Havasupai Lodge is 2 miles from the falls. You can only book over the phone; (928) 448-2111 or (928) 448-2201.
You should be aware that facilities at both the lodge and campsite are basic. There is water at the campsite but you need to take all your equipment and food with you. There are no catering facilities at the lodge but food can be bought in the local village.
Top safety tips
Stay hydrated. There’s no drinking water along the trail, so be sure to bring plenty of water. A minimum of 2 litres is advisable.
Do not wear headphones. You definitely don’t want to be ignorant to the possibility of a mule pack train coming up on your rear.
Avoid hiking in the middle of the day. The midday heat during summer can become unbearable – you do not want to be caught hiking in temperatures topping 100 degrees.
Where to stay near Havasu Falls
If you’re looking to extend your stay in the area surrounding Havasu Falls Creek, there are few options available to you. The nearest town is Peach Springs (1.5 hours drive from the trailhead) which is the nearest place for fuel, food and equipment. There are limited accommodation options in Peach Springs, Seligman and Kingman. More more options are available in the towns that serve Grand Canyon Village such as Williams and Flagstaff.
Guided Tours of Havasu Falls
If you enjoy guided tours, there are a number of companies offering trips to Havasu Falls. We recommend Wildland Trekking, who are highly rated on TripAdvisor, and take care of everything from meals to pack mules that will transport all of your gear in and out of the Canyon. Tours are often a good idea for those who are interested in learning more about the history of the region.
Best time to visit Havasu Falls
The best time to visit Havasu Falls depends on your priorities. If you want to swim in the stunning turquoise waters of Havasu Falls, then you should visit during either May/June or September/October, when the water is at a pleasant temperature. If you are looking to hike, then conditions are best in the earlier spring and later fall, though the water at this time of year will be cold enough to send a shiver down your spine. Finally, in the midst of summer, the hot temperature will heat the water to provide fantastic bathing opportunities but also results in hiking conditions that are far from ideal.