havasupai: exploring beautiful waterfalls
I hope you are having a wonderful day! I am very excited to be able to share another portion of my Arizona adventure! The first post I released was about Antelope Canyon which was stunning. There is just so much to see and it is such a stinking beautiful state. With that being said, I hope you enjoy the beauty of the Havasupai waterfalls. We most certainly did!
The Night Before.
After camping in Page for a night, we packed up our things and drove to Peach Springs. I landed on Grand Canyon Caverns and Inn because they offered camping and had free showers (yay!). There was a hotel in the area but in the spirit of sleeping under the stars and saving money, I didn’t want to stay there! The campground was truly interesting to say the least. We were greeted by a giant dinosaur outside the check-in office.
The campground was a little weird but we had the entire place to ourselves! Quiet clear skies and nice hot showers!
The Hike into the Canyon.
The following morning was an early one. Since the trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop was about an hour and a half away, we got up at 3 AM to be able to hit the road by 4. We left on schedule, heading out on a spur road that was surrounded by farmland. It was a little scary driving in the dark because cows would appear eating right beside the road! Though it was pretty cool to see the landscape once the sun started to come up. I am such a fan of sunrises.
The trailhead was packed when we arrived! Cars were parked along the road for at least a quarter mile! Mitch dropped my Dad and I off with all the gear at the tiny roundabout at the end of the road and went to park the car. Sooooo many people were already there and it was not even 6 in the morning! Thankfully, there were two composting toilets that still had toilet paper (yay!). There was also a check in station where people could meet their guides. Other than people, there were also dogs and mules wandering around! Mitch found us at the trailhead about five minutes later and we began our descent. We started at a blistering pace to try to beat some of the other hikers down to the bottom to get away from the crowds. Some mules even decided to join us!
We maneuvered our way around the mules and continued down the first mile of switchbacks. The trail was so dusty from the high volume of people! The second mile was a more gradual descent to the dry riverbed. The gradual grade was pretty nice.
Hiking in the Riverbed.
The following six miles were flat and easy, just following along the canyon floor. The red rocks were beautiful and the hike was pretty peaceful regardless of how fast we were moving! As we got closer to the village, signs started to pop up to direct hikers. Arriving at the mouth of the canyon, we stopped to eat at a little shop. This was about eight miles into the hike and a break was needed! We had decided that we would try fry bread since so many people said it was awesome! We ordered some topped with nutella and bananas and while we waited, hung out with some local puppers.
The fry bread was a perfect snack after making it to the bottom of the canyon! It was like a dense elephant ear. We really cruised down to our first check point. After eating, we hiked to town to check-in and get our wristbands. (A little note: hiking to Havasupai is not a day hike and you will be charged out the wazoo if you hike down to the bottom of the canyon and ask for a permit. We saw this happen and they told the people to pay or hike out immediately. Therefore, apply for a permit right when the application period opens and maybe if you are lucky you will be able to snag one!)
The campground is actually two miles past the town, so that was honestly the hardest part of the hike for us. We were tired and it was starting to get very hot. As we hiked, we followed the beautiful blue river as it ran through town. Dogs ran up and down the trail next to us. They were pretty cool and looked like small border collies! Right before the campground, there is a large hill to trudge down, but it is quickly rewarding. We were so stoked to see Havasu Falls! The first of the stunning Havasupai waterfalls!!
Seeing Havasu Falls revived us a bit and we were able to wander through the campground to find our site. It is first come first serve and there are no designated spots, just picnic tables placed about. There are also composting toilets which is so nice!
Afternoon Hiking from Mooney Falls.
We picked our site and crashed. It was on a little island with the river running on both sides. The spot was pretty neat! My Dad and I both took naps while Mitch set up the tents. Since my Dad and I did not feel very good, it was a reminder to drink plenty of water! Thankfully, after resting, we both perked up. Around 2PM, we split up since Mitch and I wanted to see the other waterfalls. So we changed our clothes, shoes and left camp. We hiked to the end of the campground to find Mooney Falls which was just incredible!
To get down to the bottom of the falls, you have to climb through a rock tunnel (going down backwards makes this way easier!), hold onto chains bolted into the side of the rock face, and use ladders. Mind you, everything is wet and slippery from the mist. A funny aside about the rock tunnel: we happened to find it because a guy popped out and scared me. It was unintentional, but he just came out of no where!
Once Mitch and I made it down to the bottom, we looked at each other and said almost in unison, “well that was sketchy!”. Hiking down in sandals was probably not the best choice but it was perfect for wading through the river!
Mooney Falls was stunning and powerful. It was my most favorite waterfall! Standing in the presence of powerful nature produces awe like feelings. I am always amazed by waterfalls.
We took some neat pictures and just admired the scenery before heading on to Beaver Falls. It was about two miles away and we didn’t think it would take that long! There are many paths following the river and all of them essentially lead to Beaver.
The hike there was a lot of fun! We crossed the river many times and waded in areas that were probably 2-3 feet deep. The water was sadly not as warm as I envisioned it to be! After hiking for a while, we came across a palm tree keyhole and knew we were pretty close!
Right after the keyhole, there was a ladder going up the side of the canyon. We decided to not take it and cross the river again since we saw some people coming from that direction. We hit a deep part in the river. Mitch had to pick me up and set me on a boulder so I could get out to follow the path. After we both got out, the falls were so close! The trail popped us out at the top of the falls where someone had left climbing rope to help people traverse the rock face. We first had to scale across a narrow portion of rock before getting to the ropes that allowed us to climb down. We were totally alone at the base of the waterfall!
Relaxing near Beaver Falls.
Mitch and I hung out and sat on the rocks for a while trying to soak everything in. It was really peaceful. Being there in that moment was a wild thought. We had drove 60 miles on a spur road this morning, hiked into the canyon, and then continued to make it to Beaver Falls in one day. The thought of everything that we had accomplished was pretty amazing to me. And the fact that we were hiking so far off the beaten path with beautiful waterfalls made me so happy and appreciative to be able to do things like this. My soul was happy.
Heading Back to the Campsite.
It was starting to get late so we decided we should head back since it took us longer than expected to make it to Beaver Falls. We also did not want my Dad to worry! The river crossings were still fun on the way back!. The trail eventually opened up to a small meadow and the canyon at dusk was so beautiful!
It took us about an hour to make it back to camp, which ended up being about a 15 mile day. We were pretty tired! We made dinner and chatted about what we saw and showed my Dad some pictures. He had went to Havasu Falls and sat in his camping chair in the water! I was really happy that he was having a nice time.
I also took time to assess my feet since I had beat them up coming down the trail. With all of the sand falling into my trail runners, it created a lot of friction between my toes and I had multiple blisters. Wearing my Chacos to hike to Beaver didn’t help either and I now had blisters on the sides of my feet! I can deal with blisters (thankfully) since they were common when I was running a lot. When we were hiking in, I saw a lot of people hiking out wearing sandals and their shoes strapped to the back of their packs. Now I understood why. I decided to do the same thing on the hike out to try to save my toes a bit (check out my super sexy hiking socks and sandals at the end).
During dinner, the game plan for the following day was decided. The permit that we managed to get was for only one night so all of the exploring was jam packed into that time. To be out of the sun as much as possible, we decided to get up at 3 again to beat the sun getting into the canyon.
Hiking out of Havasupai.
We ended up heading out around 5 after having breakfast and packing up our stuff. As the sun started to rise, we saw that it was starting off as a cloudy and breezy day. This was perfect! I even managed to get a beautiful picture of Havasu Falls as the sun was coming up.
The hike out of the campground was a bit tough because it was hilly, but once we made it to the village it was smooth sailing. We took a brief break to take a couple pictures of Little Navajo Falls and continued on our way.
Back to the Riverbed.
Hiking in the riverbed was piece of cake. There was barely any elevation change and not a lot of people were out! Since we had less of a time crunch, it was nice to be able to look around and take a closer look at things. We were able to focus on being in the present instead of worrying about making it to a destination at a certain time. Naturally, we hiked in silence, just observing nature. The canyon walls were so cool and really towered over us! I also liked all of the overhangs and crevices. We all walked single file along a narrow path that had been formed by everyone before us. As we hiked farther and farther away from the village, there were less trees and bushes along the trail.
Almost Back to Hualapai Hilltop.
We hiked about eight miles before we took a break. This brought us to the final two mile climb out where we hiked back up the rolling hill and then the switchbacks. We stopped and snacked to fuel up a bit to make sure we would be ready for the challenge! We hoisted our packs back on and started on the final climb. We put our heads down and pretty much hiked until we were fatigued. Due to the time of day, a lot of mules were passing us on the way up and we had to move over to the inside of the trail. The breaks were appreciated! Hiking uphill with weight is tough! Though it is a bit scary to have mules passing you on a narrow path. Right before we made it to the top, there was a mule that was whinnying and it sounded as if he was complaining about the steep climb out. It helped all of us feel less bad about how beat we all felt hiking up the switchbacks!
Once we all made it to the top, we cheered! We had two very active and long days plus we accomplished everything that we had hoped for! It was awesome! Mitch left his pack with my Dad and I to walk back to the car. We waited and just admired the view. Not too long after, Mitch showed up with the car and we all piled in, thankful to be ditching our packs for a while. Our next destination was Flagstaff, where I planned to get a new pair of shoes. Here is a picture of my super cool high socks and sandals as promised. Well I hope you enjoyed reading about our Havasupai adventure! It was truly a beautiful place. If you have any questions, please leave a comment! Also, I have included some travel tips that could be helpful if you are planning a trip. Until next time!
Havasupai Travel Tips:
1. Since the trail is very sandy, trail runners are not the best shoes to wear. I love my trail runners but the sand just slips through the mesh and causes blisters to form. I would say that waterproof train runners (since the lining will keep the sand out) or hiking boots would be the best footwear.
2. Start very early! We got to the trail around 5:30AM and it was still super busy. If you want to spend more time in the shade once you hit the canyon floor and want to minimize the amount of other people you see on the trail, an early start is for you.
3. Drink lots of water! Once you start hiking and are off to a good pace, it is very easy to forget about drinking water. You also don’t feel dehydrated until it is often too late. So carrying enough water on the hike in and taking salt tabs (we like the brand SaltStick) along the way will help keep you in tip top shape!
4. If you don’t have a water filter, there is a spring in the campground where you can fill up your bladder or water bottle.
5. The campground is two miles past the village so the total mileage to the campground is ten! I would say the the final two miles to the campground after getting your wristbands and tent tag were the worst part of the hike in. Take a break in the village and grab some fry bread before heading down to your site. The trail is very sandy and gets incredibly hot as the day progresses. Be prepared!
6. Have a ratsack or a bag of the same variety to protect your food when you are away from your campsite. The squirrels are VERY dedicated to stealing your food. I watched one steal a few things from a girl’s backpack before I could chase it away. Keep your food in a ratsack and hang it in a tree!
Have any questions? Comment below or send me a message!