Havasupai might be America‘s best-kept secret. Well, the secret is probably out but fortunately, it is still somewhat hard to get there. You have to get permits as soon as they open up online and they restrict the number of people who can go there on any given year. Havasupai is mostly known for the namesake falls with its lusciously turquoise waters. It is situated on a Native American reservation accessible only by a hiking path or a helicopter. The locals protect is fiercely and with good reason. This breathtaking place is worthy of defensive preservation.
We got there from Vegas after a four-hour drive and an overnight rest stop at a vintage Route 66 style motel called Grand Canyon Caverns.
If you haven’t been there yet, here are three reasons to put Havasupai falls on your bucket list immediately!
You can witness waterfalls like you’ve never seen before
Of course, the main reason to go is the stunning waterfalls – not one, not two, but three and counting. The star of the show is Havasupai Falls named after the Native American tribe whose land we were visiting. Havasupai means the people of the blue-green water. As descriptive as names come.
The first time we laid eyes on Havasupai Falls in person after a 10 mile hike through brick red canyons, my friend said, “Wow, that looks like it has a pre-built Instagram filter on it. It wasn’t the most poetic description but certainly a simple and apt one. The delicate turquoise blue pool glimmers beneath the force of the falls spilling out from brick red rocks.
Then there is Mooney Falls which looms tall after an adventurous descent down the side of a canyon using ropes, chains, and some slippery makeshift steps. I am an early bird and like starting my day early. When we got to Mooney in the morning, it was quite empty and we had some fun taking shots. By later that afternoon, it was packed and there was actually a line to get back up the same cliffside we slid down.
And just when you think it can’t get any better, three miles from Mooney, you will witness the majesty of Beaver Falls; its shallow limestone pools embracing the beauty of the water for us all to behold.
You can hike in all kinds of terrain
I enjoy a good hike on any given day; it kind of speaks to my enjoying the journey ethos. In Havasupai, the journey is as beautiful as the destination. It starts with the 10-mile hike from the mouth of the canyon to the falls. It is an easy hike made just slightly harder with having to carry a backpack. Because it is such an easy hike, you can really enjoy the journey building up to the suspense of finally getting to Havasupai village at mile 8 and then the falls at Mile 10.
The hike back is more challenging, but only the beginning couple of miles to the village and the end. Three-quarters of the hike is relatively flat. It’s steep in the very beginning getting out of the campsite to the village and then again when you get to the switchbacks before you get back to the top but I was able to do it with my backpack. The key is to start earlier in the day to limit the amount of time you are hiking uphill in the sweltering sun and to take it slow and steady. We made the trip back in 3 hours with our backpacks so it is certainly doable. While you have other options out of the canyon, I found the hike back to be a fun challenge. And preferable to having a poor mule be burdened with my baggage. Just saying…why not get a workout while you are at it?!
OK but my favorite hike of all was the hike from Mooney to Beaver Falls. It might actually be one of my favorite hikes ever. You walk through lush vegetation, hike between canyon walls, wade in turquoise blue waters, climb ladders, step gingerly on slippery rocks. Really, this hike has it all.
You get to spend a couple of nights in a truly magical place
Take my word for it; you will want to spend more than one night there. Get there early on the first day so you can find a nice spot to camp. We found one right by a flowing stream which made our time at the campsite even more spectacular.
And then there are the nights glimmering with stars bookended by the canyon walls. If this isn’t utopia, I don’t know what is!!
More tips, guides, and musings on Havasupai Falls coming soon!!!