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Havasupai: Backpack to Havasupai

backpack to havasupai

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the rundown

Duration: 3 days/2 nights (at least, I recommend more!)

Distance: 20 miles round-trip to Havasu Falls and campground, 8 miles round-trip from campground to Beaver Falls

Elevation change: -2,000' to campground

Trailhead: Hualapai Hilltop

Havasupai had been on my "must-visit" list for a few years. In 2016 I missed out on the very short window of reserving permits so the hike was, unfortunately, out of the running for that year. However, I was determined to make it to Havasupai in 2017 so on February 1, the date when permits are available for reservation each year, I was on the phone and dialing the office. Up until 2017 the only way to secure a permit was to relentlessly call the Havasupai office and pray to the hiking gods you were one of the lucky ones who were able to get through and reserve a permit. I spent all of 2/1 calling the office hundreds of time yet all I heard on the other end was a busy signal. On 2/2 I began the process again but then a friend alerted me that this year they launched a website where they would sell all of their permits. I immediately logged on and began plugging in my information. I hoped to visit in April or May but, much to my dismay and disappointment, almost the entire year was already booked. The weekend that was still available? Thanksgiving. Not wanting to miss out on visiting Havasupai a second year in a row I booked our permit! And then the waiting game began...


planning your hike to havasupai

Are permits required? Yes!! As you may have gathered from my introduction paragraph, securing permits for Havasupai can be a bit of a crap shoot, or at least it used to be. In 2017 the office launched a website ( that makes getting permits a little less of a game of luck, but still tricky. On 2/1 at 8AM Arizona Time the permits for the entire year are available for reservation and they go fast. If you want to visit Havasupai and get your first choice of dates you should log onto the website as early as possible.

Permit fees: 

One Person, 2 Days/1 Night: $140.56

One Person, 3 Days/2 Nights: $171.12

One Person, 4 Days/3 nights: $201.67

Weekends are subject to an extra $18.34 per night.

Due to some issues that arose in the past, 100% of the reservation fee is due up front. The permits are also non-refundable and non-transferrable.

***While typically you pick up your permits before you begin a backpacking trip, that is not the case for this trip. You do not pick up your permit until you are in the village of Supai, 8 miles into your hike to Havasupai. 

How to get to Havasupai and the trailhead: The hike to Havasupai begins at the Hualapai Hilltop, 60 miles off of the historic Route 66. The nearest town is Peach Springs and if you are hoping to get an early start but don't want to sleep at the trailhead you can stay at the Hualapai Lodge, 1.5 hours from the trailhead. The hotel even offers hikers complimentary to-go breakfasts for their early drive to Hualapai Hilltop!

The nearest major airport to Havasupai is the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. It is 219 miles away (approximately a 4 hour drive).

For detailed Google directions click  HERE

For detailed Google directions click HERE

For detailed Google directions click  HERE

For detailed Google directions click HERE

When to go: While Havasupai can be visited any time from February 1 through December 31 (it closes in the month of January for maintenance) the best time to visit is in spring or fall. The days are long enough to allow for plenty of time to explore the 5 waterfalls but the extreme heat of the summer hasn't set in yet. In the summer months extreme caution needs to be taken while hiking to and from the campground. Most hikers begin hiking in the middle of the night in order to complete the exposed hike before the sun rises. It's also important to note that there are no water sources on the 10 mile hike from the trailhead to the campground so hikers will be responsible for carrying all the water they will need on the hike. 

Special notes: When you visit Havasupai you are visiting tribal land and it is important that you treat your hosts with respect. Havasu means "blue-green water" and pai means "people" so Havasupai means "blue-green water people." This tribe has lived in the Grand Canyon for at least 800 years. This has been their home for centuries and it is important for all visitors to remember this. This means not trying to sneak in and day-hike, not camping on top of Mooney Falls, and abiding by other posted regulations. This is an incredibly beautiful place and worthy of our respect. 

Gear to pack: 

  • The 10 Essentials
  • Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent
  • Camera gear
  • Trekking poles
  • Water filter (there is a spring at the campground and while you don't necessarily have to filter this water, it's always a good idea to filter any untreated water)

photo Gallery

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