Camping at Havasu Falls is an unforgettable experience. It is located on protected tribal land of the Havasupai Tribe and borders the Grand Canyon. Havasupai means “people of the blue-green waters.” A 10 mile hike down the canyon rewards you with azure blue water falls, red rock canyons, and lush green fauna. It is truly a natural paradise. We felt grateful the entire time that we were allowed on this protected land.
Another 8 mile hike from the campgrounds brings you to the Confluence of the Colorado River. This requires several river crossings (exciting!) and grants you with some of the most iconic views of the Grand Canyon. This is a detailed guide for planning your own camping trip to Havasu Falls and hike to the Confluence.
Havasu Falls Camping Reservations
First, you are not allowed to take this on as a day hike. The Havasupai Tribe administers the camping permits and it is imperative to book this in advance. The entire hike is 36 miles: 10 miles to the campsite, 16 miles roundtrip between the campsite and the Confluence of the Colorado River, and another 10 miles to return to the trailhead. While the sheer distance of the hike is daunting it is also extremely rewarding! Perhaps even harder than the hike itself is securing your reservations to camp at Havasu Falls. Reservations open on February 1st and it typically books out for the year soon after. There is capacity for about 350 campers per day. We spoke with the office and they told us they were accommodating up to 500 due to the high demand but were at capacity. In order to protect the environment they use a sophisticated compost system at the camp toilets and had reached the compost capacity at the current numbers.
Where To Book
In the past Havasu Fall fans spent hours on the phone trying to reach the office to make reservations. Luckily in 2018 a new online reservation system was launched, Here is the website for reservations:
Reservations open on February 1 for the camping season. Due to the popularity of this site and the limited space, it sells out within hours. It is possible to book later in the season with a tour group or by calling the office directly and hope to get lucky. We have also seen individuals offer up extra passes on this Facebook Group for Havasau Falls.
Tips for securing your reservations
- Mark your calendar for February 1 8AM MTN time
- Jump on the website as soon as reservations open. Increase your chances by having multiple parties in your group try.
- Try on multiple devices. We found that it was more effective on the computer vs the phone.
- Keep trying. Dates get taken immediately but get released if individuals can’t confirm their payment within 10 minutes.
- When you select dates on the website, a 2 day camping permit only gets you 1 night on the campground. We met multiple people who made this mistake. You will want at least 3 days, 2 nights in order to cover the distance of the hikes and give yourself time to enjoy the landscape!
We were in Patagonia on February 1st when the 2018 reservations opened. We spent the morning in a coffee shop and after 1.5 hours trying were able to secure two nights in May. It is worth the time and effort!!
Packing for Havasu Falls Camping
I can’t reiterate enough the 36 miles of the hike. Light packing is essential! We pulled from a lot of the items from our Minimalist RTW packing list. Here is Jesse with all the gear for two people for a 3 day, 2 night hike.
Alternate Options for Carrying Gear to Campsite
We also considered the following options, but opted to carry our own gear:
- Mules: $270 one way to carry 4 bags down the canyon. Reservation required on week in advance.
- Helicopter: $85 one way to fly to the village. 2 mile hike from the village to the campground. Weather dependent (often cancelled for high winds) and only flies Sunday, Monday, and Thursdays.
- We read a lot about mistreatment for the mules. Based on what we saw, they all seemed well treated:
Packing List: Food & Shelter 3 days, 2 nights
- Camping Hammock with Mosquito Net & Rain Flap: We choose a camping hammock as it took up less space than tents + sleeping pads.
- 3 Trash bags: To carry out our trash. We planned to use one to hang in a tree with our food but found a bucket provided by the campsite to store food at night.
- Small zip lock bags
- Tarp: We used this to cover our bags at night to protect from rain. We also laid this on the ground to have an area to walk around barefoot after our long hike day.
- Camping Stove & Fuel
- Camp cook set & utensils
- Sleeping bags
- Sleep Liner: We are obsessed with this product and took it with us to over 30 countries on our trip around the world.
- Starbucks instant coffee
- Water: Make sure to descend with at least 3L of water in a bladder . There is fresh water at the Supai village (8 miles from the trailhead) as well at the campground. We also attached an empty gallon jug to our pack. We filled this once we arrived to camp. This was useful for bringing cooking water to our campsite.
- Hand Held Water Purifier & 1 Nalgene Bottle: This is important for the long hike to the Confluence
- Snacks: Granola bars, trail mix, a pack of twizzlers (or your candy of choice)
- Lunch & Breakfast: We pre made peanut butter sandwiches as lunch and breakfast for the first two days of the hike
- Simple camp dinners: We find packing one grain and one sauce per night makes a simple on pot camping meal. Ours were Pesto pasta. Farro chili. Cous cous chili.
This was our first time camping with a hammock. We loved that it involved less gear and found it very comfortable. Havasu Falls campground is filled with trees and is a hammock haven. We found an amazing spot right before the head of Mooney Falls and it was one of the coolest spots we have camped!
Clothing Packing List 3 days, 2 nights
- Backpack: We used this backpack for our trip around the world. We love the zip off day pack which we used during the hike to the Confluence.
- 3L Camelback / Bladder
- Battery Phone Case: These are great because in the evening you can charge the case and the phone at the same time.
- Anker External Battery: We opted for this one which holds 5 Days of Charge but still retains a fairly light weight
- 2 extra carabiners, a few safety pins
- 2 head lamps
- Hand Held Water Purifier & 1 Nalgene Bottle
Women’s pack list
- 3 pairs of underwear – ExOfficio Women’s
- 2 hiking socks
- 1 sports bra
- 1 pair yoga pants: for sleeping and around the campsite in the evening
- 1 pair of shorts
- One pair of hiking pants: I didn’t wear this on our hike to the Confluence but recommend wearing them to protect from shrub scratches.
- 2 quick dry t shirts
- 1 Long Sleeve Quick Dry
- Light Weight Rain/UV Jacket
- Garden gloves
- Hiking boots: After a lot of trial and error, these happen to be the shoes that work for me, but I would highly recommend trying out yours long before your trip. A good a pair of hiking shoes can make or break a trip.
- Teva Women’s Original Universal Sandal: This item has been a real MVP on the packing list! Great for water crossing or as a post hike shoe. Paired with a thick pair of socks they even work well in cold settings!
- Winter Hat: Mine is a knit hat that Jesse bought for me in Peru. Here is a similar one.
- Henschel Aussie Crushable Mesh: Great head covering!
- 2 pairs of cheap sunglasses: it’s always a good idea to have a backup pair!
- Swim suit
- A set of thermal underwear (evenings get very cold)
Men’s packing list
- Shoes: Hiking boots,
- 1 pair of hiking pants
- 1 pair of long underwear
- 1 athletic shorts
- 2 wicking t-shirts
- 1 bathing suit
- 3 pairs of underwear ExOfficio Men’s
- 2 pairs of hiking socks
- Winter hat, baseball hat, gloves,
- 2 pairs of cheap sunglasses
- Light Weight Rain/ UV Jacket
Havasu Falls: Hike to Supai Village
The 8 mile hike from the parking lot to Supai Village is approximately 1.5 miles of downhill across switchbacks, very easy going down and very hard on the way back up. The last 6.5 miles to the village gets hot but is not very strenuous. Don’t forget to bring head covering!! The hike is generally flat through canyons, although slightly downhill (slightly uphill on the way back). When you hear the river flowing you are just under 2 miles away from the village.
Havasu Falls: Hike to Campgrounds and New Navajo & Havasu Falls
As spectacular as the hike to Supai Village is, it gets so much better from the village on. Its 2 miles downhill from the village to the campground. After a mile you pass the first waterfall. Then about 0.25 miles from the campground you see Havasu Falls and all the pain from the 10 mile hike goes away. Its a great place to stop, take a swim and cool off. After Havasu Falls is the campground, which spans a half a mile from Havasu Falls all the way to Mooney Falls.
We recommend avoiding the more crowded campsites at the front of the campground and snagging a site near the river closer to Mooney Falls. This means hiking the half mile length of the campground to reach the sites a the very end. We camped at the very edge of the campground crossing two river bridges to find a quiet spot just before the edge of Mooney Falls.
Havsau Falls: Hike to Mooney & Beaver Waterfalls
The hike to the bottom of Mooney Falls is not pleasant for those afraid of heights, but *incredible* for adventure seekers. After climbing through a cave, it’s straight downhill climb. You navigate down 3 ladders as rain from the waterfall cools you off. There are chains on both sides to grab onto, we recommend wearing gloves (we bought garden gloves from Target for $3).
The last falls, Beaver Falls are about 3 miles from the campsite. If you have a relaxing day, its a great place to chill and swim as not many people go there. Just before the boundary with the Grand Canyon National Park, the path to Beaver Falls heads downhill towards the river down 2 ladders. There’s a beautful lookout and to reach the top of the falls, you an swim across the river, and to climb a rope, after which you can climb 2 ladders to the top of the falls.
Hike to The Confluence
This is a long day, so start early, before 7 AM (should be around 4 hours each way). The confluence is where you reach the Colorado River and is incredible. The hike is 8 miles out and back, 16 miles roundtrip, but totally worth it. Most of the hike is relateivley flat and easy to follow, you simpy follow the trail that follows the river. After hiking down to Mooney Falls and away from it, you will see what looks like several differnet trails. They all lead to the same place, just try to follow one that follows the river.
About 0.75 miles from the falls, when you can’t hike on your side of the river it will be pretty obvious that you’re at your first river crossing. Simply roll up your shorts, and cross the river. The only difficult part of the trail to follow occurs at the intersection of Beaver Falls. When you seThe confluence aisa e the sign for Beaver Falls just stay to the right. If shortly after seeing hte signs you arrive at picninc tables you are heading to Beaver Falls, not the Confluence and need to turn aroumd. If you’re going the right way, the trail will go uphill until you reach the sign saying “Entering Grand Canyon National Park.”
You know you are close to the Colorado River when you climb thorugh a cave. About 10 minutes after the cave is a mini waterfall and your last river crossing. We would recommend crossing here, where you will then hike and get to see the colorado river. Hike down to the Colorado (but dont jump in the current is strong). To leave, you can put your bag over your head and head into the river that you hiked the last 8 miles along. You will come to a narrow section where the current is very storng. Its a very difficult 6 steps to get through this passageway, but is one of the nicest sections of the entire Confluence hike. Then its only 8 miles back to the campground!
The Confluence hike is a long tiring day, but is incredible and if you have the time and stamina was our favorite place during our stay at Havasupai.