While Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls are not actually in Grand Canyon National Park; they ARE located in a side canyon on the southern rim of Grand Canyon about 75 miles (and at least 2 1/2 hours) from the South Rim’s Grand Canyon Village.
Many people have seen photos of the turquoise waterfalls and just have to visit them. They are hauntingly beautiful, but there are certain things you should know when planning your trip.
These tropical-looking waterfalls are all located within the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Because it isn’t in the national park, there are different rules, regulations, and permit systems.
The village of Supai is located about 8 miles down Hualapai Trail and must be passed through to get to the campground another two miles away. The community is comprised of about 450 people. The office for checking into the campground is located in Supai.
Visit the tribe’s official website at http://www.havasupai-nsn.gov/. Their website does not provide any useful information other than contact phone numbers and addresses, so you will need to contact them directly for up-to-date information and reservations.
The office hours are: April through October, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and November through March, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily. If you are staying at the Lodge, you do not need to stop at this office. Go directly to the lodge for check-in. All fees charged are subject to a 10% tribal tax. Things change often with the Havasupai, so be sure to verify rates and regulations before your arrival.
The National Park Service has an excellent informational page on the Havasupai Indian Reservation which covers hiking from Hualapai Hilltop to Supai and Mooney Falls. Again, this area is NOT in Grand Canyon National Park; they are providing this information as a public service only.
Be forewarned that communications are not the tribe’s strong suit! There is often nobody answering the phone or it is forever busy. However, be aware that they now have a policy that if you show up without a reservation, you will be forced to hike out. This is a new policy as of 2016. This makes for a long, hard day; do not attempt it!
- (928) 448-2141
- (928) 448-2121
- (928) 448-2180
I do know that one night I was there in the spring of 2004, the campground was overbooked by 100 people!!! And even when it’s not considered overbooked, it is packed from spring through fall. The large number of people allowed in the campground is 250! The campground does not have designated sites, so tents are pitched “at large” and are fit where ever they can.
The Tribe has a 24-room inner canyon lodge. The lobby hours are quite limited (8:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day), so you’ll want to make sure you get there in time for check-in. I’ve been told the rooms are basic but clean. The rooms have two double beds, a private bath and air-conditioning. Don’t expect TV or telephone though! The rooms are all non-smoking.
Lodging Reservations By Phone Only:
- (928) 448-2111
- (928) 448-2201
- Lobby Hours: 8 am – 5 pm
- Open 7 Day a Week
The Havasupai people also offer horses for both riding and packing gear. You can have the horse carry one way, round trip, or from either direction. You are allowed to carry up to four items weighing no more than 130 pounds total on each horse. The load must be divided evenly so it can be balanced on the pack saddle. The prices are slightly less for going to the lodge.
You can also ride a horse in, out or a round trip.
As you may have already gathered from what I’ve said above, don’t expect a “wilderness” experience when visiting Havasu. Depending on the time of year, sometimes you’ll get people who are there to party. That same night that the campground was overbooked by 100 people, there were jokers up with their boom boxes blasting away and playing Frisbee at 1:00 in the morning! One of the Frisbees actually hit one of the tents in my party, and they weren’t in the least apologetic.
That being said, the waterfalls (Havasu, Navajo, and Mooney in particular) are exquisite and worth one visit in your lifetime. Many people can handle it more than I can—go for it!
Helicopter flights between Hualapai Hilltop and Supai are available Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday (double check the schedule before heading up), weather permitting. Fees vary, and tickets are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. I’ve heard people say that they were told one price when reserving and charged much more when they took the actual flight. Be forewarned!
Airwest Helicopters accepts cash, Visa, Master Card & Discover payable to the Airwest ground crew at Haulapai Hilltop. No reservations are needed nor taken. Flights begin at 10 am. Continuous flights are made both in and out of Supai while the helicopter is there. Passengers are served on a first-come, first-served basis; but please be aware that there are priorities in loading passengers: Tribal members have top priority, then tribal business such as vendors, repairmen, etc., then tourists and visitors. Sometimes this results in wait times that can be lengthy, especially on busy days.
I recommend reading some trip reports by others to get a well-rounded view of what a hike into Havasu is like. Here are just a few:
- Havasu Canyon May 11-14, 2010 by Frank Mussler
- Matthew Haughey’s Havasu Hike
- Spring Break in Havasu Canyon
There are many more great trip reports out there. Visit my Trip Reports page to find more links. Happy Trails!
Distances for various destinations are as follows:
|Trail Distances (one way)||Miles||Kilometers|
|Hualapai Hilltop to Supai||8||13|
|Supai to campground||2||3|
|Hualapai Hilltop to campground||10||16|
|Campground to Mooney Falls||0.5||0.8|
|Mooney Falls to Colorado River||8||13|