MY TRIP TO HAVASUPAI FALLS
EDIT: I went to Havasupai Falls in 2019, this is just a repost of my blog from last year, with some updated links :)
I recently just came back from the most amazing trip of a lifetime at Havasupai Falls. As a first time hiker to anywhere, I wanted to share my trip with you guys and provide some tips : ) EXPECTATIONS As a first-time hiker who has never camped anywhere before or have never done any hikes before…I was scared lol. We also didn’t know how tired we were going to be from driving to Hualapai Hilltop from Las Vegas and such. I just want to say…I’m not a nature type of person lol. Living in Texas, there aren’t a lot of chances to go hiking…comfortably. The weather is always humid and everchanging, so I’ve never been a fan of hiking. So when I was told we had to hike 10 miles in order to reach campgrounds from where we parked, I was not exactly ecstatic. I started to look up gym routines to prep my body and to increase my endurance. I ended up doing a lot of stair master as my cardio about twice a week, and I ran a lot (since I was also training for a half marathon over St. Patrick’s Day). I want to say that this training helped a lot, but I was still tired. I think it’s best to do mini hikes if you can for training, but that wasn’t possible for me. Weather wise, I knew it was going to be nice and sunny for us, mid 70s during the day, and mid 30s at night. I knew what clothes I needed to bring and what PJs I needed. Also expectations are only expectations…Once you get there and you see the beautiful waterfalls, no pictures can do it justice. RESERVATIONS Campground reservations can be made at https://www.havasupaireservations.com/ The pricing are as follows: $100 per person for a weekday night and $125 per person per weekend night. All reservations are 4 days and 3 nights, no variations. Reservations for 2019 year opened on February 1st, 2019 at 8AM Arizona time. I believe it’ll be the same time next year. My friend group and I had already created an account on the reservations website and inputted our credit card information so that we would be ready to go on February 1st. With that being said, it was still extremely hard for us to get reservations. It took me 2 hours to successfully book a reservation for 3 people! I would recommend not having a set date in mind with your group, but just a general time or a month to go. Because when reservations open up, it’s going to be a shit show and you’ll most likely not get the exact days you wanted. Also, when choosing how many people for the reservations, try different numbers. Bigger group numbers will decrease your chance in getting a successful reservation, so try having multiple people in your group try getting the reservations. This year, their website was repeatedly crashing on different parts of the website when I was trying to book. I would end up on the pay screen, click PAY, and it would crash. Unless you get a confirmation email with a confirmation code, you did not get a reservation. I was charged twice, once for a 3 people reservation, and another for a 2 people reservation. I only received ONE confirmation email. Later on, I was refunded for the other reservation. I think this was due to the fact that so many people were trying to get reservations, their website was not working properly. When you get to campgrounds, your group has to be present with the person the reservation is under, no exceptions. They will not let you go further at the check-in point if you do not have a reservation. They also have lodging available. I believe 2019 lodging reservations opened up June 1st, 2018 at 8AM Arizona time (2020 reservations will open June 1st, 2019). To reserve, you must call them. This cannot be done online. Room rates are $200 per night, and can only accommodate 4 people. You’ll also need to pay an additional $55 per person for entrance fee, this will increase to $90 per person in 2020. To reserve, you must call (948) 448-2111 or (928) 448 2201. If you cannot get through, keep trying! PACKING Having never hiked in my life before, none the less gone camping…I was pretty clueless on what to pack! I started googling “Havasupai Packing List” and such, and these 2 blogs helped me a lot! https://bearfoottheory.com/backpacking-gear-havasu-falls-packing-list/ https://wanderingwheatleys.com/what-to-pack-for-havasu-falls/ Here is my complete packing list with links:
Kelty Redstone 2.0 60 L Pack No longer available but REI has a lot of similar items
Or you can invest in a water bottle with UV light that kills germs (https://www.livelarq.com/water-bottle/)
OR you can opt for a JetBoil which heats up the water faster
For Food, we bought all Mountain House MREs as we heard they tasted the best. They are available at Amazon, Walmart, REI and Dick's Sporting Goods.
I also recommend bring protein bars for snacks. Here are my favorites
For clothes, I only bought 2 full sets for the 4 days and then whatever I was wearing for the hike in. I bought 1 dri-fit shirt and 1 tank, and 2 pairs of dri-fit shorts. For my hike, I opted for leggings instead of shorts! And I bought 3 pairs of wool socks. My favorite are from SmartWool, I just think they have the best ones! They're thick and prevent smells and they also have different colors and patterns. I also clipped on my hat onto my bag and slipped my sunglasses into the side pockets. ABOUT OUR TRIP So our camp reservations was for Wednesday April 17 to Saturday April 20. We flew from Houston to Las Vegas on Tuesday night April 16. We landed in Las Vegas around 10:30PM and collected our rental car. The rental company we went with was less than efficient…and we finally got our rental car around Midnight. We met up with our group at a near-by In N Out, and from there, we departed to Hualapai Hilltop. It took us a good 4 and a half hours to get there, stopping for restroom breaks and gas. Good tip, fill up for gas in Kingman because from there you’ll drive about 55 miles on Route 66. And then the 55 miles back when you’re coming back this way. About a mile before the hilltop parking lot, they now have a security checkpoint. There will be 2 rangers who stop you and ask you for your reservation number and some general questions like if you have alcohol and drugs. Obviously these things are prohibited. Then they’ll give you some directions on how to get to the parking lot, and where to park if the lot is full. In the parking lot, there is an information trailer, but since we got there so early, the trailer was locked. You’ll get to use the bathroom one last time if needed here! We started our hike at around 5:30AM, and I think it was the perfect time. The sun was slowly rising but it wasn’t hot yet. I felt like we went rouge for a little bit lol. We started to see less trail and just bushes and plants but still saw a lot of horse manure. If you see horse poop, you’re on the right track! When you have reached the point in the below picture, you're about halfway there!
Because this is also the way the horses take to deliver your bags. It took us about 3 and a half hours to reach the village to check-in. At the village, they have a convenient store next to a postal office to buy snacks and such! And to mail out a post card if you want to 😊 At check-in, you need to present your ID, car’s license plate and your reservation. They’ll have you sign a form where you list the names of people in your group, and you’ll get a tag to put on one of your tents. After that, you can start your 2 mile journey to campgrounds! You’ll walk past a church and then turn left. At this point, we were all so exhausted the 2 mile journey felt like 5 miles. But once you reach a corner where they sell FryBread and then a little further, you’ll see Havasu Falls. YOU HAVE ALMOST REACHED CAMPGROUNDS!
Campground will have a bathroom building at the front, and then every 0.1 mile or so. This is also where you pick up your bag that the mules drop off. Camp is about 1 mile long, so you can set up where ever you’d like! My group decided to camp by the river/stream. There’s also room to camp by canyon walls for more shade, but be careful of squirrel thieves! They will steal your food without shame.
There’s also a Fern Spring near camp entrance where you’ll be able to get clean water for drinking, food, etc. We were told that the water comes from a piped Spring that is tested for contaminants on a monthly basis. We also bought water filtration tablets just in case. Here's a map of the campgrounds:
This first day, we just chilled. Our friends’ bag didn’t get dropped off until around 3:30pm, so from there we just set everything up, unpacked and made dinner. The sun starts to set at around 7pm-7:30pm, so that’s when we slept the first day.
First full day, we decided to check out Mooney Falls. To get to Mooney Falls, you’ll just walk through camp grounds, and at the end you’ll see a sign “Descent at your own Risk.”
The descent was honestly pretty frightening because it was so steep at certain points. Everyone goes pretty slow here, and I brought gloves to help me hold on to the chains better. No one will rush you, so don’t worry! Once you get to the bottom, you’ll see the beautiful Mooney Falls and plenty of room to relax.
On the other end, they also had a rope on a tree where you could swing off into the “pond” below, so that was pretty cool! After a while, we tried to hike to Beaver Falls. But I’m not sure if we went on the wrong trail or anything, but we met a wall at a certain point that was super steep, and I’m sure it would’ve been difficult for our huge group to climb up when coming back. We couldn’t find another way at this point, so we all just decided to go back to Mooney Falls and just chill for the day. Next day, which was our last full day, we spent at Havasu Falls. We also bought a bunch of FryBread for the group for lunch, and it was delicious! It was basically an Indian taco, with sour cream, refried beans, cheese, etc. Havasu Falls was beautiful! There’s a part where there’s a 3-tier pond where you can jump off! Not sure if I’m explaining it correctly lol, but you can watch my video!
After a great afternoon, we went back to camp at around 3:30pm-4pm to pack up for our hike out the next morning. We ate dinner, packed our trash, and prepared for bed! Saturday, me and my boyfriend and another friend decided to hike out a little earlier since we were carrying all of our stuff and we knew we would be slower. We started our hike out at around 5:30am or 6am. The rest of the group dropped off their bags at the camp entrance before 8AM. The hike back was tremendously hard, since we were exhausted. We also wanted to buy the Havasupai patch, but this was only available at the Lodges. The hike out took us about 6 hours total. The last 1-2 miles was brutal because that’s where it starts going uphill slowly and then steeply. We took plenty of breaks at this point.
Even with all of my “training” I still felt like I was dying the last mile. It was a constant uphill and when carrying some weight on your back, it’s even tougher. So just be mindful of this when you’re going! Save plenty of water for this part of the hike, as well as protein bars for your rest stops. To be honest, I felt like crying when I finally saw Hilltop after the last mile (it also started raining on us!) because it was a big accomplishment for me to hike more than 10 miles at this incline. After packing up and using the restroom, we drove out! When you reach the end, you’ll see Indian Road 18, and you’ll turn the way you came. For us, it was a right turn to go to Kingman. Just remember, you won’t have service for another 55 miles or so, so remember the way you came!!! TIPS/RECOMMENDATIONS Since this was our first time there, we didn’t know what to expect! But we’ll definitely try to go again, since it was a great experience! If you’re flying, I’d definitely recommend flying in the night before your reservation day to Las Vegas. Driving in from Las Vegas was about 4 hours, if you drive from Phoenix, AZ, it’s about 5 hours. Stock up on water or Gatorade in the car, so when you have hiked out you’ll have fluids and snacks in the car. Make sure you also have enough gas to make the drive back to civilization! For gear, I wished we bought a 5 gallon water carrier so that we could store more water at camp, instead of going back to the spring so often. I also wished I bought more socks! Yes, socks are a luxury here. A new, fresh pair of socks after a long day feels so comforting. I also wish I bought more variety in my clothes…for pictures lol. I felt so limited in what I could bring clothing wise, that I didn’t really bring anything picture worthy (except for my swim suits). My bag was already 17-18 lbs, and my boyfriend’s bag was 22-23 lbs…no room to be extra lol. Next time, we’re also going to think about the Helicopter service or the Mule service. There is a helicopter that can transport you from the hilltop to the village for $85 and vice versa for another $85. HOWEVER, the rides are not guaranteed. Village members get first dib, meaning they can cut the line if they need to go somewhere. If the weather gets windy or bad, they can decide to suspend helicopter services for the rest of the day. When you’re leaving, you need to check in and put your name on a list! Flights begin at 10AM and the guy in charge of check ins is suppose to get there at 9AM. You’ll have people lining up as early as 5AM….so you can get to hilltop as late as 2pm or 3pm. For Mule service, we were iffy on this because there were rumors that the tribe was mistreating the animals. There's even an instagram page dedicated to this - click here to see. So we didn't opt for the service and carried everything instead. To see the rest of our trip, please check out my YouTube video here :)
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