The one thing I’ve noticed about the US so far? Okay, there are a lot of things... but the biggest surprise so far is just how much there is to do and see here. Turns out the US south west is packed with endless trails to hike, viewpoints to enjoy and places to explore.
The first stretch of our US south west took us to Arizona, Utah and Nevada - basically a loop of the Grand Canyon. It was an incredible 10 days of hiking, exploring and non-stop photo oops, and only a taste of what this area has to offer any traveller. Turns out this country is incredibly photogenic, too.
A US road trip is something that falls on every pretty much every travel bucket list and there are so many routes you can take. There's just so much to see here in the USA that even if you wanted to road trip around the States for a whole year, you’d still leave so much unexplored.
I shared 6 of the best places to visit on a US road trip - especially if you’re after that perfect Instagram shot - in Wednesday’s video, along with some of the photos I took in each of the locations. And it’s pretty clear that Instagram had a favourite of these: this shot from Havasu Falls.
One look at the bright blue water is enough to understand why. Havasu Falls is the kind of waterfall that’s impressively grand and impressionably serene in equal measure. And it’s obviously beautiful. Some places just seem too crazy beautiful to be real, and Havasu Falls is definitely one of them.
Luckily, Havasu Falls is very real - even if you have to see it for yourself to believe the colour of that water. And it’s also very easy to plan a trip to see Havasu Falls for yourself.
Perfectly situated just off Route 66, it’s the perfect stop-off on a US road trip - even if you can't technically drive all the way there. However you get there and whenever you go, a visit to Havasupai is a fantastic way to spend a few days soaking up nature and disconnecting from the world.
Reasons to visit Havasupai
If the photos and videos aren't enough to convince, here are some of the reasons our hike to Havasu Falls has been the highlight of the US road trip so far:
Okay, that's an obvious one, but I can't say it enough. The waterfall is beautiful, but so is the entire hike to Havasupai, even when the Havasu canyon feels like it goes on forever. It's impossible to immerse yourself in something so impressive and not be in awe of how cool it is.
It’s a good hike
Don't mistake 'good' with 'easy'; the hike to Havasu Falls isn't an easy hike. It's a 9-mile hike, which will take around 3-5 hours. On the way in, you have a steep downhill hike for the first half-mile or so. On the way out, you have to go uphill after a 4+ hike to the bottom of the hill! But no matter how long it takes you, you can't deny that it's a rewarding experience.
You can send a postcard by donkey
Supai village is the last place in the USA to send and receive its mail by donkey cart. So if you want the unique experience of sending you loved ones a postcard by donkey cart, this is the place to go! Just make sure you take a spare stamp and postcard with you - when we arrived, they didn't have any to buy in the store.
You can go all the way to the Grand Canyon
Whether you hike or helicopter, the Havasu canyon that you'll take into Havasupai is part of the Grand Canyon. If you're not completely exhausted and have extra, it's possible to hike beyond the Havasupai Falls and reach the Grand Canyon. It'll be an extra 10-mile hike but undoubtedly an amazing experience.
How to get to Havasu Falls
It might not be the easiest way to get there, but a hike to Havasu Falls is well worth the blood, sweat and tears you’ll probably pay to get there.
The hike to Supai village - where the Havasupai lodge can be found - is 8 miles long through Havasu canyon. The hike to Havasu Falls and the Havasu Falls campground is another 1.5 miles, meaning the entire hike to Havasu Falls is around 9.5 miles in total. It's a long but fairly easy hike. The biggest challenge is carrying 3-4 days' worth of camping gear and the steep incline at the beginning, but don't worry - it's mostly flat the rest of the way!
It’s completely free to hike the Havasupai native reservation, but don't expect any help along the way. There are no mile markers, signs or stop-offs on the entire trail to Supai village, except for a single board telling you you're "almost there" (but not saying how much further there is to go!).
Given that there's no way out if anything goes wrong or you take more breaks than planned, it's best to start the hike as early in the day as possible to give yourself time to complete the hike in daylight. An early hike will also mean you don't get caught in the afternoon Arizona sun.
Taking the Havasupai helicopter
If you don't have much time, don't like hiking or are unable to, you can still visit Havasu Falls. The Havasupai helicopter flies back and forth between the trail head and Supai, with the journey taking about 10-15 minutes in total - much quicker than hiking.
Helicopter rides cost a very reasonable $85 each way, plus $20 per bag. If you want to do the hike to Havasu Falls but would rather do it without a big heavy bag on your back, you can also send your bag on the helicopter for $20 and pick it up when you arrive in Supai.
The one catch with the Havasu Falls helicopter is that it can't be booked in advance. It's best to turn up early to make sure you can get on.
If you're going to take the helicopter one way, take the helicopter out of Havasupai. The hike is long whichever way you go, but the hike out is definitely more challenging - especially the uphill climb at the end!
Taking a donkey to Havasu Falls
As well as hiking or taking the helicopter, it's also possible to take a donkey into Supai. It costs around $120 each way, but I don't know how well the animals are treated and would avoid it if possible.
Havasu falls camping
Havasupai camping reservations
If you want to visit Havasu Falls in the summer months, you'll need to book up early. The Havasu Falls camping area is pretty big but fills up very quickly during peak season. Havasu Falls reservations can be made by booking online. The office is only open from 9am to 3pm, Monday-Friday. There's a good chance that nobody will answer on your first attempt, so be prepared to call a few times!Camping at Havasu Falls costs around $30 per person per night in addition to the entry and environmental fees (below). If you visit Havasu Falls out of season (December-February), you can hike or helicopter in and make your reservation on the day.
If you don't fancy camping at Havasu Falls, you can also stay at the Havasupai lodge. There are no other hotels in Havasupai, so it's your only option, and you'll also have to book in advance. The Havasupai lodge has 24 double rooms and costs up to $160 ($145 + 10% tax) for four people.
While the Havasu Falls camping is located right next to Havasu Falls, the lodge is located in the Supai village, 8 miles from the trail head and 1-1.5 miles from Havasu Falls. It's an easy hike in to Havasu Falls and shouldn't take more than 45-60 minutes.
You can book a room at the Havasupai Lodge by calling the Havasu Falls reservations number above.
Cost of visit Havasu Falls
Entry to the Havasupai Indian Reservation on which Havasu Falls is located is $55 ($50 + 10% tax). This fee must be paid by every visitor and can be paid in advance, but make sure you bring your receipt with you. It can also be paid on-site.
In addition to any entry and reservation costs, the Havasupai tribe also charges an environmental care fee to every visitor. This fee is currently $11 ($10 + 10% tax) and must be paid at the Havasupai tourist office.
When to visit Havasu Falls
Most tourists try to visit Havasu Falls in the summer. If you want the best weather - and to guarantee that the campground will be open! - then it's best to make a reservation for the warmer months.
If you don't mind risking the weather, however, the winter months are a great time to go. It will be chilly at night so you'll want to wrap up warm, but once the sun hits in the daytime it quickly warms up. The water will be colder, too, but it's not too cold to swim in (and the locals do).
We went in January and, apart from one other couple, we had the entire Havasu Falls campground to ourselves. That meant we also got to enjoy Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls with no-one else around. It's an experience that's well worth facing the cold for and a great option if you're struggling to get a camping reservation in the summer months.
Other things you need to know about visiting Havasupai
There's no cell service
Don't expect to use your phone while you're visiting Havasu Falls. There's no cell coverage in the entire Havasu Canyon and area surrounding Havasu Falls, so it's a good chance to switch off and enjoy nature.
Make sure you download any documents or receipts you need before reaching the trail head. If you do need to use the internet, there's free WiFi in the Havasupai tourism office (when it's open).
Drones are prohibited
Leave the drone at home because you won't be able to fly it at Havasu Falls. Luckily, the view is incredible enough from the ground and the trail lets you see Havasu Falls from both above (like in the above photo) and below.
Campfires are also prohibited
The Havasu Falls campsite is well-equipped with toilets that don't smell (and even have solar-powered lights!) and a natural spring for drinking water, but campfires are banned. We took a small gaslight in and ate freeze-dried food during our stay, but there's a small restaurant and a grocery store in Supai if you'd rather buy food there.
It can be closed at any time
Even if you have a reservation, Havasupai can close at any time. It's nature, after all, and the area is prone to flash floods during the wet season.Visit the Havasupai tourism website for more information on bookings and reservations.
I hope you've found this guide to Havasu Falls useful, especially if you're planning to hike to Havasu Falls like we did! If you have any questions, let me know and I'll update this guide. If you want to see more of Havasu Falls and the Havasu canyon, I hiked the entire experience. Check out my vlog below to see my own hike to Havasu Falls and time at the Havasupai campground.