Havasu Falls might just be my favourite spot in the whole of the United States. And given how big and diverse the country is, that’s saying something. But unlike other places in the US, you’ll need to start your Havasu Falls trip with a plan.
Hidden in the Grand Canyon, Havasupai Falls is a little bit tricky to get to but totally worth the effort. Here’s how to get to Havasu Falls and see those beautiful blue waterfalls for yourself.
Getting to the Havasu Falls trailhead
The journey to Havasu Falls can be split into two parts. The most challenging part, getting to Havasu Falls, comes last. But before you can even think about that, you’ll need to think about getting to the Havasu Falls trailhead.
You have a few options to choose from.
Las Vegas to Havasu Falls
Getting to the Havasupai trailhead – also known as Hualapai Hilltop – isn’t easy. Whichever way you come from, it’s going to involve a long drive. Hualapai Hilltop is a long way from any big cities, but Las Vegas is the easiest to drive from.
Vegas is a world away from Havasu Falls, but combining the two makes a great trip. It’s probably best to spend some taking it easy in Vegas first, especially if you’re flying in from another part of the world.
Or you could do what we did last time and enjoy a lavish weekend in Vegas after a few shower-less days of camping. If you can face turning up at a fancy hotel covered in mud, I highly recommend it.
Phoenix to Havasu Falls
Another option is to drive to the Havasu Falls trailhead from Phoenix, Arizona. At 4-4.5 hours, it’s a slightly longer drive – but only slightly.
All in all, there’s not much different between driving from Phoenix and driving from Vegas. If you’re flying in from afar, both airports are easy enough to get to and have cheap air tickets. If you’re driving from elsewhere, you can base it on any other places you want to stop along the way.
How to get to Havasu Falls
Once you’ve made it to the Havasupai trailhead, the fun really begins. You have two main options for getting to Havasu Falls from here… and they’re very different. Your choice is likely to depend on three things: fitness levels, budget and time available.
Option #1: Hiking Havasupai
It might not be the easiest way to get there, but hiking 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 10 miles in total. It’s a long but fairly straigthforward 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, it’s best to start the hike as early in the day as possible. It will give you enough time to complete the hike in daylight and take a few breaks along the way. An early hike will also mean you don’t get caught in the afternoon Arizona sun.
Time needed: Most people complete the hike in around 5 hours. You may need to rest more if you’re hiking in the hotter months. Allow 6 hours if you want to stop for a little lunch break and enjoy the canyon scenery like we did! You’ll need a full day to get into Havasu Falls and another full day to get out.
Cost: It’s free! But invest in a good hiking backpack.
Requirements: The hike is quite intense and there’s no way out once you start. Only attempt it if you’re in good health.
Option #2: Take the helicopter to Havasu Falls
If you don’t have much time, don’t like hiking or are unable to, you can take a helicopter ride to Havasu Falls. The Havasupai Falls helicopter flies back and forth between the trailhead and Supai village fairly regularly. The journey taking about 10-15 minutes in total, so it’s much quicker than hiking. That means it’s a much better option if you’re short for time.
Helicopter rides cost $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. If I went again, I would 100% do this!
The one catch with the Havasu Falls helicopter is that it can’t be booked in advance. There seems to be a first seen, first served policy so it’s best to turn up early to make sure you can get on. We met people who had been waiting two days because the helicopter didn’t fly, so make sure you leave a day or two before booking any flight home.
The other thing you need to know is that you can’t take a helicopter flight all the way to Havasu Falls. The helicopter flies to Supai village, and you’ll need to hike the last mile or so to get to the waterfall and the Havasu Falls campground. It’s an easy, flat walk through mostly shaded area and shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
If you’re going to take a helicopter ride 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!
Time needed: The flight time is around 10 minutes in and the same out again. That means you can even visit Havasu Falls (and the other waterfalls) in one day, with no need to stay overnight.
Cost: A one-way flight costs $85. It’s not a cheap ride, but it will save you the 10-mile hike. Sending a bag costs $20 each way.
Requirements: Nothing, other than a little bit of luck that the helicopter is running.
Other ways to get 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. Therefore the two options above are the only options for getting to Havasu Falls.
Planning your trip to Havasu Falls
Hotels near Havasu Falls
Ready for the bad news? Whichever city you come from, the drive to the Havasupai trailhead is mostly a 60-mile long straight road in the middle of nowhere. There’s nothing along the way, except maybe for a few Route 66 souvenirs at the start.
For that reason, many people choose to sleep in their cars at the trailhead and begin their hike in the morning. If you don’t fancy that, you could stay in a motel about an hour’s drive away and get up early.
Directions to Havasu Falls
The road to the Havasupai Falls trailhead is about as straight as it comes, but the turning is easy to miss. You need to hike during daylight so a wrong turn could mess up your entire journey to Havasu Falls. Waze is one of my favourite travel apps for directions and it’s great for travelling in the USA. It seems a lot more reliable than Google Maps, so it’s worth downloading to help your trip go smoothly.
Once you get into the Havaupai trail, it’s almost impossible to go the wrong way. There are few signs or directions, but it’s hard to go wrong in a narrow slot canyon. Just keep walking… and walking some more… and you’ll get to Havasu Falls. Eventually.
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