Havasupai was one of those places I saw years ago on Instagram and said to myself, I will get there one day. This was back before I knew what amazing places travel nursing would take me and it was more of a pipedream. Had I ever backpacked before, no. This was my first time! Which I have to say, this could not be a more perfect first place to go. It’s a doable hike, 11 miles both ways, you get two days to chill in between the hike in and out, and no matter what you have the safety cushion of having the town of Supai close in case you forgot anything.
Lets get down to logistics though! How do you land a permit to even go??
Every year on February 1st permits for the entire year go on sale at 8am. This year was the first that it was all online, before you had to call in, YIKES! Prior I had made an account with all my payment info so when the site opened I could just scroll over to the dates I wanted and submit! ** Highly recommend. I was lucky that since I was choosing April my site didn’t crash or freeze because friends that wanted later in the year had that happen and got the loading screen of death for HOURS. If you get through and get tickets, consider yourself lucky because only 2% of those that apply do. I expect it to get even more difficult in the upcoming years as Instagram promotes it more.
If you don’t get a permit on Feb 1st, there are ways to still get one. You can go on the FB transfer page and people sell them due to not being able to go or maybe they traded for another date as well. I met multiple people who scored permits just the week before going.
**this is not a day hike! You must have a permit.
Ways to get into Havasupai
- Hike- don’t be a pussy
- Pack mule your pack in- also c’mon throw that 40lbs on and get walking.
- Side note, in the past years there has been a lot of talk on the abuse of these animals. Arizona has put stipulations on the tribe to ensure that they are treated better than previously.
- Helicopter- it is $80 each way. I’m biased and I’m sorry if this offends anyone but with the use of helicopters in and out it is adding to the tourism of Havasupai. This used to be a place you had to work to get to and now it is just another location for Instagram posts.
So you have a permit, now what??
- (I used a 46L Osprey ) this was plenty big enough for the 4 days, if you want bigger, a 50L would be the biggest I’d personally go.
Trekking poles- optional, I found them helpful
Jet Boil/cooking supplies
First aid kit/bandaids (cloth ones are better than moleskin)
Water Bottle- Nalgene
- I get asked about my hiking boots a lot. I cannot express how important it is to have ones that YOU think are comfy and fit to your foot appropriately. Get them a bit bigger so your foot has room to slide around or you will get blisters if they are tight. My friend had horrible blisters from the hike in because her shoes were too tight. I lucked out with only a small one. These Danner boots are very comfortable and I naturally have narrow feet so they give me room on the sides and the front.
- Also, MAKE SURE YOU BREAK YOUR BOOTS IN. Do not do this 22 mile hike with new boots.
- I brought both. I ended up buying Salomen water shoes from REI. Going down Mooney is no joke and if I would’ve been in my chacos I don’t think I would’ve been as confident in my footing.
- Shorts, tank, one pair leggings, one long sleeve
- DO NOT OVERPACK CLOTHES- you are in a swimsuit 99% of the time
Dr. Bronners- clean your dishes & wash your clothes. Environment friendly, YEY!
Battery Pack- Anchor
The ground is soft and has rocks which makes the hike suck. You sink with your steps and just adds some extra work. Lets just say my calves hurt like a MF (sorry mom.)
Hike in- pack at least 2L of water
Hike out- 3L. Honestly if you can have any extra do it. I ran out right before the switchbacks and I was dying.
It starts at the hilltop and goes 1 mile down switchbacks, then another 1 mile decline into the canyon. The rest is pretty much flat and downhill from the town to the campgrounds. Now, take note of that because your hike out is uphill, flat, then uphill. It is much harder and you are already tired from the last few days. The last 2 miles uphill to the hilltop are not easy and I was hurting, but once you make it out, the feeling of accomplishment can’t match anything else.
Congrats, you made it to the campgrounds!! Now the fun really begins. Other than that first look at Havasu Falls on your way in (WOW, right?!) you have so much more to see!
Here is what I’d suggest based off days-
Day 1– Hike in, set up camp, hang around Havasu Falls
-Try their fry bread! If you’ve ever had a sopapilla it is very similar. I also tried a supai taco one day
-Mooney Falls, do not attempt this in the dark. You use chains and ladders and with the mist from the falls it is wet and slippery.
-MAKE FRIENDS!! BE SOCIAL!! We met some of the greatest people down there. Amy, Melissa, Bryan, you all are so special to us!
Lastly, remember to LEAVE NO TRACE. Pack out what you pack in. This is a beautiful place that needs to remain beautiful. Yes you are going on a trip, but it is the individuals of Supai’s home.
** I want to add one last tidbit. Before you go out and buy all of this backpacking stuff, try someone elses stuff out and give a hike a try. Backpacking is an amazing thing that provides such an incredible feeling of accomplishment, but it is not for everyone. I will always encourage anyone to do what they dream and set their mind to, but the actual act of carrying 40-60lbs on your back for miles & miles is not fun. You will hurt after! My brother who has backpacked quite a bit gave me this same speech before I bought $1000+ worth of equipment. If it is your first time definitely go with someone experienced. This was my first time and my friend I went with had never been either but I did hours and hours of research and talked to many of my friends who backpack to gain knowledge. REI provides classes on backpacking and intro to camping as well that you may find helpful when starting out.