Havasu Falls, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

Hike to Havasu Falls [2023]: How to get Permits, When to Go, What to Take

INFORMATION FROM THE HAVASUPAI FACEBOOK PAGE: There are no new reservations available in 2023. We know in years past that February 1 is the date to get the current year’s permits — that is not the case for 2023. The only way to go in 2023 is to purchase off the transfer list. Reservations for 2024 are not available until February 2024.

We had the unique opportunity to visit what I believe is the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited in my entire life in March of 2017. It’s an area of land that has been owned and managed by the Havasupai American Indian tribe for the last 800 years known as Havasu Falls.

Prior to our visit, Nick complained about the serious lack of information about getting a permit for Havasu Falls on the official Havasupai Tribe website. So I promised him I would write an incredibly detailed (and hopefully helpful) post. We hope you enjoy it!

Note: The reservation process has gotten significantly easier since 2017, lucky you! Read our updated post with the latest information on Havasu Falls.

Havasu Falls, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

We published a 2020 Havasu Falls: Permit, Hiking, and Camping Guide. We recommend reading that post for all of the most up-to-date Havasu Falls pricing and reservation information!

Guide to Visiting Havasu Falls (Updated for 2022)

How to get a permit for Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls is one of the top items on many people’s USA bucket lists. That means camping permits are in very high demand. Havasu Falls permits become available on February 1st at 8 am Arizona Time. Most of the permits for the upcoming 9-month season are booked up in the first week or so. You’ll need to book directly through their online reservation system.

When we booked our permits in 2017, we had to dial 3 phone numbers over and over again until someone would finally pick up. Now they actually ask that you NOT call their office at all unless you have a customer service issue.

Hammock at Havasu Falls, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

If you want to secure a permit for Havasu Falls make sure you mark 2 important dates on your calendar:

  • January: Starting in 2019, you’ll need to create an account on the Havasu Falls Reservation site.
  • February 1: This is the day Havasu Falls permits go on sale for the entire 9-month season. Make sure you log onto the reservation site promptly at 8 am Arizona time. It will give you the best odds of getting a permit to camp at Havasu Falls.

Rumor has it that they sell around 300 permits per day in the low season and 400 in the high season. Weekends are obviously more popular than weekdays.

Money Falls in Havasu Canyon, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

Ultimate Guide to Havasu Falls eBook

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Fees for Visiting Havasu Falls

Entrance Fees (these are all-in prices that include all permits, fees, and taxes for one person. They are subject to change at the tribe’s discretion):

  • $100 per person per weekday night
  • $125 per person per weekend night (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday)

How Long to Visit Havasu Falls

Beginning in 2019, all campground reservations will be for 3 nights/4 days according to the reservation website.

Rules and Regulations

Honestly, we didn’t come across any outlandish rules other than “no alcohol”. What?!? Apparently, they have an issue with alcoholism among the locals so they don’t want it anywhere near them. We heard a nasty rumor that they may come by your campsite in the evening hours to inspect your drink. However, we never encountered anyone and we were most certainly drinking our boxed wine every night (SHAME ON US!).

Other rules include absolutely NO:

  • Drones
  • Campfires
  • Weapons
  • Drugs
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Ultimate 2023 Havasu Falls Guide: Reservations, Permits, Hiking, & Camping

How to get to Havasu Falls

From the Havasupai parking area, it is approximately 8 miles to the village and then an additional 2 miles to Havasu Falls and to the start of the campground. There are several options for getting there. You can hike in with all of your gear or you can hike in with a horse to carry your gear. Another option is to take a helicopter ride.

Our original plan was to hike-in our gear. But as we were gathering our belongings at 8:30 am to start our hike, we met a saint of a man who had paid the $120 to hire a horse. He was only using 2 of the 4 allotted bag spots (the horses can carry up to 4 bags and/or 130 pounds). He offered us a deal we couldn’t refuse. We scrambled to throw stuff in smaller day hiking bags before taking off. The moral of that story is it’s worth talking to people when you arrive to see if you can strike the same deal!

The helicopter ride is offered for $85/per person. In speaking with a lady who took that option, it sounds like you are only allowed one bag per person. You are charged an additional cost per pound for bags weighing more than the allotted amount. We also heard that you have to get to the helicopter line early or you’ll end up waiting for hours. Locals get priority and apparently Thursday is payday so they all go to town to cash their checks.

As we were hiking out we saw loads of people waiting in line to get out. It didn’t look fun. We also saw a few people riding horses out of the canyon when we were hiking. But, I didn’t meet anyone who did it and I have no idea what the cost would be. They all looked miserable (but probably not nearly as miserable as we did when we had to hike out).

From the parking lot, there is a 1.5-ish mile descent into the canyon via switchbacks. This is super fun and easy on the way there and sooooo miserable on the way out. Especially while carrying a 30-pound pack (why didn’t a saintly man offer us a killer horse deal on the way out?). The rest of the hike is through the canyon wash so it is fairly flat the entire way.

Once you get through the town you begin to see some epic waterfalls and swimming holes. It is very tempting to say “oh let’s go on to Havasu Falls and come back later”. Trust me, you won’t.

Fifty Foot Falls, Havasu Canyon, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

It’s so worth the stop, both on the way there and on your way back out. Once you’re at Havasu Falls, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll want to head back to town (unless you need food or are staying at the lodge).

It is BEAUTIFUL and sunny at the top of Little Navajo Falls. Havasu Falls only got sun from about 11 am-2 pm while we were there. We figured that Mooney Falls never got any sunshine. It is definitely worth the stop at Little Navajo Falls to soak in the rays.

Soaking at the top of Navajo Falls, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

It seems most people choose to start their hike out of the canyon on their last day early in the morning (around 5 am) before the heat of the day. We actually opted to enjoy our morning coffee in our hammock and then stop for a swim at the top of Little Navajo Falls for another few hours. We then started our hike out at around 3:30 pm.

It was great; it was cool in the canyon and we hardly ran into anyone along our journey. However, as I mentioned before, that 1.5 miles of switchbacks was torture. But that’s going to suck no matter what time you leave. Case and point…

Taking a break in Havasu Canyon by Wandering Wheatleys
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Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls

This is where I was confused at first. I was under the impression that these were completely separate trails and that each was its own day hike. That is incorrect. You actually have to hike through Mooney to get to Beaver Falls so most people do both in one day (if you do, you should definitely leave early in the am to get ample time at each).

The campsites are all between Havasu and Mooney (in fact, there were several people camped at the very top of Mooney) and the two falls are less than a mile from each other. And Beaver Falls is about another 2.3 miles one-way from Mooney.

Overlook of Mooney Falls, Havasu Canyon, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

But be forewarned, the hike down to Mooney Falls is not for the faint of heart. You must climb down a sheer cliff wall using ladders and chains for most of the way. And it’s muddy and slippery from the waterfall mist.

Mooney Falls, Havasu Canyon, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

BUT once you get to the bottom you’ll know that it was all worth it. And it’s not as crazy as it feels at the time; there are chains to hold on to and hundreds of people (and children) do it every day. Plus you can’t possibly have gone through all of this work to get to Havasu Falls and NOT see this part of the canyon.

The hike to Beaver Falls, Havasu Canyon, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

The hike from Mooney Falls to Beaver Falls is fairly flat and easy enough. There are 3 river crossings which we did barefoot (although water shoes would be recommended) and a few ladders to climb but nothing that was overly difficult.

We would highly recommend taking this day trip as the hike is lovely and Beaver Falls is absolutely spectacular!

Beaver Falls, Havasu Canyon, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys
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Hiking to Havasu Falls Without a Permit

The Havasupai tribe forbids day hiking and you’ll need a reservation for the campsite or the lodge to stay the night. Thinking of sneaking in? Someone checked on us 4 times during our 4 days at the falls. The first was in the parking lot. A lady sitting in her car has a list of the names of all registered campers. Second, we were asked for our names by a random man on a horse during our hike to the village. He wrote it on a tiny pad of paper. Not sure exactly how he confirmed our reservation or what he would have done if he found out we didn’t have one.

We then checked-in at the Tourist Office in the village. This was the only place that we were asked for ID and only Nick was asked to provide photo ID because he was our “party leader” (you chose who is the party leader when you make the reservation). We were then each given a wristband and a tag to attach to the outside of our tent.

Lastly, we came across a man waiting at the top of Beaver Falls who checked our wristbands and asked for our names. We chatted with him for a bit and I asked him about catching people sneaking in. He said a fair amount of people take a boat in from the Colorado River and then hike up the canyon which is about 4-ish miles to Beaver Falls.

Beaver Falls Sign, Havasu Canyon, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

I asked about what the penalty is for those folks and he said that they get either asked to turn back or to stay on the Grand Canyon side (which is right below Beaver Falls), or they are just required to pay the entrance fee of ~$75. Nothing too serious. He seemed friendly and talkative and certainly not out to get anyone.

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Amenities at Havasu Falls

There are disgusting, horrifying port-o-potties at the trailhead parking lot as well as 3 decent compost toilets. There are no toilets along the canyon trail.

We did not take a look at the Havasupai Lodge but we heard from a woman who was staying there that they were super basic – no microwave, no refrigerator, and no tv (why would you need a tv in paradise?). But she said there were a few hibachis for cooking. If you choose to stay at the lodge, be aware that it is located in the village which is 2 miles from Havasu Falls.

So that adds an additional 4 miles roundtrip to any adventure you choose for the day. Beaver Falls becomes a 9 mile round-trip trek as opposed to the 5 miles that we walked from the campground.

There are 2 restaurants in the village, 2 grocery stores, and 1 post office. We ate at the restaurant that was just outside of the village on our way out, we had the Supai Cheeseburger and the Grande Nachos. Both were awesome. They also sell fry bread, hot dogs, and tacos at the entrance to the campground.

The campsites are first come, first served which I was rather concerned about on our hike in. I figured we would be late and stuck by the stinky bathrooms. Turns out there is plenty of room for everyone, so no reason to fret. We chose a spot across the river so we had to cross a pretty sketchy bridge at least twice daily but it was worth it to avoid being right next to the trail.

The campsite was really large and we put some inconspicuous gear on the picnic table one campsite over to look like people were considering camping there so we not only had amazing views but also plenty of privacy (again, shame on us!).

Camping at Havasu Falls, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

We did hear that during peak season, people are so packed in that they have to pitch their tent in the middle of the trail. But really, who cares? You don’t need to hang out there when surrounded by so much beauty.

Natural shower in Havasu Canyon by Wandering Wheatleys

We purchased a 4-gallon collapsible water container prior to the hike because we were a bit worried about how convenient the one natural spring would be to our campsite. Turns out it is super conveniently located and only a short walk from every campsite (maybe a 15 minute walk, max). So we probably didn’t actually need it but it was pretty convenient for washing dishes and for making our morning coffee.

The compost toilets in the campground are actually really nice and not at all stinky. They are conveniently located and well stocked with toilet paper (no need to bring your own).

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What to Pack for Havasu Falls

For the most part, we prepared for this hike exactly the way we prepare for every multi-day trek; backpacking tent2 sleeping bags, 2 sleeping pads, 2 inflatable pillows, lightweight cookware, onions, peppers, carrots, 3 pasta-ish meals… you get the point.

The only real differences were that we took a giant double-cherry floatie and a collapsible 15-liter water jug to carry water from the spring back to our campground. (As of 2019 pool floaties are no longer allowed at Havasu Falls – sad!)

We were also sure to bring twine to hang our food and garbage from a tree as we’d heard that the squirrels there are tiny terrors. And as it turns out, the rumors are true. We had our garbage rummaged through and our poor neighbors had a backpack chewed through. You can find our complete guide to packing for Havasu Falls here.

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Complete 2019 Packing List for Havasu Falls

What Should I do all day?

Honestly, no matter how many days you stay at Havasu Falls it will never feel like enough. You can make it as relaxing or adventurous as you want. We made the most of every day and arrived at the trailhead really early. Then, we started our hike at around 8:30 am, arrived by 12 pm, spent the afternoon swimming above Little Navajo Falls, and the evening enjoying Havasu Falls.

Bathing in Fifty Foot Falls, Havasu Canyon, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

We were up on day 2 at 7 am to get an early start hiking out to Beaver Falls. Then, we stopped a lot along the way for photos and then had the falls all to ourselves for an hour or so before the crowd arrived.

On day 3, we made our coffee by Havasu Falls and then locked down an ideal picnic table and lounged in our giant cherry floaty for most of the afternoon.

Floating beneath Havasu Falls, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

On day 4, we were back to the swimming holes around Little Navajo Falls and then had lunch in the village and started our trek back around 3:30 pm.

Floating at the top of Navajo Falls, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

It was a nice mix of strenuous activity and relaxation and was absolutely the perfect vacation.

Advice for Your First Time at Havasu Falls

Start your hike early on your way in, and later in the day on your way out. Spend every moment enjoying this unbelievable, spectacular setting. The hike out is exhausting so if you have the opportunity to split a mule with a few friends to carry your bags, take advantage of it. And stay for as long as you can! A full week, or two, or three. Or never return to real life…

Overlooking Havasu Falls, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

Hope you have an amazing trip to Havasu Falls!

Want more adventures in Northern Arizona? Check out our favorite travel guides!


17 thoughts on “Hike to Havasu Falls [2023]: How to get Permits, When to Go, What to Take”

  1. My son and I hiked in a rode horses out several years ago. This was the most amazing place we have ever visited. What I remember most about the hike in was the deep sand on the trail leading into Supai. It was brutal. This place is truly a bucket list experience and I recommend it to anyone.

  2. Hi! How was the weather in March? I just got reservations however am nervous about the conditions being too cold, rainy or murky!

    1. I don’t think you have to worry too much about rain at Havasu Falls even in March. It will be a bit on the cool side especially early in the morning and late in the day when much of the canyon is in the shadows. Still, it should be warm enough to swim during the middle part of the day. Plus the cooler weather will make the hike to Havasu Falls (and the hike back out) much more pleasant.

  3. We hiked in with all 50 lb packs. I would rent a mule next time!! We camped at your same location. #sketchybridge We rode the helicopter out and I thought that was a cheep and awesome way out and I got to cross two things off my bucket list. Havasupi and riding in a helicopter. I still would have hiked out early because of our long drive home!! I’m sad to hear you can’t have floaties anymore. I slept on one that someone had left because my deluxe $100 one, wouldn’t hold air!

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