Havasu Falls and its just as breathtaking sister falls are not technically within the Grand Canyon National Park’s boundaries. The falls are located on the Havasupai [meaning people of the blue-green waters] Indian Reservation and are not accessible by road.
It’s a long 10-mile hike or saddle ride down and permits, entrance fees and environmental uses fees are required by the reservation. Day hikes are not permitted, so you need to secure lodging at the hotel on site or in the campground in advance. Reservations must be made online only (in the past, you could make reservations via phone). Learn more at theofficialhavasupaitribe.com
Options to get to the falls include helicopter access. You can also ride in on horseback, or hire a mule to carry your load while you walk in front of it. Operations were suspended in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19. The dates of the 2021 permit lottery are still to be determined. Please check for updates at www.havasupaireservations.com
In the past, most visitors hiked the long trail with an authorized hiking guide such as Wildland Trekking (www.wildlandtrekking.com). In 2019, however, the Havasupai tribe did not issue permits for commercial guides. It announced it wanted to give control over access to the tribe members who would re-evaluate the decision. This means until further notice, you’ll have to forgo a commercial guide and make all reservations directly with the tribe.
The prize is worth it, though. These are truly spectacular waterfalls.
To get to the trailhead, which start at Havasupai Village, travel the historic Route 66, north of Interstate 40 in northwestern Arizona. Heading east, about 7 miles past Peach Springs, turn left on Indian Service Road 18. Continue for approximately 60 miles to the trailhead located at Hualapai Hilltop.
IMPORTANT NOTE: From here, it’s a 10-mile hike to Havasupai Village, where all of the following waterfall hikes originate. If you’re traveling from the east, take Exit 123 off I-40 at Seligman and drive 33 miles west on Highway 66 to Indian Road 18 before continuing north for 68 miles. (NOTE: There are no services along Indian Road 18, so plan accordingly.)
There is a campground located between Navajo Falls and Mooney Falls, that is first-come, first-serve, able to host up to 300 people.
The first of the wonderful waterfalls in this region is Navajo Falls, a 75-foot-high waterfall discovered after a 9.5-mile hike from Hualapi Hilltop. This is a pretty waterfall that plunges into a great swimming hole. The water temperature is about 70 degrees. If you’re not into hiking, you can take a helicopter from Tusayan, near the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, or ride a horse or walk with a mule that carries your gear to the waterfalls in this area. (Located 1 mile from the campground located between Havasu and Mooney falls.)
Add a half-mile to the Navajo Falls hike, for a total of about 10-mile hike, and you’ll see the splendor of the 100-foot-high Havasu Falls, also often referred to as Havasupai Falls. This waterfall is famous thanks to all the photos and videos you see capturing its blue-green beauty. It is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the world, and it’s no wonder it is. It’s a spectacular waterfall and offers a great retreat from the heat in the form of a swimming hole. Certainly this has got to be one of the most scenic swimming holes in the world.
Mooney Falls is about 11-12 miles from Hualapai Hilltop. This waterfall is tall, as in 200 feet tall, and is named for a drunken cowboy who fell to his death here.