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How to get Havasupai permits + more tips

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Updated January 16, 2019 with new reservation information!

Planning a Havasu Falls trip with kids

havasupai-falls-trip-planning-with-kids

Preparing to see Havasupai with your family? Start planning one year out, and you will have the trip of a lifetime! (Pssst... go with another family - your kids will love the long hike then!)

Pick your dates a year before

Know in your mind when you want to go and block it off on your calendar with bold stars and glitter. Or whatever you have handy.

Know your dates but also have some flexibility on either side. For example, we had a 10 day spring break from March 23 through April 1. We needed a day or two for the long road trip from Colorado. And with 4 parents and 6 kids, we wanted to camp down there for the 3 nights maximum (per permit). So we aimed for reserving 3 nights over the March 25-30 timeframe to allow time to drive back home too.

Know the weather. It is H-O-T in the canyon in the summer months, and July and August are monsoon season, which means flash flooding can occur. March, April, October, and November appear to be the most desirable, and therefore more difficult to obtain permits if you don’t plan ahead.

Know what you are getting into and any risk involved. Be wise and be informed. The Havasupai Tribe offers plenty of good information here.

Be physically prepared. Remember, it is 10 miles hiking down to the campground, then 10 mile hike back up and out. If you want to see firsthand the hiking and climbing that is involved, check out our photo journal here.

New for 2019!

Create your Havasupai Reservations account NOW to reduce stress on Opening Day!

According to an official Havasupai Reservations email:

“If you would like to visit Havasupai and Havasu Falls in 2019, you will first need to create an account on HavasupaiReservations.com - and setting up an account NOW will greatly reduce your stress on Opening Day!”

This way you’ll be ready to go on February 1. Keep reading below to understand just how creating your account today will reduce stress in your life!

how-to-hike-to-havasu-falls

How to get your mandatory Havasupai reservations and permits

how-to-make-havasupai-reservations

Your Lodge or campground reservation = your hiking permit for Havasupai. They are one and the same and can’t be booked separately.

There are companies that offer to guide you down the canyon and offer pre-set up campsites and cooked meals. That’s cool, I guess, if you don’t mind spending 6X more than you need to and you like to be pampered on outdoor adventure vacations.

And you guys, it is one trail down and the same trail back up. And unless you can’t pay attention for the life of you, it is tough to get lost. If you don’t own camping gear, then aim for staying at the Lodge, or borrow gear from friends if you can.

If you do not reserve a room in the Lodge or a campsite, you are not allowed down at Havasu Falls, because you won’t have a permit. Period. Day hiking down there and back, a 20+ miles round trip, is strongly discouraged! I’m not even sure it’s allowed.

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So booking your campground or Lodge reservations IS the most important task, because it equals your permit to be a GUEST on the Havasupai Tribe’s Reservation.

NOTE: When you check in at the Lodge or Tourist Check-in Office in the Village of Supai, they will put a bracelet on your arm stating your name and the dates you are allowed down there. If you get caught down there without a permit, you will be subject to a large fine and possibly kicked off the reservation at your own expense.

How to reserve a room at the Supai Lodge

The Lodge is 8 miles down, located in the village of Supai. The waterfalls are 2 miles past the Lodge and the village.

BE READY to call on June 1 at 8 am MST!

Lodge reservations can be made starting on June 1, 2019 for all of 2020 reservations. At this time, all Lodge reservations must be made via telephone. To make reservations please call: (928) 448-2111 or (928) 448-2201. Learn more here.

In my opinion, the Lodge is simple and clean, but nothing fancy. It’s only special if you despise camping. Supposedly, they recently updated the Lodge in 2018.

As of December 5, 2018, room rates were listed as follows and are subject to change:

Lodge Room Rate $ 175.00* per night, 
Rooms accommodate up to 4 persons (and no more!) 
Deposit $60.50 per room/ per night 
Additional entrance fee of $90.00* per person will be charged upon arrival

how-to-reserve-havasupai-campground-spots

How to reserve spots at Havasu Falls Campground

BE READY to get online or call on February 1 at 8 am MST.

Campground spots can be reserved by phone or online on February 1, 2019 for February 1 through November 30, 2019 reservations. The campground is closed in December and January.

2019 Campground Reservations will be available online at HavasupaiReservations.com on February 1, 2019 8:00 AM MST.

NEW IN 2019: create your account today on HavasupaiReservations.com and reduce stress on February 1.

Spots available on the online reservation system literally disappeared within about 15-30 minutes when we called on February 1. Be forewarned and be flexible. Social media has made this a very popular destination.

Starting on February 1, you can also try reserving camp spots by phone from 9 A.M. - 3 P.M. Monday through Friday:

(928) 448-2180 or (928) 448-2237 
(928) 448-2141 or (928) 448-2121*

*NOTE: They do not have call waiting or a voicemail system in place. The lines will likely be busy and you will have to call over and over. We literally called well over 1,000 times. We did not get through until 3 weeks after February 1! You can call the same above numbers before February 1 to ask questions and get information.

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As of December 5, 2018, Campground pricing listed on the official Havasupai Tribe website includes ALL necessary permits, fees, and taxes (subject to change):
One Person, 2 Days / 1 Night: $140.56
One Person, 3 Days / 2 Nights: $171.12
One Person, 4 Days / 3 Nights: $201.67

NOTE: Weekend nights, Holiday weekday nights, and Spring Break weekday nights are an additional $18.34 per person / per night.

We recommend camping 3 nights to take in this divinely gorgeous part of the world. You will hike down 8 miles and then check in at the Tourist Check-in Office in the Village of Supai before hiking 2 more miles to the campground.

mooney-falls-spring-break-with-kids

Where to stay before and after your Havasupai trip

Choose where you will lodge the night before you hike down. Some people sleep in their car at the trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop, but no thank you! We suggest staying overnight about an hour’s drive from the trailhead at the Hualapai Lodge on Route 66 in Peach Springs, AZ.

Also, plan your lodging for the night you hike out. We loved the newly updated Rodeway Inn & Suites Downtowner - Rte 66 in Williams, Arizona. Plus, Williams has fantastic places for dinner to celebrate your adventure!

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Packing for Havasupai

Start narrowing down what you will pack about 2-3 months before your trip.

NOTE: The following is illegal on the reservation: Alcohol, Drugs, Drones, and Weapons. Leave it all at home.

Grab your free packing list here.

About Packing Food

As a rule of thumb, you can figure on using 2 lbs of food per person per day. Pack plenty of snacks for the hike down. There is a very pricey trading post in the village if you need to replenish your food stash.

There is also a super yummy Indian Fry Bread Hut at the beginning of the campground. Try it for one of your dinners, you’ll like it!

frybread-hut

In a nutshell, here are some great food items that pack well in one of your 32.5 lb bags: bagels, packaged oatmeal, trail mix, gummy bears, peanut butter, jam, granola bars, cereal bars, pepperonis, crackers, cheese, tortillas, canned tuna, rice, head of broccoli, canned chicken, Ramen, MREs, oranges, apples, raisins, nuts, hot cocoa, coffee, tea, and powdered milk… you get the picture. Bring a jet boil; no fires allowed in the campground.

tagging-bags-for-mules-to-carry

Reserve mules 7-10 days before Day 1 of your hike. While controversial for some, we chose to hire 3 mules to carry all our camping gear and food for two families totaling 12 people ages 9 to 47. Our stuff went into large backpacks and duffel bags and then onto the mules.

Each mule carried a max of 4 bags at 32.5 pounds each. We carefully weighed and packed each bag evenly. You can also take a cooler. Here's the one legit way to hire mules. We averaged one bag per person for food and gear, so 12 people =12 bags. We hired 3 mules for our trip.

You drop your bags and have them checked and tagged at Hualapai Hilltop, where the trailhead begins.

Get your body ready for the hike down to Havasupai!

Again, know what you're getting yourself and your people into! The long hike down and up, plus the tricky descent down slippery, sandy ladders and chains to Mooney Falls.

See our photo journal here to get an idea of what the hike is really like with kids.

Everyone in your group should be physically prepared for this trip. Before your trip, everyone should be walking, running, biking, climbing stairs, and hiking A LOT, as well as lunging and squatting to prepare your legs. Don’t skimp on this!

girl-hiking-out-havasupai-trail

The week before you go:

  • Print out your Havasupai reservation! You must have this in hand!

  • Pack each bag up to 32.5 pounds each. See our complete pack list here.

  • Pack your daypack with snacks/layers/water reservoir.

  • Pack a bag of just your hiking clothes needed the morning of the hike down.

  • Look at the weather again and make sure you have what you need. (We had a cold spell come through and typically 70 degree days became 55-60 degree afternoons!)

The night before you go:

  • Lay out outfit

  • Double check your day pack and water supply. There are no water spigots while hiking on the way down or back up! There is one water spigot at the campground.

  • Make a plan for when to start hiking down from Hualapai Hilltop. Set 2 alarms to park your car and reach the trailhead in time to leave and tag your packs for the mules if you hired them. They will have told you what time to check, tag, and drop your bags.

hiking-out-havasupai

Above all else, adhere to all rules and suggestions given by the Havasupai Indians. You are their guest and it is a privilege to step onto their beautiful land.

Please feel free to reach out to me (tanya@radfamilytravel.com) and ask me any questions! HAVE FUN!

*Helicopters rides are offered daily down to Havasupai, weather permitting. $85 each way with one medium sized backpack (20-40 lbs.) The flight leaves from Hualapai Hilltop, and drops you off in Supai Village 2 miles from Havasu Falls Campground. The helicopters are first come first serve, and the flight is less than 10 minutes. Airwest Helicopters is the contracted helicopter service. Contact Airwest Helicopters at 1-623-516-2790 to find out more information! The helicopter leaves from Supai Village and villagers, contractors, etc. have first dibs. You could wait in line all day to catch a ride out.