There are certain place they say you should visit at least once in your lifetime, and I was able to experience one of them this past weekend. Havasupai, AZ. When you hear about this place, there are usually many questions asked- how tough is the hike? is it really worth it? how do you get there? how do you plan? Well, trust me- all 35 of us felt exactly the same way, and luckily we were able to experience this earlier in the year, I will share our experience so that you will be ready for this amazing trip.
Havasupai camping ground reservation starts at 7am on February 1st every year. Don’t take your time though, they fill up right away. There were about 20+ of us trying to get hold of the line but unfortunately we didn’t even get thru. Luckily Havasupai started doing online reservations this year and we were able to get few camp grounds for ourselves! (Thanks to my friend Sharon <3) You can call numbers 928-448-2121, or 928-448-2111. Online reservations are unavailable currently due to high volume of requests, but you can find them on http://theofficialhavasupaitribe.com/
*Few weeks before: PREPPING – PHYSICALLY*
The hikes for this trip is hard. Not EXTREME, but hard. If you are not into fitness and do not work out/run regularly, I would definitely recommend you to start at least a month before the trip- if you would work out daily that is. The hike is 10 miles total ONE way: 8 miles from your car to the village (to check in) and another 2 miles to campsite. Not only that, you are expected to hike about 8-10 miles if you want to spend time at other falls as well. These hiking trails are not easy, and they are not on flat grounds. You will be hiking on rocks and sands mostly. One note!! On the way to campsite is downhill, & the way back up is going uphill. Also the last 2 miles is all uphill, not to mention switchback the whole way.
*Few weeks before: PREPPING – WHAT TO GET*
- Backpacking bag – getting a bag fitted to your size is VERY IMPORTANT. Most people will just simply go on to amazon and buy … whatever size you think you are. Trust me, getting my daypack fitted was probably one of the best things I did for this. AND its free at REI to get fitted! It is better to know what exactly size you need before buying, or ordering online.
- your bag should be 30% or less than your body weight!
- Order all of your stuff few weeks before. Do not wait until last minute. You may need to return, re-purchase, and compare with your group on what you should bring and what you shouldn’t bring.
*1 week before*
- Call Havasupai and reserve your mule. Especially if you are not an experienced hiker. Out of 35 of our group, on the way down majority of us carried our bags like a champ (not me tho…but I did carry my daypack! :)) but on the way back, only few of us hiked back with our stuff, few hiked back with mules carrying our bags, and majority last minute decided to helicopter back.
- Mule: $120 one-way. They can carry up to 4 bags – has to be 40lbs or less. The mule will carry your bag from TOP of the hill to CAMPSITE. This honestly is the best option.
- My group met up a week before to test out our bags & the hike. It was really worth it because half of the group ended up calling for mules & had to switch out their bags to that it fit them correctly.
*LIST OF THINGS TO BRING*
This is a backpacking trip where you are responsible for everything (except drinkable water) and you are also responsible to bring everything back, including your trash. Please note that I reserved a mule to carry my duffle bag. If you are daring and don’t need to mule or use a helicopter, then you will need to get a backpacking bag. Here is what I packed:
- Day Pack: Light lunch, 2L water in hydration bladder, 1 bottle of gatorade, snacks (KindBars, Beef Jerky, etc), bug spray, chapstick, sun block, sunglasses, phone, bandana and jacket. – I did not have anything to carry in my arms/hands the whole trip.
- Duffle bag (everything else): Light sleeping bag (down sleeping bag), light sleeping pad, microfiber towel, flashlight, lightweight cookware, fuel, water shoes, sunscreen, first aid kit swim suit, clothes for the weekend, portable charger, large zip lock bags (for trash back), toiletries, makeup, hand sanitizer, tissues, biodegradable soap, ear plugs, heavier jacket, lots of bandaids.
- optional that I did not bring: wet suit, hammock, water filter (they have water there), trekking poles (this you may need if you are not experienced), go pro, etc. things that you want to bring, not need to bring.
*My days at HAVASUPAI*
- Friday: We arrive at hilltop at 6am, waited for everyone to arrive and started hiking down. Switchbacks all the way down for about 2 miles. Then you hike 6 miles to the village. Check in/get wrist bands then hike 2 more miles to your campsite (total 10 miles). We arrived at the campsite around 1pm. Campsite there are first come first serv. We waited for the mules to bring our stuff down and once we got it we built our own village 🙂 After setting up our tents we enjoyed the rest of the night at Havasupai Falls and had dinner. Late night = stargazing at Mooney Falls (about 1 mile away).
- My meal for dinner: Spagehtti & Meatballs (don’t use too much water… that was my mistake and mine tasted like Spaghetti O’s.)
- Saturday: Wake up at 6am, get ready and hike to Mooney Falls. (MAKE SURE TO WEAR YOUR WATER SHOES THE WHOLE DAY!) Mooney Falls is only about 1 mile away, but you have to rope down/climb down from top of hill to bottom. If you are scared of heights, well… I guess you will get over your fear! Then we spend few hours at Mooney Falls playing in the water, snacked and walked over to Beaver Falls. Beaver Falls is about 3 miles away from Mooney Falls (so that’s 6 miles round trip). This hike is rather difficult, you are going to be crossing the river back and forth and that is why wearing water shoes is very important. If you wear hiking shoes and carry your water shoes, you will have to switch back and forth many times. After arriving at Beaver Falls, we grabbed late lunch and left the are around 4pm so that we were able to get back to campsite before it got dark (remember you have to climb back up to the hill at Mooney Falls! there is only one way down and one way up).
- Breakfast: Ramen noodle (it was cold and I needed a heavier breakfast for the day!) & instant coffee
- Lunch: Mac & Cheese + lots of beef jerky (just snacked the whole day)
- Dinner: Beef Stroganoff – this one honestly tasted the best!!
- Sunday: Wake up at 5am. Pack up drop stuff off at mules, eat breakfast & head out earliest possible since you won’t want to hike back in the heat. We started at 6am and hiked back and got back around 330pm. It took longer because we were physically drained & the heat was scorching on top of us. The hike back is very difficult, especially the last 2 miles when it is switchback all uphill. But if you put your mind to it, you can do it!!
- Mules: although they say drop off your stuff by 10am, the village people like to have your stuff as early as possible. We gave them our stuff at 7am and asked us to bring everything ASAP.
- Helicopter: So if you would like to ride back in the helicopter, you will need $80 cash and will need to line up at the village (2 miles away from the campsite) as EARLY as possible. My group went at 5-6am to line up. The helicopter doesnt start taking people until 10am, but there is only 1 helicopter and its first come first serv. If you don’t get in line fast enough, they may not take you if its too late.
- ALSO! you can cargo your bag for $20- only downfall is you have to make sure you pay that cash and your stuff gets in.
Well, this is one of my longest blog, but I really wanted to share my experience with you guys in detail. I want to give my #DDNC (Day Dreamers, Night Crawlers) a shoutout for making this trip possible. & of course Sharon for organizing for all 35 of us!!! Havasupai is a hard hike/trip, but when you hear that it is worth it, the struggle really was all worth it. Hope one day all of you guys can make it out and experience what I have, if not better.(ALSO major picture credits to everyone who captured many moments from this trip!)
all for now,