Waterfalls in the Desert – Havasu Falls

To imagine beautiful images of clear blue-green waterfalls in the middle of red rock valleys and dry desert, it was like a dream. We had no idea how we would get to Havasu Falls. Apparently, you have to book 5 months in advance because of limited space and the Natives are strict to let people in. With our luck, we posted on a Backpackers Facebook group and found extra spots from another person’s reservation. This is a community helping preserve, respect and share the love of this beautiful oasis. You can find posts on people who have extra spaces in reservations, or you can post about spots you need.

WARNING: You CANNOT day hike this trip. You have to carry your whole pack with food, water, shelter, and necessities. This is why you need to reserve to camp.

You should stay at minimum 2 nights because the first day you will be exhausted. It takes 8 miles with switchbacks for about 2 miles downhill and open valley for the rest of the 5 miles to get to Havasupai Indian Reservation. Once you register in the little town, there is ANOTHER 2 miles to the campgrounds slightly uphill. On average it takes people 5 hours, we took about 4 hours with a good pace, but my legs and body were absolutely destroyed.

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You can see me visibly upset, tired and hungry, especially because we reached the town and we knew there was another two miles to campground. There are options to rent a mule and get lodging as well. More info here.

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It feels like hobbit land for a bit in the town. To camp it costs $35/person/night. We stayed two nights and three days. I recommend up to 4 days if you have a larger group. In the case, you’re more than two people I think its worth looking into a pack mule to bring your stuff down and up, BUT plan to get there early to check in on this service. It is a bit overpriced I think ($80 I believe).

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This is Havasu Falls which is right near campground. After a lot of rain, the water is not as clear as the mud runs into the stream.

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During rainy/typhoon season, the area will flood. You’ll see picnic tables that were once above ground submerged, and evacuations are frequent for low ground campers.

TIP: Stay high ground when choosing your camp spot to avoid being awoken in the middle of the night during a storm!

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This photo doesn’t capture the freezing temperature of the water while feeling the hot desert sun. Worth every moment.

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Take a 30-min light hike, you’ll get to Mooney falls. Highly recommend bringing hiking shoes that can get wet, or good water shoes for hiking and wading water so you can explore the whole area.

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To get to Mooney falls, there is a little cave to crawl through, then you shimmy down ropes and ladders the rest of the way down. Bring a rain jacket if you mind being soaked.

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This is not for anyone afraid of heights or small spaces, but its worth it!

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Bring some biodegradable soap and this is the strongest shower head you can get.

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Mooney falls with Josefine and I for scale.

TIP: After Mooney falls, you can hike for another 45 min (2 miles) to get to Beaver falls. You will need gear/clothing to wade through a river if you are going to attempt. Don’t bring anything you want to keep dry, or make sure they are water proofed/can be carried above your head.

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Rock falls is actually the first falls you pass by on the hike to the village.

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If you’re brave, you can jump off the waterfall into the water and hike back up to do it again!

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Rock falls with me for scale.

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We were not prepared with water shoes, so we passed on the jump.

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No worries, there is more than enough room to sunbathe.

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Rest your feet and legs in the cold water after long days of hiking is the most therapeutic feeling.

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Having snacks while we dry off from swimming. After this last hike, we headed back to make dinner before sunset and the crazy typhoon gusts to come in at night. Next day planned to be up and on the road again by 6 AM.

TIP: During summer, ALWAYS hike during the early morning. Best to avoid the blistering sun. Trust me, I was not used to the altitude and the uphill return is already difficult enough, so no need to battle the heat. We also noticed at late afternoon/night rain clouds would come in and gusts would make the hike much more difficult.

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Took one last proud shot making it uphill from the switchbacks with our full packs. Josefine carried more of the weight than me. She’s a fucking trouper. I was about to pass out. My calves were bursting.

Seriously, bring snacks, a lot of water and plan this hike well so you don’t get caught in bad conditions. Well worth the experience to get to see this oasis!

Happy hiking!

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