If you’re one tad bit into traveling and hiking, then you most definitely have come across the pictures of this beautiful oasis, tucked in part of the Grand Canyon, called Havasupai. I was lucky enough to be able to visit this magical place last year in August and here I have round up 10 things that you need to know if you’re planning to visit Havasupai this year. This article reflects the new 2017 pricing and rules.
1. Mark February 1st in your calendars
Reservation are being accepted starting Feb 1st by their phone reservation line. It’s extremely hard to obtain camping permits due to the limited permits available each day-the tribe would like to keep this beautiful oasis still sort of secluded- so spots fill up months in advance. So, if there is a specific date-especially if you want to go on a long weekend-, make sure you call NOW and book your spot. They have 4 different phone lines: (928) 448-2180, 2121, 2141 or 2237.
2. Have your credit card on hand when you call
Unlike previous years, the Havasupai tribe has decided to require payment upfront when the reservation is made, rather than hiking to bottom of the canyon to pay. This was decided to limit no-shows and make the whole ‘checking in’ process faster. They accept Visa and MasterCard as a form of payment and there will be no refunds and no transfers allowed. Also, keep in mind only one credit card is allowed per group.
3. Check your emails, Instagram, Facebook, snapchat, and … 30 min before arriving at the hilltop
You won’t have any phone service from 30 minutes out to the hilltop, so do what you need to do, text you family and friends that you will be off the grid or what not. Your phone is pretty much obsolete once you get down there, unless you use it to take pictures. In that case, don’t forget to take a portable battery charger.
4. So how much does it even cost?
I’m glad I could visit Havasupai last year, because I saved in fees! The Havasupai tribe has decided to increase the price tag to obtain a permit, which means the entrance fee will be $50, up from $35 last year. Camping fee per night is $25 per person per night, unlike $17 last year. The environmental fee has doubled to $10/person. Lastly, there is a 10% tax applicable to all fees. So this means, if you’re planning to visit for 2 nights it would cost you $121/person to camp for 2 nights! It’s up there for a camping trip but I would still say it’s worth the energy these canyons, and magical waterfalls radiate.
5. Make sure you have the appropriate footwear
If I were to give one advice on what not to budge on during this trip, I would say a pair of proper, sturdy, broken in hiking shoes! The hike is full of switchbacks with lose pebbles, small rocks, and sand so trust me when I say you don’t want to do this hike on Nikes! Because I did it and I had blisters all over! Also, bring a pair of water shoes with you, even if they’re the cheap kinds. The river is quite slippery so having water shoes is going to help you aaa lottt during day hikes when you have to cross rivers or hike through rivers.
6. Camp at the Havasupai hilltop the night before your hike in
You’d want to start your hike early in the morning to avoid the blazing sun beaming at you while you’re carrying 40-50 pounds of weight in your backpack. We started our hike at 5AM and it was great, because by the time it was getting hot we had already reached the first fall, Havasu waterfall.
7. Don’t overpack water
We were not sure if there would be water supply at the campground so we each took about 3-4 liters of water with us. Turns out, there is water at the campground for consumption and we carried that weight in our backpack for nothing. I used just under 2 liters of water on the way in and I drank a lot! Don’t make your weight heavy for no reason. Also, once you hike in 8 miles there is a tiny convenience store that sells everything from ice cream to frozen foods so if you forgot something, you still have a chance to get it at this points. Obviously, you will pay a premium price for it down there.
8. Don’t forget to take a hammock with you
Havasupai is a hammock oasis. And nothing feels better after a day of hiking than taking a nap and unwinding while rocking back and forth on a hammock. Take one with you, you will be glad you did.
9. Have a day pack
Other than the big backpack you will hike in with, do bring a small day pack with you as well. Hiking in to the campground is only half the battle…the fun begins once you setup the campsite and go on an adventure to discover all the falls. Some of these adventures might get really long because it will be so beautiful that you won’t want to turn out and get back, so bring a day pack and pack some snacks and water with you for the day.
10. Do hike further down to Beaver Falls
It’s hard to pick only one of the falls as a favorite, but one thing I can say for sure is don’t miss hiking to Beaver Falls. It’s about 3.5 miles down from the campground and you hike through the most amazing forest and rivers to get there. If you hike down even further you get to Havasu creek.
P.S. do you know what Havasupai means? Havasu means “blue-green water” and pai is “people”. - J