Havasu Falls Do’s & Dont’s: Tips for a Successful Hike

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Headed to Havasu Falls? Here's a list of Do's & Don'ts with helpful tips and advice to ensure a successful Havasupai camping trip.

Havasu Falls Do’s and Dont’s: Tips for a Successful Hike

There is no question about it, next time I visit Havasu Falls I am going for a full week. It is an absolutely magical destination and incredible spot to set up camp for a full week of exploring. With that being said you want to make sure you are prepared for the hike to the falls. Here’s a full list of do’s and don’ts to complement our other Havasu Falls posts.

DON’T show up without a permit.

We were checked by rangers three times on our hike down, and there were signs warning against hiking without a permit. If you do show up without a camping reservation, expect to pay double (if they even let you stay), and don’t think you’ll just be able to sneak in. Want to know the details of the permit process? Check out our detailed Havasu Falls Camping Guide.

DON’T overpack

The hike out, especially when it’s hot out, is a bit of a doozy, and the lighter your pack, the more you’ll be able to enjoy it. Horses are $120 and can carry up to 4 bags. If you choose to use a horse, be aware that there have been a lot of reports of horses being malnourished and overworked. Alternatively, a helicopter is $85 a person, but locals have first dibs so you could be waiting for several hours before you can catch a ride. Reservations can be made for either at the camping office in town.

DON’T camp where you aren’t supposed to

I’ve seen some Instagram posts recently of people camping and tents just to the lookers right of Mooney Falls on the edge (where I’m sitting in the picture below). There is a picnic table there, but it is for day-use only so people can eat lunch and hang out and enjoy the view. This is not a camping spot. You are only allowed to camp from the campground entrance to campground’s final bathroom. Anywhere in between those spots is free game.

DO be nice to the locals.

The Havasupai people don’t have to let us visit these falls. Recognize that we are visitors, be respectful of the rules and their land, and be friendly, just as they are to us.

DO pack out your trash.

There are signs everywhere that ask you to pack out your trash. Don’t be lazy and leave your food or any other trash at the campsites or in the restrooms. Animals can easily get into the trash and spread it all over the campground, littering this beautiful place with your Mountain House leftovers.

DON’T leave your punctured float toys at the bottom of the falls.

When we were there, there were at least 5 damaged float toys sitting at the base of Mooney Falls. Please don’t leave this place looking like an wild and abandoned spring break destination.

DO bring water shoes.

If you plan on swimming at all or hiking down to Beaver Falls which requires several stream crossings, you’ll want a pair of shoes that you can get wet. For a full gear list, stay tuned for my Havasu Falls packing guide.

DO go swimming.

If the weather allows, don’t miss out on swimming in the best swimming holes on the planet. You’ll regret once you leave.

DON’T leave food out at camp.

The squirrels are incredibly smart at Havasu Falls.  You’ll want to bring some paracord and a bag to tie your food up high off the ground from a tree, not too close to the tree trunk. We saw squirrels jumping over a foot or two off of the ground onto people’s bags and ate right through their backpacks to get to the food inside. Even better, if you have a bear canister, bring that as the most fool-proof way to keep those buggers out of your food.

 DO check the weather.

We visited in Havasu Falls and on the second day of our trip, it rained the entire day. Luckily we checked the weather beforehand and came with the appropriate gear, including a tarp that we rigged up over our picnic table. Without, it could have been a very miserable day.

DO bring a camera, but leave the drone at home

Havasu Falls is an photo paradise. It’s literally impossible to take a bad photo and it’s a great place to practice if you want to improve your camera skills. There are also plenty of places to stash your camera so it doesn’t get wet, or you can store it in a small dry sack to be safe.

As far as drones….drone are not allowed on the Havasupai reservation. I packed my drone down there unknowingly and didn’t see the sign until we arrived at the campground. So it stayed in my pack. I’ll say it does make sense. There’s a ton of people, and drones are loud and disturb the peace. And if one person gets some sick drone footage, all of a sudden, everyone is going to be down there with one. So do as they say and leave the drone at home.

 DON’T attempt to day hike.

Havasu Falls is 10 miles from the trailhead. I’ve had many people ask if they can day hike if they are unable to secure an overnight permit. First, there are signs everywhere saying no day hiking is allowed. Further, it seems way too far to try to tackle the roundtrip hike and still have time to actually enjoy the falls. Take a rain check, keep trying a for a permit and visit when you have more time.

DON’T drive to the trailhead at night, if possible.

We saw dozens of huge elk off the side of the road, and some even in the middle of the road. We had to be on full alert the entire 60 miles in order to avoid hitting something.

DO bring a hammock.

There are tons of trees and riverside swinging spots that are perfect for an afternoon hammock nap.

DO be a good neighbor.

The campground is busy, and you’ll likely be within eye and ear sight of your neighbors. So don’t be a jerk and yell all night at your campsite, like our neighbors were.

DON’T bring alcohol.

Alcohol is not allowed for anyone, locals or visitors, on the Havasupai reservation. When we were there our neighbors not only disobeyed the rules, but were yelling “drink, drink, drink” which was subsequently heard by every single camper in the canyon. Be respectful of the law and the people.

DO hike to Beaver Falls.

Once you get down to Mooney Falls, the trail is mostly flat and just gets prettier the further down you go. There’s gorgeous secluded swimming holes around every corner and worth the effort it takes to get there.

DON’T be afraid if you’ve never been camping.

Havasu Falls is a great introduction to backpacking. There are clean bathrooms, safe drinking water, and beautiful photos ops everywhere. If you run out of food you can always head up to the village and purchase stuff at the grocery store. Basically, having the village there provides a small safety net.

DON’T hike out in the heat of the day.

The climb out is entirely west-facing with very little shade. Either get up and leave early in the morning, or stay and enjoy the falls and hike out in the early evening with your headlamps ready.

What are your Havasu Falls Do’s and Don’ts? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

There are 11 comments on this post.

About the author

Hi! I'm Kristen....blogger, hiker, sunset-watcher, and dance floor shredder. I feel most alive in the outdoors and created this website to help you enjoy the best that the West has to offer.

11 Comments on “Havasu Falls Do’s & Dont’s: Tips for a Successful Hike

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  1. I would suggest the Outsak bags instead of a bear can for food storage. They are lighter than the bear cans and more packable. Bear cans are, well, for bear problems. The Outsaks work great when you are just dealing with rodents, ring-tailed cats and deer in places like Grand Canyon and Havasupai Canyon.

    Side note: Raccoons will figure out how to open Outsaks! Crafty little critters. Back to the bear can if these are in your camping area.

    Havasu Falls! Perfect for our wedding anniversary coming up this June! The tips for what to do and what NOT to do are withut a doubt the best instructions ever! I am so impressed with your knowledge of this area and appreciative of you sharing the do’s and don’t’s. Your writings make me want to go more than ever!

    This is on my list for next year! Thank you for writing this guide since I had no clue what to expect or where to even start!

    Don’t take a September slot if you have other options. Monsoon season. Do go in October, though. Perfect weather. Even if you can’t get a permit on your first attempt, do keep trying often. Slots do open up and timing is everything.

    Unfortunately when we called this year, they only allowed for anyone to reserve one night for the campground. How would you stay for a week? Do they let you extend your stay once you are there?

      They allow more than one night. The dates you requested were most likely full which is probably why they told you that.

        Good to know. I hadn’t even given a desired date when I called in February. The person answered the phone with, “We are only taking single night campground reservations.” I had assumed that was what they decided to do for the whole season. We’ll have to try calling back. Perhaps there will be some cancellations.

    Kristen,

    I don’t know why I waited so long to reach out to you for your help. Havasu Falls is one of the most amazing places on this planet. I hope your do’s and don’ts give people confidence to go, even if they are not experienced hikers or campers.

    Before I went last fall, I had read on many blogs about the sad state of garbage along the trail. It is indeed heartbreaking. And I was prepared for it, so I had packed an extra 13gal kitchen bag to pick up what I could on the way back out. That’s certainly not a lot, but as I said, I had been warned. Most of what I’d picked up were empty soda bottles and junk food wrappers…it’s obvious how that trash landed. In any event, if every hiker picked up just a handful of trash – it’s not particularly gross – I’m certain a small dent could be made to lessen this unfortunate state.

    With your reach of loyal and enthusiastic followers, would you feel comfortable addressing this? And asking those headed there if they’d pack out one or two things in addition to their own waste? I only thought of this now after seeing the flowe power tag. I couldn’t agree more.

    Thanks for your consideration, and THANKS for your Bearfoot Theory. I discovered you while googling around before JMT hike several years ago. You are the best. I work from time to time in Deer Valley and bet I’ll run into you one of these days.

      I talk about trash a lot on here, and will continue to make a point of it. Thanks for making a big effort to help clean up the trail to Havasu Falls.

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