The 5 Amazing Waterfalls of Havasu Canyon

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The 5 Amazing Waterfalls of Havasu Canyon

Everyone talks about the Grand Canyon. Rafting it. Hiking it. Photographing it. As the widest canyon in the country and the holy grail of whitewater, it’s certainly magnificent. However, just a short distance from the South Rim is an offshoot of the Grand and tributary of the Colorado River called Havasu Canyon which is just as worthy of the attention, but for a completely different reason.

Havasu Canyon is home to the Havasupai Indian Tribe of Arizona, whose name is translated to “people of the blue green water.” This name comes from the color of the creamy aquamarine, spring-fed river here that is result of heavy limestone deposits in the cliffs that line Havasu Canyon. It’s like an otherwordly turquoise oasis magically placed in the middle of the desert. Honestly, this place seems to defy nature.

The most famous waterfall of Havasu Canyon is Havasu Falls, the namesake, and this is the one most easily recognized in photos online. But what most people don’t know is that Havasu Falls is just one of the 5 crazy big waterfalls of Havasu Canyon, all of which are that incredible teal and swimmable, and have an average temperature of 60-70 degrees throughout the year. On most trails, you’d be super stoked just to get a glimpse of one of these, but here at Havasupai, it’s the ultimate water park for nature lovers.

In this post, I give you the scoop on these 5 waterfalls of Havasu Canyon, along with some of my favorite photos from my trip. If you want more info on the trail, camping, permits, directions, and other logistics, see my Havasu Falls Camping Guide.

Map of the Waterfalls on the Havasupai Reservation

Map of the 5 Waterfalls of Havasu Canyon on Arizona's Havasupai Indian Reservation

1) FIFTY FOOT FALLS

Fifty Foot Falls is located about 8.5 miles from the trailhead and a mile or so past Supai village. When we got here, we were tempted to keep going. We thought we’d go find a campsite in the campground, drop our bags, and then go hang out at Havasu Falls, thinking that one was going to be the real ticker. The only thing that stopped us is that we were hot and tired from the hike and soooo ready for a swim. Plus the river was insanely beautiful, with tons of travertine pools where you could sit and hang out right in the middle of the river.

The 5 Waterfalls of Havasu Canyon on Arizona's Havasupai Indian Reservation

We took the obvious side trail down the hill that led to the river. Once you are down the hill, head left on a less obvious trail until you get to the large pool below Fifty Foot Falls. This waterfall and the cascades below it ended up being my favorite for swimming. They got plentiful afternoon sun, and at least when we were there, we had the pool all to ourselves.

Fifty Foot Falls in Havasu Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

The lesson is, Fifty Foot Falls is definitely worth a stop on your way to the campground. The campground is further downhill and once you get down there, you probably won’t want to make you way back up until you are on your way out at the end of the weekend. Oh and a good tip….your sleeping pad might just work as a float toy when you inflate it. Best camping hack ever!

Fifty Foot Falls in Havasu Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

2) NAVAJO FALLS

Navajo Falls is directly below Fifty Foot Falls, so you can easily hit both of these at the same time. Apparently Navajo Falls used to look quite different, but in 2008, a flash flood roared through and completely changed the landscape. From what I hear, Navajo Falls today is smaller than it used to be, but it is still amazing, clearly. The pool below Navajo Falls was deeper than Fifty Foot, although care should be taken at all of the falls if you choose to do any jumping. The water is deceiving shallow in some places and it’s really hard to tell because of the milky color. The other cool thing about Navajo is that there is a ledge that runs underneath the waterfall allowing you to walk behind it.

Navajo Falls in Havasu Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

Navajo and Fifty Foot Falls are the sunniest of all the falls because the canyon is wider than the falls further in. This means if you really want to get some sunbathing in, these are the two to spend your swim time at. Just be careful because I’m sure in the heat of summer, these two are scorching, and there is very little shade. Also don’t miss the flat rock right above Navajo Falls that is perfect spot to take in the view….(if wanna know more about that sweet little swivel chair I’m relaxing in, check out my full review of the Big Agnes Helinox Chair here.

Navajo Falls in Havasu Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

3) HAVASU FALLS

Havasu Falls is down the hill about a half to three-quarters of a mile past Navajo Falls. I was worried that when I got to Havasu Falls, it wasn’t going to be like the pictures. On the contrary. I was happy to find that it is even more stunning in real life. When you first approach the falls, the trail comes in from above on the left side. There are some great photo ops on the way down the hill, so make sure to stop and snap a few shots.

Havasu Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

Once you get down to the bottom of Havasu Falls, hang a right down the side trail to get to the pool. There are several picnic tables where you can sit, have a snack, or stash your stuff while you go for a swim. Do beware of sneaky, food snatching marmots and make sure you don’t leave any tasty treats out for them.

Havasu Falls is much more powerful than Fifty Foot and Najavo, but it’s still totally swimmable. It does see shade in the afternoon, which could be good or bad depending on the time of year you visit. For nighttime photography, Havasu Falls is your best bet. It’s the closest and easiest to get to from the campground in the dark. Plus the canyon walls aren’t so tall that you can’t get the night sky in your photos.

Havasu Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

4) MOONEY FALLS

To reach Mooney Falls, you first have to pass through the campground. Then the trail to get down to the bottom is pretty sketchy by most people’s standards. Your best bet is to choose a campsite, drop your stuff, and then head to Mooney Falls. I would recommend wearing a small daypack of some sort if you want to bring a camera and water and leave your trekking poles at camp. The hike is steep and slick in some places and you definitely need both hands to get down and back up the trail. Now I’m not saying this to scare you. It’s totally doable, but it’s better if you know what you are in for. The good news is the climb down is pretty short and doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, and once you are there, it opens up many more miles of river to explore.

The trail down to Mooney Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

The trail down to Mooney Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

The trail down to Mooney Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

Mooney Falls is the tallest and most forceful of the 5 waterfalls of Havasu Canyon, and if you choose to swim in Mooney Falls get ready for some turbulence. The mist alone is enough to leave you pretty soaked.

Mooney Falls in Havasu Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

5) BEAVER FALLS

In terms of scenery, Beaver Falls was my favorite. It’s deep down in the canyon about 2.5 miles past the campground. The trail to get there is dynamic, with some ups and downs, river crossings, and amazing views. Also, watch out for wildlife….you may just get lucky like we did.

The trail to Beaver Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation


The trail to Beaver Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

The trail to Beaver Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

When you get to the top of Beaver Falls, there may or may not be a Havasupai Ranger at the top. If there is one there, it’s just to make sure that anyone who is there paid the fee at the office in the village (more on that later).

Before you walk down the hill to get to the falls, there is a small bluff with a picnic bench. I’d recommend stopping there to take some pictures. It’s also a great place to stop and have lunch before or after your swim. Beaver Falls in Havasu Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

What was really cool about Beaver Falls was that you could walk up from one pool to the next, and there is also a trail that runs up the left side. While some places were deep, a majority of the pools were shallow enough to wade in and you could sit right in the falls and let the water pour over you. You should be aware that Beaver Falls (at least in March) was totally in the shade when we arrived. The canyon walls are steep and by the time we arrived in the early afternoon, the sun was long gone. Again, in summer, that’s probably a good thing, but just something to keep in mind, depending on the weather.

Beaver Falls in Havasu Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation

We stayed two nights at the campground, but after realizing how amazing, big, and diverse this place really is, you could easily stay and spend three nights here. That way you’d have plenty of time to explore and enjoy each waterfall for the unique features that make them different. I can’t wait to go back to Havasupai!

Want to plan your own trip here? Check out my detailed Havasu Falls Camping Guide!

Have you ever swam in a waterfall? Share you stories in the comments below!


There are 53 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.

53 Comments on “The 5 Amazing Waterfalls of Havasu Canyon

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  1. Great pictures! You are taking me back to 2007 when I did my first backpacking trip. Looking at my pictures, they were taken on an P&S and weren’t that good. Thanks for sharing! It is such a magical place.

      I feel the same way about my old pictures. But I think that’s part of the fun…seeing the way your photos progress. The key to the photos on this trip was I brought a tripod and a variable density filter. It helped me be able to get those silky shots, even in the bright daylight. Thanks for commenting!

    Great post Kristen! Really informative for first time visitors to Havasupai. Even with the internet research I did beforehand I really had no idea what we were in for. I’m still dreaming about our pretty little campsite next to the river. Looking forward to more adventures with you!

    I agree with Angela: great shots! Follows well to your post about photography. 🙂 I am going to check out a variable density filter as well. Just returned from Nepal and this might have been helpful!

    Was that mountain goat? Are they habituated from long-term exposure to hikers or you using a zoom?

    Great tips!

      That was a bighorn sheep, and I wasn’t using a zoom. We had just crossed the river and it came strolling down the trail and then crossed right in front of us. Didn’t seem to be bothered by us at all.

    I love chasing waterfalls……. especially in the Philippines, where there are many. After a long trek to get there theres nothing better than to stand underneath and have a free water massage. Then a swim in the cool clear fresh waters.

      I’ve heard beautiful things about the Philippines! Swimming in waterfalls there sounds amazing!

        Kristen your pictures are beautiful. Thank you for posting. I am from Florida and like warmer weather. When is a good time for me to travel to the falls without freezing at night and its not to crowded.

          I think April and May would be a good time or October.

    Your photographs are AMAZING! For the one of you in the water, were you using a GoPro?

      Hey Chanel – Thanks so much for the compliment. I attribute it to the rad Sony A7R camera I rented from LensRentals.com. But that one photo you are referring to was taken with a GoPro. Thanks for the comment! -Kristen

    I love this post! I love that you broke it down and showed a map on the waterfall locations from the campground. Can’t wait to get there this weekend! Again, thank you for sharing your tips!

      Thanks for the comment! I’m so glad you found it helpful. If you have any other questions, just let me know. Thanks and have a blast out there! -Kristen

    Wow, these photos are amazing! I especially loved the view of Beaver Fall’s different pools. Also, the trail to Mooney Falls does look like quite a climb. The view at the bottom definitely seems worth the effort, though!

      Thanks Jessica! The trail to Mooney Falls was definitely a bit tricky, but they have installed chains to help you as you make your way down. And Beaver Falls was just magical. Thanks for following along! -Kristen

    I have to get Paul out to Havasu Canyon!

    You don’t happen to know if dogs are allowed? I don’t think she could do the chains (and I’m certainly not carrying her around), but would it be possible to take Choppy otherwise?

    Hi Kristen,

    Thank you so much for sharing such detailed information and beautiful pics!

    What days in March were you there? We are thinking of camping mid to late March and was wondering how cold it gets so we know what to pack. We live in FL so 40s might be extremely cold to us! Lol

    Also, we are not experienced campers… Would you say the campground and conditions around it are suitable for 1st time campers? Would you recommend taking a hammock as well or sleeping bags? What is the inflatable bed you mentioned? We are staying 2 nights.

    Also one more question… I’ve read there are helicopters out. Do you know how early you can book them once you’re there? From what I understand it’s a first come, first serve basis. I was just wondering if you had any additional tips on that.

    Thank you again!

      Hey Ana –

      Congrats on getting into backpacking. It’s so fun and Havasu Falls is a great place to start. March will be chilly at night for sure. You’ll want to layer up with a down jacket and some wool long johns (that would be my choice), and you’ll need a warm sleeping bag and sleeping pad regardless of whether you sleep in a hammock or a tent. A hammock would be a great addition just to hang out in during the day as well.

      have you seen these two posts on my site:

      https://bearfoottheory.com/what-to-wear-hiking/

      https://bearfoottheory.com/best-lightweight-backpacking-gear/

      These are the kind of things you’ll want to bring and wear on your trip. The good news is the water stays the same temp year round so if you have a nice sunny day, you may be able to take a dip. Plus there will be less people in March.

      I’m not sure about the helicopter. I would call the reservation number and inquire with them.

      Cheers and let me know if you have any other questions.
      Kristen

    Hi there! I’m planning a trip to Havasupai this upcoming spring and was looking into getting a sleeping pad. I was glad to see you mention that it can double as a floatie! Are you able to use all inflatable sleeping pads in the water? And which one were you using in your pictures? Also, do you have any tips or insight for how you washed your camp kitchen items or if there are any areas to shower/bathe? Thanks so much!

      Hi! Some float, some don’t. The thicker ones are the ones that are more likely to float. I know the Thermarest NEO Air and some of Big Agnes pads float.

      There are no areas to shower or bathe (but there are toliets) and you shouldn’t use any kind of soap in the water. Check out this post on Leave No Trace and how to do dishes in the backcountry:

      https://bearfoottheory.com/basic-guidelines-of-leave-no-trace/

    I would really like to go hiking here but am not interested in camping. Do i still still to get a permit?

      Day hiking isn’t allowed and a permit is required for all hikers.

    These pictures are making me so excited for a trip there! Do you think it would be to hot to hike the first week of May? I have had such a hard time trying to get them to answer their always busy phones. I hope I can get a reservation.Thanks Deidre

      I think the temps in the first part of may will be ideal.

    Hi there! We are going to the Grand Canyon for 10 days in May! I am calling daily trying to get a reservation. The gentleman I spoke with tonight said just to keep trying especially closer to time; people cancel reservations alot of times. We only have two days available at the end of the trip to be able to do this. I am a active runner….and my husband goes elk hunting in the Colorado mountains yearly. Would it be possible to do this trip in the two days? Also how far of a drive would it be from Peach Springs AZ to the Hilltop. My in laws will be dropping us off and picking us up! Thank you for all of your great advice. I am praying someone cancels for the night we need!

      You can definitely do it in two days (but you’ll probably miss the sidehike to Beaver Falls). According to googlemaps it’s about 1 hour 45 minutes from peach springs to the parking lot. Hope you get the permit!

      Were you ever able to get a campsite booked? Right now I am in the same boat, I am calling every day but they just say, “Booked through the end of the year” They didn’t even let me ask a date. Did this happen for you as well? Thank you!!

    You really make me want to go again. Went there in 1991 at the age of 12 and had the run of the place with other 6th graders in the club. I’m sure rules have changed and what not now but I am determined to get my family down there this year. And your pics are soo much better than the ones I have…gotta love technology.

      Hey! Probably a lot busier than 1991, but still magical. Have fun with your family down there and thanks for stopping by my website!

    I am considering taking our kids, ages 10 and 13. However, I am worried that there are too many opportunities for curious kids to slip over an edge. Thoughts?

      The trail is wide and well-maintained except for the section down to Mooney Falls.

    What are your thoughts on staying in the lodge in Supai and then doing day hikes to the falls?

      I haven’t stayed at the lodge so I can’t say…but if you camp you will be much closer and I think it’s a nicer setting than the lodge.

    Hi, thank you for this wonderful description of the falls. I just got back from a three day adventure in the canyon. I was able to hike to all 5 waterfalls. I stayed at the lodge, and I agree with you, it would have been better to camp because of easier access to the falls. it added an extra 4 miles a day that could have been time spent playing and swimming. The weather was absolutely perfect and the water was so refreshing. It was not crowded at all. The campground looked to be about 1/3 full. The climb out of Mooney Falls was one of the scariest and most rewarding things I have ever done.

    Hello!

    Thank you for this awesome post. My two friends and I are thinking of hiking here, we were just wondering if you think its possible to complete this entire trial in one day? I dont think we have time to stay overnight here. If not the whole trail how far do you think we can get in a day?!

    Also, do you need a permit for staying for the day?

    Thanks so mcuh!

      They don’t allow day hiking and you need a permit…the falls are at the very end so even if you tried to do it in a day, it would be a 20 mile day, and you have to pay the full camping fees.

    I found this to be so helpful, thank you for sharing your wonderful experiences and all the helpful notations of info! I do have one question, though. Would you happen to know what the min and max capacity is for a campsite? I\\\’m looking and can\\\’t find it anywhere…

    2 queries ?
    Camping rentals – All necessary things will be available to rent, right ? Including life jacket, portable chairs and the floater. Please advice.
    2. Food – Any suggestion, recommendation would be helpful.

    Thanks a lot for your time.

    Hi Kristen,

    Great site. I am planning to go there in mid March. could you tell me the settings you use on your camera to get the silky waterfall effect?
    we were planning to use mule/horses to bring our camp gear up the hill but some member in our group kept reading about animal abuse on sites, did you happen to see any of that? also are the any latrine near the campground. many thanks.

      You’ll need a tripod. Then you need to slow the shutter speed down and adjust the other setting accordingly. The shutter speed will probably be somewhere in the 1/5 second or less range…but play around to get the look you like. The horses did not look like they were in good shape when we were there. I recommend packing your bag out if you can. And remember it will be lighter on the way out since you’ll have eaten all of your food.

    We are planning a summer 2018 family trip to Grand Canyon. Our kids will be 13, 16, and 18.
    We are interested in a 3 or 4 day guided backpacking tour. Can you please recommend a tour company? Would you suggest Havasu Falls or Phantom Ranch as destination? Thank you for any guidance you can give me:)

      I’m leading a trip with Arizona Outback Adventures in May in Zion. I haven’t done their Grand Canyon trips, but they come highly reviewed. I haven’t been to Phantom Ranch so I can’t really recommend one over the other. I’m sure you can’t go wrong with either.

    Hello- I found your blog through the interview you did with Matt at Superstar Blogging. I am so glad to find your site since In a few years I will be an empty nester and want to travel the parks in the western US. The Grand Canyon is on the top of my bucket list- can\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’t believe I turn 50 this year and still have not been there! Now I will want to pair this with my trip to Grand Canyon. You did an awesome job on your photography- I am inspired to go!

      Awesome April! Thanks so much for getting in touch. Definitely makes sense to combine Havasu falls with the Grand Canyon. have fun out there!

    Hello! Are you familiar with Stand Up Paddle Boarding near Havasu falls? I have seen pictures of this, but can’t figure out where to do this? Maybe this is closer to Grand Canyon? What is the difference between Havasu Creek and Havasu Falls? It is a little hard to distinguish online. Thanks!

      I believe those people hiked their SUPs in and did it on the creek somewhere below the falls. I haven’t seen it in person, so I’m not 100% sure.

    Hello!

    I’m in Havasupai at the end of April – I’ve done enough research and enough solo travel, but for some reason I’m being a bit of a wuss about this one. Not sure why. So … here’s what is going to provide me with comfort.

    As a solo traveller … is the trailhead well marked from the Hualapai Hilltop car park to the village? Like really well marked or am I going to get lost and get eaten by a mountain lion? Were there quite a lot of people doing the same thing when you went or were you just trekking on your own? Looking at pictures it seems that the trail is sometimes not as well marked on dusty routes.

      The trail follows the wash, so if you just follow that down, there really isn’t any way to get lost. There weren’t a ton of people when I was there, but we did pass the occasional person. Good luck! Hope you have a blast!

    Hi Kristen,

    I had a question about the Beaver Falls. I heard that it is difficult to find. Is this accurate? I don’t want to pursue this hike next week in the case I may get lost. Do you have any advice on the trail and directions on getting to Beaver Falls? There isn’t much online about directions and how to get there.

      Beaver Falls is not difficult to find. You just follow the trail along the creek below Mooney Falls and eventually you will get to it.

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