Trip Dates: June 22-25th, 2017
If you've never heard of Havasu Falls, I'm happy you found this post because it's a place that is definitely worth a visit. It's essentially paradise on Earth. It's a paradise consisting of blue-green waterfalls located in the Havasupai tribal lands near the Grand Canyon. People from all over the country (and possibly the world) call over and over and over again every February 1st in hopes of obtaining a coveted permit and campground reservation to visit this magical land. Having seen pictures of the oasis a couple years ago, I was determined to get there... somehow, someway.
When I saw Girls Who Hike LA was organizing a trip there I jumped aboard, literally. The price tag honestly did not matter, I had to visit and to think Sharron was going to handle the reservations, it was a "take all my money" kind of moment. I kept every weekend in June open and received word our group of 12 was set see Havasu Falls June 22nd-25th, 2017. My prayers were answered!
A lot of Havasu visitors drive all night and sleep for a few hours at the trailhead before hiking ten miles into the canyon. We did things a little differently: Sharron reserved a couple rooms at the Holiday Inn Express in Kingman, Arizona so we were able to get a decent night sleep (complete with air conditioning) after a bonding dinner at Canyon 66 Restaurant and Lounge across the street. We did a grab and go breakfast before venturing the remaining two hours to the trailhead in the wee hours of the morning.
Wee hours of the morning translate to: pitch black on the desert roads of Arizona. The road to Haulapai Hilltop (the trailhead) was... insane. There were literally elk, rabbits, cattle, etc. ON the road that we were driving past in the darkness. Somehow all the ladies and their vehicles made it to the trailhead unharmed (spoiler alert: on my way out after an incredible weekend, I spotted a car/elk accident and the scene you're imagining in your head is exactly what I saw on the left hand side of the road complete with police car)...
As you can see from the above picture, we departed the trailhead just as the sun was rising on June 23rd, 2017. The view was magnificent. The sunrise over the canyon was just an introduction to all of the breathtaking views we would feast our eyes on over the weekend. The trek to the campground was not too bad. We hiked about two miles down (yay for switchbacks) before proceeding another six or so miles to the village. Naturally we stopped in the village for "breakfast" which should more accurately be referred to as brunch considering I ordered a delicious burrito. We then stopped to "check in" to the campground and received our bracelets. The next two miles actually into the campground was a bit rough because the anticipation was killing me, it was warming up, and we were hiking on a soft surface that resembled sand... Not the easiest when carrying 30+ pounds on your back. But, as we caught sight of Navajo Falls I knew it was all worth it.
Seeing Navajo Falls to our left it almost did not seem real. The pictures and videos I saw of the turquoise/blue-green water were real, the water really was that color (high calcium carbonate concentration in the water creates the vivid blue-green color). We kept walking and saw the most iconic of the falls: Havasu Falls. We stopped for a few pictures before making our way to find a camp site. With a lot of difficulty (due to the time in which we left the trailhead) we eventually found a spot relatively suitable for 12 girls. Note: Campsites are first come, first serve once you leave the campground check-in... They don't assign spots. Perks of our site: Relatively short distance to the brick and mortar bathroom, solid options for a bathroom among nature, and the best - the creek ran right in front of the site. Considering we went during one of the warmest times, it was a literal lifesaver.
We spent the rest of the 23rd exploring and hanging out at Havasu Falls. The high concentration of calcium carbonate also forms the natural travertine dams that occur in various places near the falls which also make for perfect hang out spots. We swam, chatted, took plenty of photos, and swam some more. There was a picnic table in the water that was the perfect platform for jumping into the water in one of the travertine dams. Getting out of the water was a bit rough due to the 100+ degree temperatures. Luckily we didn't realize just how hot it was when we were in the water. Let's just say sleeping was a little difficult given the heat. I actually only brought a bed sheet to cover up with rather than my sleeping bag (that was a good call).
The 24th was spent hiking down to Mooney and Beaver Falls. The whole "Descend at Your Own Risk" is an excellent warning. Those afraid of heights will most likely not make it down the rickety ladders but should try because Mooney Falls is another view everyone needs to experience. Let's just say the effort to descend is rewarded with a view. From Mooney Falls some of the group trekked on another three miles (complete with creek crossings and off-trail navigation) to Beaver Falls. Just when you think things can't get any better, you behold another seen out of a fairy tale. We spent some time at Beaver Falls swimming and exploring but eventually decided to hike back before it got to 100+ degrees again. We returned and spent the rest of the day at Mooney Falls. We found some rafts left behind by others and lounged our day away surrounded by paradise. Next time I have the opportunity to visit this magnificent land I would like to hike another 10 miles or so to the Confluence (where Havasu Creek meets the powerful Colorado River).
As I mentioned before, it was unusually hot in Havasu the weekend we were there so we made the decision to depart the oasis in the middle of the night in order to make it to the top of the switchbacks before the sun beat her rays/heat on them. There were a few of us that decided to hike unusually fast and referred ourselves as "HOV" otherwise known as the carpool lane in Southern California. We made it to the top of the canyon in just about four hours if memory serves me correctly... We all said our goodbyes and the majority of the group headed back to Los Angeles while I headed on to explore the Grand Canyon. Check back soon to continue on my Southwest Road Trip with me!
A note: Even though it’s not easy to hike to Havasu, this place is definitely worth a visit and there is an option to helicopter in and out and/or utilize mules to carry your gear. From what I know about the mules, I will never use them (Google search Havasu animal cruelty) but I would be all for using the helicopter. More information on the permit process, campground reservations, and helicopter services can be found here: http://theofficialhavasupaitribe.com/
HUGE Thank You to Sharron at Girls Who Hike for making this experience possible!!