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How to Spend Your Time in Havasupai: My Detailed Four Day, Three Night Itinerary

Updated: Mar 15

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Havasupai is one of those destinations that gets added to mood boards and bucket lists. Its iconic turquoise waters and red cliffs make it one of the most sought after camping destinations in the US.


Getting a reservation isn't easy, so if you're lucky enough to be able to visit, you'll want to make sure you plan out your time.


Every reservation has the same length: four days and three nights. You can enter the reservation at any time during the dates listed on your permit, but must exit before the end of the last day. Since there's so much to see within the grounds, I highly recommend making full use of the four days you're given.


I visited Havasupai in November of 2023 with my boyfriend and one of my best friends. The three of us came up with a general game plan of how we wanted to spend our days. Here are my suggestions and some things to take into consideration. But regardless of the order you choose, you're going to have an amazing time during your trip!


Now, let's get into the good stuff.


Day Zero - Prep Day

Highlights:

  • Packing up and resting

  • Staying at a nearby hotel

  • Checking in early!


While technically not part of your reservation dates, Day Zero (the day before your reservation starts) is an important aspect to plan out.


Pro tip: If you arrive during check-in hours, you can also grab your wristbands this day to save time tomorrow!


Since you'll want an early start on Day One, staying close to the trailhead this day is extremely helpful. There are two main accommodations to choose from near Hilltop Trailhead.


Grand Canyon Caverns

The Grand Canyon Caverns hotel is closest to the trailhead and is the location for permit check-ins. This is where you'll need to stop before accessing the trailhead. You'll receive all the information you need as well as your wristbands, tent tags, and luggage tags for the mule system.


This is the best option if you'd like to save as much time as possible to get an extra early start. This can be helpful during the summer, when starting in the cool early morning hours is imperative.


Hualapai Lodge

Hualapai Lodge (*affiliate link) is the second closest and just down the street from Grand Canyon Caverns. Staying here is still super convenient for checking in and heading out to the trailhead on the morning of your reservation. The drive from here to Hilltop is around one hour.


Note: I couldn't find a website for this lodge, but they can be booked through several other sites such as Booking.com. (*affiliate link)


This is where we ended up staying due to the slightly lower price. We found it comfortable and enjoyed a soak in their hot tub the night before our trip started.


Day One - Hiking In

Highlights:

  • Check in if you didn't on Day Zero

  • Drive to Hilltop Trailhead

  • Enjoy the hike into camp!

  • Set up camp

  • Explore near camp and rest up for more hiking tomorrow


This is when the fun begins! You've gotten a restful night of sleep at a nearby hotel and are ready to hit the trail.


Hiking into Havasupai is mostly downhill, so you'll have the easier leg today and the more difficult, uphill leg on your final day.


I recommend starting as early as possible to maximize your time and chance of grabbing the perfect campsite. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Campsite at Havasupai for tips on choosing a site!


Driving up to Hilltop Trailhead, you'll be stopped to show your permit. Every person in your car must have their wristband on to be allowed through, so take care of this before heading out!


Once you arrive at the parking lot, you'll find a spot or park along the roadside if the lot is full. Since there are people leaving everyday, you may be able to grab a spot from someone as they are heading out.


If you aren't able to grab a close spot, drop off your bags near the bathrooms with one of your group members before driving out to find a parking spot. This saves you all the trouble of lugging your backpacks from your car to the trailhead.


Pro tip: There are small rodents that will seek out any food left in your car! Remove any consumables and make sure your rat guards are in working order before starting your hike. We found this our the hard way by leaving snacks in my Prius that we knew we'd want after finishing our hike out. Instead of getting to munch on our chips and fruit, we found ourselves tossing our food and cleaning out mouse poop. Not what we hoped for after our 11-mile hike!


Take a final bathroom stop (there are no bathrooms along the trail) and stash some mid-hike snacks in your belt loop pockets. You're now ready to get started - woohoo!


Starting out along the trail, you'll be weaving quickly downhill along a set of switchbacks. This is the steepest part of the trail. You can see where it mostly levels out along the bottom of the canyon from the top of the trailhead.


We set out from the top around 9 in the morning and arrived at our campsite a little over four hours later. We took one or two quick breaks and stopped for water at the spring along the way. This gave us the rest of the afternoon to set up camp and explore a bit!


Our camp setup:


Two tents and a hammock set up next to a river and trees.


By the time we finished setting up and having lunch, there was only a little daylight left for walking around. We trekked out to Mooney Falls at the end of the campground and admired it from the top.


We lounged around camp and got cozy until night. Once the skies were completely dark, we walked back out to Mooney Falls to stargaze. The stars really turned out for us! We couldn't believe how brightly the moon lit up the canyon walls.


Here's one of my favorite iPhone shots:


A star-filled sky above an illuminated cliff face.


We hit the hay pretty early since it was so cold and there are no campfires allowed in Havasupai campground. A perk of camping is the extra deep sleep you'll get from following the natural rhythms of night and day. 😌


Day Two - Beaver and Mooney

Highlights:

  • Mooney Falls (2 miles roundtrip)

  • Beaver Falls (6 miles roundtrip)


This is your first full day to day hike out to the falls! We planned the longer hikes for this day for a few reasons:

  1. We knew we'd get progressively more tired during our stay and wanted to knock out the longer day hikes early on.

  2. The last day is the most difficult with the hike out being uphill. This meant we wanted to be as refreshed as possible and save the shorter day hikes for the day before we left.

  3. We were super excited to see these two falls and wanted to visit them ASAP!


You'll get up and prep for your day. Pack up a day bag with snacks and plenty of water, grabbing a refill at the spring if you need. Remember there's only one source of potable water in the campsite and no others along the trail.


Bring water shoes!


You WILL be crossing streams and getting your feet wet. We opted to wear sandals for the entire hike and honestly regretted it. We all ended up getting pretty bad blisters from sand getting under the straps of our shoes and rubbing on our feet.


One of the stream crossings, through this wide and shallow section:


A wide and shallow river with cliffs in the back.


Most people we saw wore hiking boots and changed into water shoes for the water crossings. If I returned, this is the method I would use. It's inconvenient to need to change your shoes that many times, but it's worth it to avoid those blisters!


Heading out from camp, you'll first reach Mooney Falls. The hike down can be intimidating, but believe in yourself and take it slow. The descent to the bottom of the falls is steep and gets sprayed by the waterfall. The rock is super solid and there are nice footholds all the way down. There's also a chain for extra support and piles of gloves to use at the top and bottom. The gloves were really soggy, but can be a lifesaver when the chain is slippery or cold.



A man holding onto a chain as he climbs down a steep cliff path.


Once you make it down, feel free to hang out at Mooney for a while or continue onto Beaver! We saved Mooney for the end so we wouldn't end up losing too much daylight before finishing the rest of the trail.


Continue downstream following the established trail. You won't get lost as there are only two directions you can go: upstream and downstream! The only tricky parts are knowing when to cross the river. If you suddenly seem to have come to the end of the established trail, look across the water to see if it continues over there.


You'll cross the water several times. Don't worry! It's not deep and you'll be able to wade across easily. This is where water shoes come in handy.


There are a couple ladder sections on the way to Beaver Falls. They aren't high off the ground, so even people with a fear of heights (like me!) should be just fine making it through.



A ladder leaned up against the rocks next to a river.


Arriving at Beaver Falls, there are a few more steps to climb down and you'll be at the river. I found the prettiest view of the falls to be from above, so remember to take in the scenery and snap some photos along the way.


Beaver Falls was the prettiest in my opinion -- but it's so hard to choose. I'm enamored by the layered effect this waterfall has. This was the least favorite of my friend though since he prefers the taller waterfalls with a big drop. Thankfully Havasupai has something for everyone!


This is the perfect place to stop for a snack and hop in the water. Even though it was cold when we went, we didn't miss any opportunity to enjoy the water. We just made sure to bring towels and warm layers to change into afterward.



A man and woman sitting in the middle of a waterfall.


If you're feeling brave, you can even climb up toward the top of the falls on the right side. We adventured a ways up, but not all the way to the top. This was such a fun spot to hang out and swim around. The water was pretty warm, even with the air temperature being around 60 degrees F.


Once we had our fill, we dried off and headed back toward camp. We stopped at the bottom of Mooney Falls this time to take some photos and soak in the power of the falls. This is an incredibly scenic waterfall! The rock deposits all around are intricate and beautiful, with moss and ferns clinging to the walls.



A woman standing in front of a tall waterfall.


We didn't swim at Mooney, but would have if the weather was warmer! It was still fun to watch the water rush down and spray dozens of feet into the air.


Around this time we were starting to be hungry for a warm meal and wandered back to camp. The final stretch of today's hike is heading back up the steep climb, then an easy stroll through camp to your campsite.


Here's a view of that climb from the bottom:


A steep ladder and path leading up the side of a moss-covered cliff.


Grab a glove or two and start working your way up! This is a quick climb and going up is easier than going down. Make another bathroom stop on the way to camp, then get cozy for the night.


The skies stayed cloudy for us on this night, so we hung out at camp and ate dinner amidst our fairy lights.


Day Three - All the other falls!

Highlights:

  • Hidden Falls

  • Little Navajo Falls

  • Fifty Foot Falls

  • Havasu Falls


Day Three is your second full day to explore and will be filled with plenty of waterfall dips. We got a slower start this morning and lounged at camp, spending some time relaxing in our hammock. I definitely recommend bringing a hammock if you have one! And if you don't, it's a solid investment for this trip and future ones. You'll likely have some downtime during your stay and laying out in a hammock is a great way to spend it.


Here's the hammock I brought and have loved for many years. (*affiliate link)



A hammock set up next to a river.


Starting out your adventures for this day, you'll head upstream toward Havasu Falls. We decided to leave this waterfall for the end of the day and went further to explore.


You'll pass the famous fry bread stand at the top of the waterfall. Try to catch them when they're open to get a tasty snack. They didn't end up being open while we were here, so we missed out on this. If you're set on trying their fry bread, you can always hike the two miles back into town to get some there!


Past Havasu Falls, you'll be heading uphill. As the trail heads up, you'll see that it veers to the right and levels out slightly. Before that stretch, keep an eye out on the right side of the trail for a fork that leads to Hidden Falls.


Pro tip: Hidden Falls is one of the lesser known falls in this area and worth a visit if you're feeling adventurous!


To access these falls, follow the trail down on the righthand side toward the river. You'll see a sign for the falls along this trail. Once you hit the water, you'll continue toward the left following the river further upstream. There is a bit of a path along the water. You can either wade through the water or do a little traverse rock climbing to continue.



Two men climbing low across a canyon wall.


Once you see the falls, there will be an area to swim in. You can also cross the water and climb up to the top of the falls on the other side. Especially brave visitors may want to (safely) jump here! The walls aren't super high. While we didn't do any cliff jumping during our trip, we did see a group here making jumps into the water.



A small waterfall in the middle of a lush canyon.


Sunlight in the canyon is limited since the sun quickly falls behind the cliff walls. By the time we made it to Hidden Falls, it was already covered in shade. We didn't hop in the water here, but did climb up to the top of the cliffs on the right side.


If you do climb up, be extra careful! The walls aren't completely made of rock and we encountered some patches that were fragile and could have easily fallen away if we grabbed or stepped on them. Test out any holds before you put body weight on them.


The view from the top of Hidden Falls is easily one of my favorites in the canyon!



A lush canyon with a terraced river flowing through the middle.


After Hidden Falls, we continued upstream to find Fifty Foot and Little Navajo Falls. We started with the farther of the two and wandered over to Fifty Foot Falls.


This waterfall is a bit easier to find than Hidden Falls. Continuing along the trail, you'll see trails branching off on the right side. These mostly connect and lead to the next two waterfalls. Moving on the side trail and continuing to the left and further upstream, you'll soon find a (pretty small) turquoise arrow sign pointing the way to Fifty Foot falls.


Walk along that path until you make it to the waterfall! It's just a couple minutes off the main trail. Sticking to the left leads you right next to the waterfall where you can get a gorgeous sideview.



A large waterfall with trees and canyons in the back.


From here, you can wade right into the water. A walking stick or trekking poles really come in handy here. The water isn't deep and you can easily walk around here between the tall grass to get an amazing view of this stunning waterfall. The riverbed is super slippery though! I took an accidental spill here and ended up getting my clothes soaked -- oops.



A wide waterfall lined with trees at the top.


This ended up being one of my favorite waterfalls visually. It's absolutely beautiful!


From here, you'll backtrack just a bit to find Little Navajo Falls. Walking back along the side path, you'll see another one of those turquoise arrow signs pointing your way. You can see people on the main path in the photo below. You'll continue walking on the side trail just below that where the sign is.



A small arrow sign that says "Navajo Falls" in the middle of trees.


Little Navajo Falls is great to visit in the afternoon because the sun hits this area for much longer than the rest. This was perfect for us since it was so cold when we went. If you visit during the summer, planning to see this waterfall in the early morning or late afternoon is a good idea so you won't get baked by the sun.


We ended up having the most fun here. I loved that there were terraces to soak in that felt like natural bathtubs, albeit a bit chillier. There's also a fairly tall drop for the water, which makes it scenic for those tall waterfall chasers as well. This was where we saw the most people entering and enjoying the water on this cool day.



A waterfall surrounded by trees and towering canyon walls.


Little Navajo Falls was the most difficult for me to photograph, but all of us agreed it was a favorite stop. We spent most of the rest of the afternoon here, sharing a snack and a few dips in the water before starting our journey back toward camp.


On our way back, we made a stop at the iconic Havasu Falls. This may be the most photographed waterfall of the entire list. And for good reason! Here's a shot my boyfriend snapped. The colors are unbelievable. In fact, he really didn't believe it would look like this until we arrived. There's no photo editing required!



A huge waterfall in the middle of tall canyon walls.


This photo is from the main trail during our hike in on the first day, when the sun was still hitting the water. On Day Three when we spent time here, it was already shaded. We still headed down to the base of the waterfall to admire it's vibrant waters.


Plenty of people brought chairs to spend extended time here. There are some fun areas to explore on the right side of the waterfall and all around the canyon floor. I would have loved to swim around here on a summer day.



A tall waterfall with small river terraces in the foreground.


The area to the left has those wonderful travertine terraces that I love so much. We spent the last bits of daylight here, then made our way back to camp.


After a few days of walking, climbing, and swimming, we were more than ready to relax. Get cozy in your best camp clothes and enjoy your last night in Havasupai. Cook yourself an extra gourmet meal. We spent this night trying to consume as much food as we could, lightening our load for the hike out tomorrow.


We got lucky with another clear night and spent the wee hours stargazing at Mooney Falls once again. Satisfied with a few shooting stars, we made our way to bed and got some of the best sleep of our lives.


Day Four - Hiking Out

Highlights:

  • Enjoy your morning!

  • Pack up camp

  • Hike out to the trailhead

  • Head for home... or Day Five


Day Four is when that elevation gain is coming back for you after the (relatively) easy descent into the canyon on Day One. This is the most difficult leg of the hike, but you've got it! Your pack should have shed a few pounds of food weight over the last few days and you're well-rested after the hike in. I'd also bet you're more than ready for a shower and a real bed, which is plenty of motivation.


When you decide to get started on your hike out this day is going to depend greatly on the time of year you're visiting and whether you have any timely obligations to meet. Since we visited in November and weren't in any external rush, we didn't have a problem lingering at camp before we packed up. We made a proper breakfast and tried to eat as much heavy food as we could manage last minute to lighten our packs.


If you're visiting in the summer, you'll want to be careful not to leave too late into the morning. Temperatures can reach well over a hundred degrees and remember: there's nowhere to refill your water between Supai Village and the trailhead. Prepare accordingly and pack up early to beat the heat.


We packed up and were ready to leave our beloved campsite by 9:00 in the morning. We made sure to fill up our water at Fern Spring on our way out and we hit the trail!



Two men and a woman smiling at the camera with backpacks on.


One thing I've learned over my years of backpacking is that you should start cold and dress for temperatures around 10-15 degrees warmer than it is. I tend to run super hot when I hike, so I can get away with a single layer on all but the coldest days. With temperatures in the low-60s this day, we were sweating profusely after a couple hours and my head was burning up with this beanie.


The hike out is just as gorgeous as the hike in -- and it's always fun to see the same scenery from the other direction! The fall foliage was unbelievable to hike through in those canyon walls.


We munched on snacks from our hip belt pockets and recounted our favorite memories from the trip while we walked. The most important topic of conversation on the out hike of any backpacking trip is what to eat when you're back in town.


Pro tip: Keep your eyes scanning for the trail as you go! It's easier to go off the trail on the way out and we accidentally followed a dry river bed a short ways before realizing we had completely missed the trail to our right. Back-tracking is not fun!


Take plenty of breaks whenever you need them and remember to stay hydrated. That desert dehydration will sneak up on you fast, even in the cooler months.


After five hours of hiking and a few rest stops, we were back up at Hilltop!



Two men and a woman with backpacks smiling at the camera with a large canyon in the background.


I was incredibly proud of these two for completing their first backpacking trip! At this point, I recommend unstrapping and dropping your backpacks off in the turnaround area. You can send one person to grab your car and pick everyone and the packs up to save some energy.


Now it's time to relax in those cushy car seats, swap out your hiking boots for slippers, and enjoy the ride home.


Day Five - Continue the adventure or rest

Highlights:

  • Explore the surrounding areas

  • Spend the night in a nearby hotel

  • Drive or fly home


This is where your adventure can take one of a few paths. You can choose to rest up in one of the hotels mentioned in Day Zero and get in a peaceful day before heading back home. You can continue the journey in one of the nearby towns or areas. Sedona is just three hours away from the trailhead and has countless places to explore. I recommend Jacey's awesome Sedona guides like this one for some ideas.


Or, if you're like us, you're ready to sleep in your own bed and will hit the road for home. It was another seven hour drive for us. Since we reached the trailhead at 2:00 pm, we still had plenty of time to make it, especially with the time difference giving us two hours back.


If you loved this adventure half as much as I expect you to, you'll already be planning your next backpacking trip on the drive home :)



 


I hope you found this itinerary helpful and if you have any questions about visiting Havasupai, don't hesitate to reach out! This is such a special place that we're privileged to be able to visit and it's sure to leave you inspired to get out and explore even more of this beautiful planet.


Best of luck on your travels and I'll see you out there.



A woman walking toward the camera with a big backpack on her back with tall cliffs in the background.

Happy adventuring,

A




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