May 2, 2010

Havasu Canyon: Top to Bottom

I took a 3 day weekend to go explore Havasu Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation.  The Reservation land touches the southwest portion of Grand Canyon National Park.  The most stunning features of the Havasu Canyon are the magnificent waterfalls.  Access to these wonders requires a 10 mile trek and payment to the Havasupai Tribe. 

Parking Lot to Campground - 10 miles
Campground to Colorado River- 7 miles
Total Round Trip Distance- 34 miles

I hiked down to the campground on day 1 (10 miles) and relaxed, then hiked to the Colorado and back on day 2 (14 miles), and finally hiked out on Day 3 (10 miles).
Most people stop at the campground and hang out at Havasu and Mooney Falls.  But I highly recommend the additional 7 mile trek to the Colorado River.  It is an adventure, feels more wild/pristine, and there are far less people.

View from Parking Area

Typical view on the way down

My first glimpse of the village of Supai, 8 miles into the hike.  There are no roads into the village and the only access is by foot, mule, or helicopter.

Another view of Supai

Havasuuuuu Falls

Havasu Falls from bottom

There were stray dogs like this all over the campground.  They were incredibly docile and friendly.

Starting the descend down to Mooney Falls

The steep descent down to Mooney Falls.  There were chains and metal bars drilled into the rock for some reassurance.  Mist from the waterfall makes the surface extra slick.  I was a little tentative at first but got the hang of it after a few times up and down.

The view of Mooney Falls from the base makes the difficult descent worthwhile.

Another view of Mooney a couple hundred yards downstream.

Heading down canyon from Mooney falls.  The 7 miles to the river looked like this the entire way with the red canyon walls growing in height every mile.  There was a trail for the most part but I had to cross the stream numerous times.  These 7 miles are the best part of Havasu Canyon.    

Should have brought a fishing rod

Getting close to the confluence with the Colorado River

Getting closer...

Made it!!! Colorado River vs. Havasu Creek: The color contrast is incredible

Mission Accomplished: The mighty Colorado River of the Grand Canyon

I wasn't alone down there...It's a little weird being so far removed from civilization, in such a remote area, yet there are so many people down there with fresh fruits and vegetables, stereos, and beer.  It kind of ruined the wilderness feel to an otherwise majestic hike to the Colorado River.

One last parting shot of Havasu Falls before beginning the long hike out


  1. great post. As I was reading I was thinking to myself, "why does that tribe name sound so familiar and why does that waterfall look so familiar?" Then I realized I read an article about the Havasupai just last week.

    Also, you look like a true adventurer with your pack and trekking poles in the last picture. all great pictures

  2. That's funny seeing your comment on the boaters pulling into the eddy....I seen that picture above it of the empty eddy (apparently misleading) and thought the mouth of Havasu looked very empty without a raft eddied out.

    By the way, almost exactly 3 years later (just got off the canyon) there are just as many fish hanging out in that same eddy. I was thinking the exact same thing. Fresh [non-canned] meat isn't as common as fresh produce on the river.

  3. Hey man, Thanks for the comment. You really hit me hard there with the comment about 3 years later. Was it really that long ago? Time flies. Must keep having adventures. I am glad you are down there exploring the canyon. What mode of travel did you use to get down there?