I got back from a exhilarating trip to the most remote village in USA, Supai. This village gets it's USPS postal delivery via mules in 2019. It's almost unbelievable :)
The reason I went to Supai was to see the Havasupai Falls and explore the nearby area. I'd seen a few pictures of these falls before and always thought it looked too blue and was probably photo-shopped. No water could be that blue, right? Wrong.
Havasupai translates to people of the blue-green water, and having seen the falls, I can confirm that the water is totally legit and beyond comparison. It is unimaginable to think that there are such beautiful falls deep in the canyons, like an oasis in a desert. But nature always creates landscapes beyond our wildest dreams, so in a way this should be expected.
Here's my experience --
Getting a Campground Reservation
One of the hardest part of the trip to Havasupai is getting a reservation to go there. For the 2019-2020 season, the reservation calendar opened up at 8 am Arizona Time on Feb 1, 2019, and with two members of our group continuously trying in front of the computer -- we finally got a booking confirmation at 9.30 am. We noticed that the entire reservation got sold out by 11 am, so there was a window of just 3 hours to get a camping spot for the entire year.
We got lucky, but luck is when preparation meets opportunity. So, to give yourself the best chance -- create an account in advance, add your credit card information, sign-in to your account before opening time and keep trying when the window opens. Good luck!
As of 2019, you are only allowed for book a stay for 3 nights or longer. You can book a stay for 3 nights and leave in a night or two, but that wouldn't do justice to the place. You can also choose to transfer your reservation entirely or partly to someone else, and you can find people looking for spots or giving away spots in the official facebook group.
The reservation is expensive for a campground, it was 125$ per-night per-adult for a weekend, and 100$ per-night per-adult for a weekday. Although it is much more expensive than a regular campground, it was worth it for me, because there is no other place in the world like this one :)
There are two accommodation options -- the campground and the lodge. We stayed at the campground so I can't comment on the lodge reservations.
The campground has no running water restrooms, but there are pit toilet restrooms at three locations. Each restroom has between 2-5 stalls. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer are available, but some times they run out and take some time to be replaced, so come prepared. One of the restrooms was closed on the last day we were there. It's approximately a 5 minute walk to any restroom.
There is a fern spring located close to the beginning of the campground, where you can get fresh water. It is clean water, so we used it to fill our bottles and cook our food. It's best to carry a collapsible 5 gallon water can -- so you can fill your water once and use it for a long time.
There are no fires permitted in the campground, nor are there any options to grill or barbecue. So avoid packing food that requires grilling. You can cook on a stove-top using a propane canister. Alcohol is not allowed, nor are pool floaties. This is a sacred place for the Havasupai, so treat it with respect.
Most of the campsites are located next to Havasu creek, so you can enjoy the blue water right there. There are plenty of Cottonwood trees to tie a hammock and relax!
There are a lot of squirrels which will do anything to get to food, so pack anything with an odor in a rat-sack. The campground ranger station also provides big plastic buckets where you can store food which the squirrels cannot chew, so don't forget to ask for that. Note that they may run out of the buckets during high season, so have an alternative for storing food safely. You do not want squirrels to chew your tent or back-pack for food.
There are many options on the actual hike itself, and I'll start with the most common to least common.
Hiking with a Backpack
I'd say more than 50% of the people hike with their back-pack. This means you pack everything you need for your entire stay here, inclusive of tent, sleeping bags and food and carry it with you in and out ~ for a total of 20 miles. It's a great option for those who have backpacked before, and the cheapest.
If hiking with your backpack is too strenuous , you can reserve a mule. One mule can carry 4 bags of 32 lbs in and out, so all you need to carry with you for the in and out hike of 20 miles is your day pack.
Note that you need to reserve a mule immediately after your campground reservation is confirmed. It is not guaranteed that you will get a mule until you get a confirmation email.
One mule both ways costs 400$ -- so it does not come cheap. This is the option we ended up with choosing and it made our hike a lot less strenuous.
If you prefer to cut the amount of time you need to hike, then you can choose to take a helicopter. Although only advertised as being available 3 days/week (Fri, Sat, Sun) until mid-March, we saw a chopper in use on Monday too.
The helicopter carries air freight too, so your back-pack can go along with you. A ride in the chopper costs 85$ one-way.
The helicopter only drops you at the Supai village, and you need to hike 2 miles down-hill to get to the campground. If you're planning to take a chopper on the way up, remember that you need to carry your back-pack from the campground to the village which is a 2 mile uphill.
Our itinerary for 3 nights, 4 days
- Hike-in from Hualapai Hilltop to Supai Village
- Check in at tourism office in Supai Village and get camp permits
- Hike from Supai Village to Campground, with a stop at Havasu Falls
- Go to Havasu Falls and spend the morning in the water
- Hike uphill to see Little Navajo and Fifty Foot Falls
- Back to Campground
- Campground to Mooney Falls -- get a adrenaline rush via the Mooney Falls descent
- Hike to Beaver Falls and spend time there
- Back to Mooney Falls and ascent back to Campground
- Hike-out from Campground to Supai Village
- Breakfast at Supai Village
- Hike-out from Supai Village to Hualapai Hilltop
I will describe each of the falls in a follow-up post, but I'm hoping this post gives you enough inspiration to plan a trip to Havasupai.
What was the most remote place you visited? How was the experience?