The great Havasu Falls is every adventurer’s dream water fall destination. What makes it so alluring? It is located in Grand Canyon, Arizona, known for its immense and vast beauty.
With growing popularity, access to Havasu falls now requires a permit. Aside from hiking, there are other means of transportation, no matter what the excursion is worth it.
As a part of the Havasupai tribal lands, the cultured atmosphere around the falls makes it even more desirable to experience. Today, the tribe has made the Grand Canyon home for more than 800 years with 600 members of the tribe.
How Long Does It Take To Hike Havasu Falls By Hiking On Foot?
The hike itself is a 10 mile round-trip. Taking the elevation descend of 2,500 ft and then the same amount of gain back up into account, it’s a designated, full day adventure. It is estimated that the hike down could take up to 4 hours and then the hike back up can take up to 7 hours.
This isn’t your average stroll in the park hike. It is not technically difficult, but the amount of time spent on your feet requires a level of fitness and motivation to take on. It is known to be very strenuous, but the most worth it for the full immersion in nature and among the true wilderness.
Fortunately, the trail is easy to follow and chances are you will be surrounded by other hikers when embarking on foot. Getting a permit to explore the area of Havasupai is a hot commodity, so if you are able to apply for the permit as early as possible, do it.
More on reserving a permit here.
Be sure to take into account the time of year and extreme temperatures in the summer. Always start the day as early as possible with plenty of water and snacks. Always know your limits and have an emergency contact plan.
Guide Tours By Horse
Hoping on a horse has become a common way to witness the majestic Havasu Falls. However, over the years the popularity has decreased, but it is still an option. Not everyone is willing to spend the day on foot and riding a horse offers another type of unique experience.
Waterfalls Of The Grand Canyon – With this company it is possible to pay for their horse transportation service or bring your own horse. Bringing your own horse requires that you pay a fee and provide feed for your horse. If you are staying at the Havasu lodge, the company can organize the horses trip for you. The tourism office can assist you if you are camping.
Cost – Round Trip: Hilltop to Camp & Back is $187
Havasu Fall Day Tour – from Lodge to Falls $60
Duration – 2-4 hours
Guide Tours By Mule
The Havasupai Tribe has their own mule service to offer visitors. Note that all reservations for pack mules must be made prior to arrival. Those reservations can be made here. The use of pack animals is becoming less and less common for personal transportation to Havasu falls due to the well-being of the animal. However, they are always available to carry your gear.
Havasupai Tribe Service – A unique day trip experience offered by the Havasupai Tribe where a pack mule will carry you and your belongings. The mule can allow people of all ages and ability levels to witness the beauty of the falls and its surrounding natural beauty.
Note: One pack mule can carry up to 4 bags at a maximum weight of 32 pounds per bag. The maximum size is 36 inches long, 19 inches tall, and 19 inches wide.
Cost – Between Hilltop Trailhead and Campground Entrance and Back: $400 round-trip
Duration -2-4 hours
Controversy With Treatment Of Horses And Mules
There has been controversy on the treatment of the animals and their use to transport people throughout the Havasupai Reservations. Many strongly advise against using any company that offers pack animal-supported tours. Apparently, all the companies who have been involved in offering these pack animal guided tours of a case of animal abuse and it is not to be taken lightly.
“For fifty to sixty years, visitors reported that the horses used for transporting tourists and baggage in and out of the canyon were grossly underweight, suffered from saddle sores and other injuries and were sometimes ruthlessly beaten for such behavior as collapsing on the trail.” source
Visitors have filed abuse complaints to attempt to save the horses and the apparent abuse but because it is going through the tribal government, it seems that no permanent change was being put forth.
A handful of foundations, like SAVE Foundation, and other volunteers and veterinarians have stepped in to help treat and protect the animals who have experienced abuse.
Remain aware of the situation and report any signs of animal abuse if you come across it.
Guided Helicopter Tours
For those who want to save the time and avoid hiking 10 miles to Havasu Falls, a helicopter tour is a whole other unique type of experience. Especially families with young children and the less physically able.
Waterfalls of the Grand Canyon – The same company that provides guided tours on Mule and Horse also offer the helicopter experience to Havasu falls. All three are great ways to see the attraction and avoid hiking 10 miles to get there.
Note: the price is subject to change and helicopter runs on first come first serve. The priority of use will always go to Supai residents first.
Cost – $85 one way
Duration – 8 minutes
From above, the Helicopter offers views of the landscape and surrounding wildlife that anyone can experience. The view of the turquoise waters from above will be a moment of a lifetime.
Can You Ride A Bike Or Dirt Bike To Havasu Falls?
Mountain bikes and dirt bikes are not allowed on the trail. Right now, the only ways to discover the area is through hiking, helicopter or a guided tour with a mule or horse. Riding a dirt bike or a mountain bike would be dangerous on this trail and would likely require a lot of bike hiking.
The residents of the tribe don’t even use other modes of transportation, other than walking and horse, in a strong effort to maintain the area as much as possible. On top of that, dirt bikes would cause noise and the disruption of the serene atmosphere and surrounding wildlife.
You can get to Havasu Falls without hiking, but the trip will require planning and making sure you have a permit to explore the area ahead of time. There is an option to witness the vast beauty through a helicopter, mule, or horse guided tour. However, the pack animals are more so for transporting your backpacks than you personally, due to the treatment and well being of the animals. The physical reward of embarking on a bucket list adventure via foot is incomparable and highly encouraged. Havasu Fall is no doubt a wonder of our world. For those who love adventure and to discover the beauty of the outdoors. Plan in advance, respect the wildlife, and be aware of all this adventure will entail.