Hello hello! Whether you’ve already scored a permit to visit the most remote village in the lower 48 or you’re just hoping to get your hands on one next year, this little jumble of words is for you! FIRST THINGS FIRST. Let’s get the damn lingo CORRECT.
Havasupai Indian Reservation: A Native American reservation named for the Havasupai people and surrounded entirely by Grand Canyon National Park. “Havasupai” means people of the blue-green waters. AND YOU WILL FIND OUT WHY.
Supai: This is the actual village that’s located within Havasu Canyon (an offshoot of the Grand Canyon). Supai is NOT accessible by road and the Havasupai Tribe administers the land, which is OUTSIDE the boundary and jurisdiction of Grand Canyon National Park.
Hualapai Hilltop: This is the trailhead you’ll drive to (if you’re hiking in) where you’ll be met by some curious mules and canyon mutts. While there are no services at the hilltop, there are bathrooms! Woooo!
Peach Springs: The last town and sign of “modern” life (using modern SUPER loosely here) before you reach Hualapai Hilltop. Literally. Once you turn onto Indian Rd 18, you can say goodbye to all cell service. From there, you’ll be at the trailhead in about an hour. Be sure you have enough gas for not only the ride there but back as well!
Now that we’ve got that sorted, let’s dive into this magical little world of water bluer than the sky…
Not only was this MY FIRST TIME BACKPACKING, but this was also my FIRST TIME CAMPING OUTSIDE IN AN ACTUAL TENT (because, yes, I’ve camped INDOORS in a tent), my FIRST TIME EATING FREEZE-DRIED FOOD (which is surprisingly GOOD), and THE LONGEST HIKE I’VE EVER DONE.
I scored permits for April 28 – May 2 and, since we were coming from San Diego, we drove to Hualapai Hilltop the evening before (April 27). Fun Fact: If you get to the trailhead the evening before, you can camp there! And here is where I have my first piece of ROOKIE MISTAKE ADVICE. Please, please, do yourself a favor and get yourself an easy, lightweight backpacking tent. We were the only NERDS trying to set up a tent with POLES, using rocks to hold it down… it was a mess. 😂Granted, our teepee looked hella cool. In the photo below, the brown building is where the bathrooms are!
The next morning, our hike began! Get ready for an 8-mile trek from Hualapai Hilltop to Supai. Once you reach the village, you’ll stop in town to check-in and grab your wristbands as well as a tag for your tent. You’ll also see helicopters coming and going but you’ll feel super accomplished, like, ya bitch I HIKED that shit and didn’t just fly eventhoimsotiredomgpleaseletmesitandnapsomewhereforeverthanku 🚁
I highly recommend stopping at the little convenience store in town for a FROZEN GATORADE. Sure, it may be overpriced, but after eight miles of sweating and wondering what the hell you’ve gotten yourself into, it’ll be the best thing you’ve ever had to drink. From the village, you’ve still got another two miles to get to the campgrounds. Overall, it took us about 5.5 to 6 hours from the trailhead to the campground.
NOTE: We started our hike at 7AM. I read a million blogs before this trip and so many folks recommended starting before sunrise, with some starting as early as 4AM! Of course, it all depends on the time of year you venture there but we were fine! There were plenty of shady spots to stop once we really got into the canyon.
I had SO many questions prior to starting this adventure. Like, I was literally messaging random folks on Instagram to ask, Did you bring walking sticks? (no) What kind of shoes did you wear? (these and these) How much water did you really need? (less than a liter) Was the descent to Mooney Falls as SCARY as it looks?! (surprisingly not!)
If you’re still struggling to figure out what to bring for this 4-day, 3-night adventure, take it from a noob: you don’t need as much as you think. Here’s my packing list, complete with links to get ya started! My entire pack was only about 20 pounds, versus some folks who struggled with 40+…eek, no thank youuuuu, sir.
Oh, and a hammock! I actually won this sweet Madera hammock in an Instagram giveaway. Also, instead of bringing two sleeping bags, we just slept on our sleeping pads and opened the sleeping bag to use as a blanket.
The best piece of advice I can give you for this trip is to NOT listen to TLC and DEFINITELY do go chasing allllll the waterfalls you possibly can. Only lame folks stick to the rivers and streams that they’re used to. 👀
Click here to learn all about the lovely waterfalls and each accompanying hike!
Spread kindness and cheer, xo