These dates are preliminary depending on what PTO I get approved and permit availability.
This place has been on my list for a while and now that I’m the Intermountain West contingent of OCB I’m going to start posting trips out here. This trip is not difficult hiking, but a logistical challenge. The site is remote – we will pass through Supai, AZ, the only town in the continental USA that still receives mail by mule. Permits are controlled by the Havasupai tribe and were posted online for the first time last year and before were extremely difficult to get. They still are, as they were snatched up very quickly when they were posted this year. If we don’t get a permit – no trip. As this is on a Reservation they make the rules, so if you go on this trip you MUST be on a permit and NO ALCOHOL unless you’d like to pay the $1,000 fine for possession. There are no refunds for anything. Everyone that goes also has to be booked on one reservation, unless you’d like to get your own permit. As such, I will only book the trip for anyone who has paid me before the reservation date.
I chose to do this in midweek late April to hopefully avoid crowds. The average high is upper 70’s to low 80’s. The hike itself isn't too difficult – one gradual ten mile downhill hike.
I’m planning to do this as a 3 day, 2 night permit to get a full day at the falls. This is $171.12 per person.
I will be driving down from Salt Lake City through Las Vegas, so I can accommodate a few people arriving in either of these cities in my vehicle. Because the drive is so long coming from SLC, I’m planning a rendezvous at Grand Canyon Caverns – a campground and inn off Route 66 that’s the nearest thing to the road that leads to the reservation. It’s an improved campground with trees for shade, flush toilets, hot showers, Wi-Fi and even free breakfast. The sites run $42.76, tax included.
Breakfast starts at 0500 at the campground which is perfect for getting an early start at the trailhead for the long hike ahead. The drive from the campground to Havasupai Hilltop, the trailhead, is 66 miles down Indian Road 18. The parking lot can become crowded, so again – the earlier the better. After we park we start our hike down to Supai where we pick up our permits. There are stores and even a café here which I’ve read is rather good. I’m planning to have lunch here today thinking it will be more enjoyable to hike 2 miles with a stomach full of burger or indian taco rather than 8 miles uphill on the way out. This is around 8 miles and loses around 2,000 ft of elevation. The trail for the most part follows a dry river bed so hiking can be sandy at times.
From here the hike is 2 miles and couple hundred feet down to the campground where we check in and grab a site. The sites are dispersed along a mile long stretch of river. Sites have picnic tables, no fires are allowed though. There are four composting toilet facilities in the area. It seems that the further down river you go, the fewer people there are. There is a piped spring that is apparently potable, I’m still planning to bring a filter.
There are three sets of falls to explore and weather permitting, swim! No plans for today, just to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
We should be up early to dodge heat and to be at the Grand Canyon Caverns Campground at a reasonable hour. The 8 miles up from Supai is dry, so everyone will have to carry adequate water. From there it is one long steady climb back out to the cars where we’ll head back to Grand Canyon Caverns for victory feast and to make camp for the night.
Time to head home! Until next time!