5-Day trip to Havasu Falls, Arizona

Havasu Falls: Located outside the boundaries of the Grand Canyon National Park and not accessible by road, this beautiful blue-green waterfall oasis serves many tourists and visitors each year. The blue-green pools and clear water – minus the occasional flash storm that cause the water to turn chalk-red with mud – are part of Havasu Creek and eventually run through the small town of Supai, the capital of the Havasupai Indian Reservation. The ever changing landscape of the river and formation of pools are due to the large amounts of calcium carbonate in the water that settle on anything that falls into the river causing constant change and its distinctive travertine formations.

Havasu Falls

Discovery Ranch For Girls Recreation Director Jared Robinson shares in his own words the Havasu Falls 5 day experience with us:

“The last week in October we took a small group of students to Havasupai in the Grand Canyon on a 5-day backpacking trip. Those of us going on the trip gathered the week before to discuss the details of the trip and to make some of the meals and pack our food for the excursion. It was fun to see all of the excitement and anticipation that the girls had in getting ready for the trip.

The morning of the trip we packed out backpacking packs full of everything that we would need for the week; sleeping bags, clothes, food, bowl, water bottle and bladder, tarp, sleeping pad, among other essentials. We were, by some miracle, able to cram everything into the packs, with a little effort, and sometimes with a lot of effort. 🙂

We hit the road and realized that we had left a couple things behind so we turned around and grabbed them and finally were on our way by around 1 pm. We drove through Las Vegas, Kingman and finally arrived long after dark at the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn and RV Park around 7.45 pm, just before the rustic restaurant closed, thank goodness. We hurried in and had a great meal, delicious handmade burgers, and fries (or whatever you ordered really), before setting up camp by the light of the super bright full moon.

It was rather chilly when we woke up that morning and we discovered that there was frost on everything! All of our stuff was wet and/or frozen; even the windshield on the van was frosted over. So, we hung our stuff on the trees or fences, in the sunlight, and then drove down to the motel lobby (very rustic, nostalgic, original, and kinda creepy place) and had the continental breakfast while our stuff was attempting to dry. I must admit that I was pretty stoked when I found out that the campground had a continental breakfast and hot showers at no extra cost.
In time, our stuff dried out and we were able to pack up and get back on the road. On our way out of the campground, we decided to stop and take a picture with the bright green Brachiosaurus. We hopped back into the vans and commenced the 1 ½ hour drive to the Hilltop parking area at the edge of the Grand Canyon. We had lunch and greeted the Mules at the top of the canyon. We then donned our packs and started down the 8-mile trail to the village of Supai.

Havasu trail head pack animals

Havasu pack animals and trail

Havasu Trail conditions

We stopped every hour for about 15 minutes to rest and grab a snake, I mean snack, and then continued on. We arrived in the village after about 5 hours on the trail where we checked in and got our permits. Upon check-in, even though I had called to confirm the dates of our trip several times, they said that our last night was the 29th instead of the 30th like we had originally planned/reserved. So that meant that we had a little extra food with us for the trip but other than that it didn’t affect us all that much.

After check-in, we continued down the trail for another couple miles to the campground. The majority of us arrived at our camp spot just as it was getting dark enough to need a light. We then set up camp quickly, had dinner and went to sleep.

Havasu trail camping

Havasu trail conditions

We woke up on Wednesday morning and we built a shelter out of our tarps first thing as I saw the weather forecast was some rain possible that day and for sure on Thursday. We used several sticks, 70’ of parachute cord, 40 lbs of rocks, 5 tarps, 2 trees, 2 bushes, 2 crevices in the cliff and even a tent stake that we found to build the shelters. It was a great team building exercise for us. We affectionately called it “The Blue Fortress”. Even a few passersby commented on the creativity that was used to construct such a magnificent work of art.

After our home away from home was complete we headed to Havasu Falls and some of us played in the water, even though the air temperature wasn’t exactly So. Cal weather. We ate lunch and moved about ¾ of a mile up the trail to Little Navajo Falls and played for a while there as well. We had a great time climbing around on the travertine deposits and in and out of the pools created by the mineral water. After hanging out there for a while, we hiked the 1.5ish miles back to camp. and had dinner and chocolate fondue for dessert with dried mango and crystallized ginger and hung out until it was time to go to sleep.

Havasu falls pools

In the middle of the night, the forecasted weather became a reality for us so jumped up and made sure that everything was covered as it started to sprinkle on us. It sprinkled on and off for a while until it was time to get up and it let up for a while so we could have breakfast. We then hiked down the trail to the 190”+ waterfall called Mooney Falls. We took pictures and hiked through some tunnels to get a better look. After we emerged from the tunnels we started to head back to camp and it started raining pretty consistently. We took shelter in a largish/smallish cave and told jokes and stories. We then decided that the weather wasn’t going to let up so we went back to our camp quickly and found that some of our stuff got a little wet so we added a tarp on the open side of “The Blue Fortress” to keep more rain out and it worked wonderfully!

After the camp was all waterproofed as could be a few of us hiked the 2 miles back up to town and had a good look around, grabbed some postcards, stamps and even stopped in at the little restaurant and had some onion rings. We headed back to camp and had dinner and Rocky Road Chocolate pudding for dessert.

Interesting Fact: The Supai community is the only place left in the USA where their mail is delivered by Mules!
Havasu Mail Delivery Mules SupaiUSMailMules by Elf – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Friday morning we got up a little early and started getting our stuff dried and packed for the hike back to the top. We started out a little later than I would have liked as we had to dry out some of our stuff. We stopped at the village for a break and to fill up our waters. From there we made the long trek to the top, stopping for 15 minutes every hour or so. We made it back to the van in 3 separate groups. Everyone did a really great job. I was very impressed by the morale of the group and how encouraging they were of each other.

We loaded up in the vans after stretching and grabbing some snacks and a couple victory rounds of Hi-Chews (the candy). We then commenced our journey back to the ranch. Most, if not all of the girls slept for a good portion of the drive back, however, no one remained in the van when we pulled up to IN-N-OUT for dinner. After dinner, they fell asleep again as we made our way back from Arizona to Nevada to Arizona to Utah and then to the ranch. We pulled in late that night and it was super funny watching the exhausted girls do the Zombie walk back to their cabins to finish off their good nights sleep.

I must say that I was very impressed by the girls and how they handled all of the challenges that they faced with on the trip. They are strong young women who are going to do great things! I’m so blessed to be able to work with them. Thank you so much for trusting us with your daughters as they work through their challenges and discover hope, passion, and perseverance in the face of life’s adversities.”