Brady and I have always wanted to get into backpacking, so we decided to go for it with this trip. When we first heard about these gorgeous grouping of waterfalls tucked away deep in the middle of the desert, we were mesmerized. Around the town of Supai, Arizona there are five gorgeous oasis’s in the middle of the Grand Canyon. We decided between wanting to get into backpacking and wanting to see this area it was perfect. We flew into Las Vegas and rented a car and drove to the trailhead in Arizona from there, which was about a three hour drive and two hundred miles away.
The hike in is ten miles descending down into the Grand Canyon from the Hualapi hilltop parking lot at a elevation of 5200 feet. The hike winds and descends so deep into the canyon that when you look up at the trailhead you wouldn’t believe you were up that high at one point. The majority of the hike for us was covered with tall red rock walls on either side. We took this trip in February which is considered their winter so the beauty of the that was that there was barely any of else on the hike or in the campgrounds and around the falls. I have heard that later in the summer season the trailhead can be prone to flooding so the hike in could be through waist deep water.
The whole area we wanted to see is right outside a small town called Supai, Arizona. It’s a tiny indian reservation and is the only place in the United States where mail is still delivered by mule. You can also get a helicopter ride in or opt to hike in with your backpacks and supplies carried in by mules. We decided to opt out of either of those options because we wanted the authentic hike in and to carry all our stuff on our own. In the beginning ten miles didn’t seem so bad, but carrying as much weight as we did on our backs proved to be challenging and exhausting. This might be due to the fact that we just got into backpacking and probably weren’t packing weight very efficiently. By the time we arrived to Supai, my body was definitely very sore and I had very bad blisters; mostly again probably due to not having the best wicking socks.
The village of Supai would definitely shock majority of people as it’s so barren and hard to believe people actually live there. There is a small office to check in as you have to pay to camp there and they only allow a certain amount of the people there at a time. It was hard to get a hold of the office prior to make a reservation as they are very bad about answering the phone, plus it was winter season. After the village, it about another mile hike to get to the first waterfalls of Fifty Foot Falls and Navajo Falls. We arrived at these right before sunset and ate our dinner here and it was glorious…..and salty.
By the time we reached our campground it was dark. We set up camp and went straight to bed. It dropped to a low temperature of upper twenties. In the morning we explored the campground and loved the running stream that winded all throughout the campground and the plethora of trees to hang our hammocks from. Our first stop was Havasu Falls which was by far the waterfall I was most excited about and the whole reason behind coming. Havasu Falls is about a hundred feet tall and the most beautiful teal color water you would ever believe. I googled prior why the water is such a crazy blue and it’s caused by minerals that are in the water that give it this hue. We played around the waterfall and we even went in the water which was very cold. After Havasu, we hiked about another mile to Mooney falls. Mooney Falls is by the far the most impressive of the five waterfalls due to its height of 200 feet and the fact that in order to get to the base of the falls you have to descend down the canyon through tunnels and down a sketchy, slippery ladder. It’s a little frightening, but doable. As one guy just coming up from the falls told us, “It’s not for the faint of heart”. Mooney falls is very powerful and trying to stand anywhere near the base will result in getting soaked, but it’s height it so impressive and we even saw a tent at the very top and decided if we ever came back, we would camp there as well.
We wanted to make it to Beaver Falls, but it was an additional three miles past Mooney Falls, adding on a total of six miles to your trek. After having hiked ten miles in and knowing that we would have to hike ten miles out the next day, we decided to pass. Our only regret was only having one full day to run around the Havasu campground. In three days, we hiked almost 25 miles, so opting out of adding on so much more to see Beaver Falls was probably in our best interest. Although it looks beautiful and we would love to see it someday. Just be prepared to hike a total of 30 miles to see all the waterfalls.
We spent the rest of the day laying around in our tree hammocks reading next to the stream that flows through the campgrounds. I took a shower in the stream just to feel somewhat clean again haha! That night the sky was one of the most beautiful starry skies I have ever seen. Being that deep in the desert with no light pollution staring up at the stars is incredible. We laid in our hammocks between the tall canyon walls and watched the stars for quite awhile and it was one of my best memories. It’s moments like that, that make me feel the most alive.
The hike out was brutal due to the fact that we had hiked almost fifteen miles so far and our bodies were still sore from our packs and my blisters were so bad I didn’t have much skin left on my heels. The very end of the hike, the last two miles roughly was very difficult since you are going straight uphill coming back out of the canyon all the way to the hilltop with crazy elevation. Once we reached the hilltop parking lot, we were so excited! We drove back to Las Vegas and arrived in the evening when all the lights on the strip were in full flair, it was so cool coming from the barren desert to this lively, colorful city.
When we entered our hotel, we were covered in orange desert dust and basically looked homeless carrying our big backpacking bags through the lobby and casino. We spoiled ourselves that night with showers and room service and joked that we went from rags to riches haha! This trip overall is one of my best memories and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. There’s something so special about wanting to go somewhere and just going for it. We planned this trip on a complete whim and on such short notice. We had to scramble to go buy everything we needed and do our research to prepare, but there was something so exciting about how last minute it was and I wouldn’t trade this trip for anything. It lit a fire in me to travel more and get out in nature, go hiking, and to see the world. Camping and being our in the wilderness makes you feel alive and truly appreciate all the luxuries we have everyday right at our finger tips. When you are in the middle of the desert, you don’t have water or showers. You have to filter your water from a stream and bathe in that same stream, so camping and being out in the wilderness with no ammenities really shows you just how little you need in this world and makes you appreciate the little things and all we have.