The dry and barren trail through Havasu Canyon refuses to give up the secret of what waits just eight miles away: an oasis of tumbling waterfalls and lush greenery, with turquoise pools that would seem more at home in Hawaii than in a remote corner of Arizona.
That’s precisely the draw of Havasupai Falls, a roughly four-mile gorge in the Grand Canyon carved over the eons by spring-fed Havasu Creek.
The Havasupai Tribe have for years opened their land to those wishing to explore what may well be the Southwest’s most beautiful tourist destination.
But getting to Havasupai Falls isn’t easy. There are numerous considerations: permits, reservations, weather, hike difficulty and trip planning.
Hiking/campground permits are released for the coming season (March through February) at 8 a.m. Arizona time on Feb. 1 each year. Permits go fast. Within four to five hours, only the least desirable dates are available, typically November and February of the following year.
Starting with switchbacks down canyon walls, the trail quickly levels out as it threads through an ever-narrowing gorge. Plan on a minimum of four hours going in and six hours coming out, depending on your fitness level and backpack weight. And remember: No water is available along the trail.