Travel Tales: Havasupai Camping Experience

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The Havasupai American Indian reservation in the Grand Canyon has become one of the most sought after destinations for hiking and camping enthusiasts. This area, home to the Havasupai tribe, has beautiful landscapes and the amazing Havasu and Mooney water falls. Getting here takes some planning due to the fact that you must have a permit (and those permits go quickly), but it is well worth the effort. We asked one of our Ayoopa team members, Cojoe, to recount his first time camping and first time hiking at Havasupai. Check out his tips below!

Ryan in Havasupai

Q: How did Havasupai get on your radar for a hiking and camping trip?

Cojoe: My roommate at the time is from Arizona and he and his family grew up taking camping trips to the Grand Canyon and Lake Havasupai.  One day he was planning a day hike to the administrative office of Havasupai to acquire permits for his family trip later that summer.  (Note: To camp Havasupai you need to get camping permits early)  I asked him to get a permit for me to join he and his family later that year.

Q: Give us the quick and dirty on your trip details. How long were you there? How far did you hike? Did you camp? Carry your gear? Who went with you?

Cojoe: The total trip was about 4 – 5 days and 3 of those days were hiking and camping.  I flew into Phoenix, Arizona and stayed in the Tempe / Phoenix area over night.  The next day we drove to Flagstaff and spent the evening purchasing our food and snacks for the hike and preparing our gear.  Pre-dawn, we drove to the trailhead in Hualapai Hilltop, Arizona to park the car and begin our journey.  Still dark, we began our 8-mile hike to the campgrounds that are located at the bottom of the canyon in the city of Supai. From here, we settled into our campsite before heading out on the trails to see the falls the next day.

Ryan w the Falls

Q: Who would you recommend this hike to?

Cojoe: This hike is great for families, groups, and teams of all ages and skill levels.  Our group ranged from experienced hikers (my roommate) to first time virgin hikers like I was at the time.  We ranged in age from 13 – 60.  Anyone taking the hike should be in good physical shape, meaning that you are able to walk 10 – 20 miles under normal circumstances. You can rent a mule to carry your gear to the campground if you do not think you can make the 8-mile trek carrying the extra weight, but be sure to reserve the mule in advance to ensure your gear makes it to the grounds.

Q: What were the top gear items that came in handy during this trip?

Cojoe: The gear that we needed was as follows:

  • Lightweight tent
  • Lightweight bed pad or air pad
  • Properly fitted backpack
  • Hiking clothing that can be used for multi-purpose and has plenty of pockets
  • A flashlight or headlamp
  • Tissue paper 🙂

Havasupai Switchbacks

Q: What was the most memorable part of the hike for you?

Cojoe: Havasupai is a canyon.  It’s similar to a bowl.  You start at the rim of the bowl and the campground is at the bottom of the bowl.   The most difficult part of the hike is the beginning and the end.  There is a steep drop at the beginning/end of the hike.  If I recall, you drop 1,000 feet in elevation during the first / last mile of the hike which is a “turn-back.”  One would think that it is more difficult to walk up the turn-back; however, it was more of a challenge to walk down.  My muscles were less conditioned for walking down, which is similar to walking down a 100 flight of stairs.  Plus, there is snow and ice on the turn-back the closer you are to the top of the bowl.  This challenge made it all the more sweet to reach the campgrounds at the end of the day. The falls were amazing and I would love to do this hike again some day!

Are you planning to trek Havasupai? Let us take care of the gear for you! Check out our Phoenix tent rental, Phoenix backpack rental and Phoenix sleeping bag rental options now! Can’t find what you need? Our concierge can find specialty camping gear rentals for you at no additional charge!

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