The Havasupai Waterfalls are the most dramatic waterfalls in the Grand Canyon and possibly even the entire Southwestern United States. The Grand Canyon’s geologic layers stair step down from the rims to the Colorado River, and the steeper sections create waterfalls in drainages as they descend to the bottom.
The tallest, steepest geologic layer in the Grand Canyon is the limestone precipice known as the Red Wall, which circles the canyon like a ring on a bathtub. Havasu Creek arises from a spring (some estimates put the age of the underground water at around 30,000 years!) and flows down canyon. Below the village of Supai it begins plunging over a series of steep drop-offs as it descends through the Red Wall. These drop-offs are what create the Havasupai Waterfalls.
Havasupai is roughly translated as “The people of the blue-green waters,” which refers to the beautiful turquoise color of Havasu Creek. The color of the water is the result of having been stored underground – in limestone caverns or aquifers – for as much as 30,000 years. While underground, the water leaches out minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium, from the limestone. These minerals saturate the water and reflect sunlight, making the water a turquoise color.
Travertine Rock Formations
As the water flows over the ground, it deposits these minerals, which create travertine rock formations along the bottom of the creek. As floods come through and alter the stream bed, the travertine is uncovered and produces incredibly unique formations throughout Havasu Canyon.
New Navajo Falls
New Navajo Falls is the first waterfall as you descend from Supai to the campground. The trail doesn’t pass it directly, and if you don’t break off to the left as you’re descending at the right time you can easily miss it and end up not seeing it until you’re below it. As you’re hiking from Supai down canyon, you’ll leave the village and hike on a wide, sandy trail for about 1/2 mile. When it starts to open up start looking for trails going left. New Navajo Falls is about 300 yards upstream from the very visible Fifty Foot Falls.
Fifty Foot Falls
Fifty Foot Falls is first highly visible waterfall as you descend toward the campground. You can stay high and view it from afar, or you can take the left-heading trails toward the creek and swim in the fantastic turquoise pool of water below the falls.
Please Note: while Fifty Foot Falls looks like a great place for cliff jumping, and some people may even be doing it, we strongly advise against it. The travertine at the bottom of the creek is sharp, and many serious injuries and even deaths have occurred at Havasupai due to irresponsible actions on the part of visitors.
Havasu Falls is the namesake of the area and rightly so! You cannot miss Havasu Falls as the trail turns a corner and descends next to it. Stop and take some photos as you traverse alongside it. To reach the bottom of Havasu Falls, look for a trail heading right from the main trail after you’ve passed the falls (maybe 50-100 feet past). The trail will take you down a relatively steep, loose trail to the idyllic pools at the base of Havasu Falls.
Mooney Falls is the tallest of the 5 waterfalls, and is below the campground. After you’ve passed Havasu Falls, you’ll come to the campground. Hike through the campground and you’ll inevitably come to the top of Mooney Falls (the views are truly awe-inspiring from the top!). To reach the bottom of Mooney, you’ll have to descend the chains, ladders, and bolts down a 200-feet tall travertine cliff. This is a potentially dangerous descent. While it is technically easy to descend, a fall would likely be fatal.
Beaver Falls is the most remote of the Havasupai waterfalls. It is 3 miles below Mooney Falls, or 3.5 miles below the campground. So a roundtrip hike to Beaver Falls is 7 miles. The hike is gorgeous but rugged, and the route is very difficult to follow if you don’t know your way. We recommend joining a guided tour if you’d like to simplify this process and make the most of your time at Havasu. Beaver Falls is a stunning, cascading waterfall with excellent swimming, but doing Beaver is more about the whole adventure of getting there and seeing the canyon as well as enjoying the falls.
Check out these pages for more information: