Planning Your Visit to Havasupai
Embarking on a trip to the Grand Canyon, if you’re going to make the most of it, requires some real thought and planning. If you’re interested in doing the “Lampoon’s Wally World” style visit, where you drive to the Rim, stand there for a moment, and then leave – well, that doesn’t require any planning.
But if you’re going to visit the Havasupai waterfalls (highly recommmended!), or one of the other waterfalls in the Grand Canyon, then advanced planning is required. All these trips require reservations and/or permits, as well as gear, meals, knowledge, and possibly some training.
Below is information to help you plan your trip to the Grand Canyon and Havasupai Waterfalls.
If you’d like to take some of the guesswork and planning out of your trip, then we recommend joining a guided tour.
When to Go
The first question to ask yourself is when you’d like to go. This is a big question at the Grand Canyon and Havasupai Waterfalls because certain times of year are far better than others. Bottom line is you need to consider the temperatures you’d prefer, whether you want to swim, how early you’re willing to get started each day, and whether you want to gamble with possible flooding.
Here is a breakdown of the conditions during the different seasons in the Grand Canyon and Havasu Falls:
- The Havasupai Waterfalls are closed during this time, as is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. So Havasu Falls trips, Thunder River and Deer Creek Falls are all out during the winter.
- This is a great time of year to see Ribbon Falls, as Phantom Ranch reservations are often available last minute, and camping at Bright Angel Campground is easier to secure.
- Spring is the best time to backpack into Clear Creek and Cheyava Falls, as snowmelt often assures it will be flowing.
- It’s also fantastic for backpacking for Elves Chasm and hiking into Ribbon Falls.
- Spring is an excellent time of year to visit Havasu Falls – hiking is comfortable, days are long, and swimming is good.
- The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed until May 15, so most of the Spring is out for Deer Creek Falls and Thunder River.
- The Grand Canyon is hot in the summer – the bottom of the Canyon can reach as high as 120 degrees fahrenheit. It’s recommended that the only waterfall trip you do in the summer is Havasu Falls.
- Havasu Falls is still going to be very hot, and it’s important you start your hike early each day. But once you’re at the falls it’s quite nice. The water is 70 degrees year round, which is perfect when it’s 100 degrees outside the water.
- July and August are monsoon season, so it’s important to check weather reports for “Supai, AZ” and “Williams, AZ”. If there’s significant (40% or more) chance of thunderstorms, then go into Havasu Falls with extra caution.
- Autumn is great for all the waterfall trips featured on this website, including Havasu Falls.
- The second half of November can get cold, and the North Rim is normally closed so Deer Creek Falls and Thunder River aren’t possible.
For Havasupai Waterfall trips, it’s best to stay at the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn as it’s the closest lodging to Hilltop (the trailhead). It’s recommended that you arrive the at the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn the evening before and leave early the next morning.
For Grand Canyon National Park waterfall trips, the best lodging depends on whether you’re starting from the South Rim or the North Rim. For North Rim trips (Deer Creek Falls and Thunder River), it’s best to stay at a hotel in Jacob Lake, Arizona. For South Rim trips (Ribbon Falls, Elves Chasm, and Cheyava Falls), it’s best to stay in Tusayan, Arizona for easy access to the trailheads the first morning.
To get the best rates in Jacob Lake and Tusayan, using a budget website like priceline.com is the best solution.
Recommended Packing List
- Nylon pants and shorts
- Swimming suit
- Multiple pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks
- Water shoes or sandles
- Supportive hiking shoes or boots
- Cotton t-shirts (to hike in when hot)
- 1-2 long-sleeved fleece or wool layers
- Rain jacket and pants
- Wide-brimmed sun hat
- Warm hat in early spring, late fall and winter
- light-weight gloves in early spring, late fall and winter
- Long underwear in early Spring, late fall and winter
- Trekking poles
- Backpacking tent
- Lightweight sleeping bag
- Lightweight sleeping pad
- Camping pillow
- Stuff sac for clothing
- Backpacking stove
- Stove fuel
- Matches or lighter
- Cooking pots and pans
- Plates, bowls, utensils, mugs, cups
- Headlamp and extra batteries
- Sunscreen and bug repellent
Food, Snacks, Drinks
- Energy bars
- Electrolyte mix
- Snacks (nuts, trail mix, dried fruit…etc.)
- Breakfast food: instant oatmeal, granola, bagels, cream cheese
- Lunch food: bread, peanut butter, honey, chips, fruit, tuna packets, cheese
- Dinner food: dehydrated backpacking meals, tortillas, cheese, chicken packets, spices
- Water treatment (iodine, chlorine or water filter)
- Hammock (Havasu Falls only)
- Camera and batteries
- Mosquito head net
- Hiking gaiters
- Star chart