A hike to Havasu Falls is the trip of a lifetime, a trek people from around the world come all the way out to the Southwest to complete. The turquoise waterfalls gently cascading down the Grand Canyon’s walls is other-worldly and truly worth a trip out to the desert. However, the hike to get to the Havasupai Indian Reservation is no easy task. It requires hiking upwards of 9.5+ miles in the Arizona heat, and hiking an additional 3-4 miles to reach other highly-photographed nearby waterfalls.
While a hike to Havasu Falls does take a decent amount of endurance and grit, it can be a much more enjoyable feat and adventure you look back fondly on with the right preparation. To ensure you’re both comfortable and content during your hike to Havasu Falls, I’ve compiled a list of my 10 must-haves when packing for Havasu Falls. All tips are based on my own personal experience in the summer of 2017, where I could’ve benefited from reading the same!
Layers of Clothing
Hiking in Havasupai can get extremely hot. When I went at the end of June, temperatures reached nearly 86 degrees by 10am. In addition to getting an early start, you should also pack your clothes accordingly to avoid overheating. The more exposed your skin the hotter you will feel. Instead of heading out in only a sports bra, start your hike wearing a thin, moisture-wicking, long-sleeve top, followed by a tank top underneath. If you start to feel to warm, strip down as needed but try to stay as covered as possible. Bonus tip: wear light colored clothing to deflect the sun.
Aside from the standard items you’d want to bring on a warm hike, such as SPF 50+ sunscreen and sunglasses, you’ll need to bring other sun necessities to stay safe and comfortable. This includes a wide-brimmed hat to provide optimal overall shade coverage for your head, Chapstick for dry lips (yup your lips will definitely dry out in arid desert conditions), and the ladies should stick to face make up with at least SPF 30.
At the time of this post, hikers are not allowed to do a day hike to Havasu Falls. The trek alone is over 19 miles out-and-back and wouldn’t allow hikers to truly experience all the beauty the reservation has to offer. Instead, hikers must obtain a coveted permit and camp overnight. To ensure a restful night’s sleep, I would recommend bringing a sleeping pad, sleeping bad, and tent at the minimum. The floor is rocky throughout the campground and would be uncomfortable to sleep on sans sleeping pad.
A backpacking trek isn’t complete without the right cooking supplies. Since you’ll be spending potentially a few days or more in the wilderness, you’ll want to come prepared to cook your food. This means packing a lightweight pot, utensils, dishes or bowls, cups, and a way to start a fire to warm your cook wear. When shopping for your food for your trip, stick to basic foods that doesn’t require much preparation.
Multiple Pairs of Wool Socks
It’s no secret our feet sweat when we walk long distances in the heat. This sweat combined with the friction of our socks against our bare feet is the prime suspects in blisters. Blisters aren’t entirely preventable but by wearing wool socks, you have a better chance of being able to prevent them. I’d recommend bringing at least one pair of ankle-length wool socks for each day you’ll be at Havasupai.
Electrolytes are necessary to regulate our nerve and muscle function, our body’s hydration, and blood pressure. When we exert a lot of energy or become hydrated during a strenuous hike our body needs extra electrolytes. Sports drinks such as Gatorade/Powerade are a little heavier to carry in your pack, but worth having on hand because they provide 50 percent more electrolytes and 25 percent more carbs. Pedialyte® is another good option for preventing dehydration while hiking.
One of the best parts of hiking to Havasu Falls is the astoundingly beautiful waterfalls you’ll encounter. Rather than drenching your hiking boots, bring a pair of sturdy water shoes with good grip to change into once you reach the falls. This will help you navigate the technical terrain while also keeping your main shoes dry and comfortable condition to hike in on your way out.
Backpack and Pack Cover
To transport all of your supplies, you’ll need to get a sturdy backpack designed for outdoor usage. Your backpack should include multiple compartments, a water-resistant body, and a rain cover on the rare occasion it rains while on your hike. Many backpacking backpacks also come with places for water bladders and bottles, as well ties to hold your sleeping bag or sleeping pad.
Fully Stocked First-Aid Kit
No matter the hike you take, it’s always wise to have a fully stocked first aid kit on hand. Risk of injury on long hikes increases, and it’s better to be safe than sorry when out in a remote destination. Some first-aid supplies you may want to have on-hand include:
- Butterfly bandages
- Adhesive bandages
- Gauze pads
- Pain killers
- Antibacterial ointment
- Antiseptic Wipes
Portable Cell Phone Charger Banks
Cell phone service here is spotty at best, and mostly dependent on your carrier. We noticed that individuals with Verizon got cell phone reception in the village and near Havasu Falls, whereas those with T-Mobile and AT&T only got reception in random areas. Although you may not be able to carry on the group text conversation while exploring Havasupai, it’s still nice to have some juice on your phone for videos and pictures. This is why I’d recommend bringing a portable cell phone charger bank. They’re lightweight to carry and most allow you to get two full charges.
What’s a trip to one of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls without a floaty to take a picture in? While this is completely optional and unnecessary, for all my other fanatics always on the search for the perfect picture it doesn’t get much better than floating on a mythical creature in Havasu Falls. If you do bring a floaty, it is essential and crucial to pack it out. We found many deflated creatures near the falls which take away from the beauty of this wonderful destination.