Nestled within the heart of the Grand Canyon, is a breathtaking oasis that promises an unforgettable adventure for outdoorsy families. Famous for its vibrant turquoise waterfalls and stunning red rock formations, Havasupai is not only visually spectacular but is a testament to the resilience of the Havasupai people who have called this land home for centuries. Having recently embarked on an epic hiking and camping expedition in Havasupai with her family, Wendy Cox, photographer and mom of four, has conquered the challenging trails and gathered a wealth of practical advice to ensure a successful and memorable trip for families like yours. Wendy’s firsthand account is packed with expert tips and tricks for turning your Havasupai adventure into an enriching and enjoyable escapade for the entire family.

Hiking Havasupai with kids

Picture this. You’re scrolling through social media, and suddenly, you see it – a majestic waterfall cascading over a red rock ledge and flowing into the most unreal turquoise-blue water you have ever seen. You wonder if the image is some sort of Photoshop magic, so you investigate. It turns out that the water really is that color. The red cliffs are real, and the waterfall actually exists.

From the moment I saw my first photo of Havasu Falls, I knew that I had to go there. Quickly, I added it to my bucket list and started researching. I didn’t know right away if hiking Havasupai with kids would be something that could happen. I dug around the internet and asked friends who had been before, and I’m here to give you all of the tips and tricks for hiking Havasupai with kids.

What is Havasupai?

The Havasupai Reservation is located in Northern Arizona. The reservation is surrounded by Grand Canyon National Park. It is home to the Havasupai Tribe of Native Americans. Members of this tribe have been living in the area for longer than has been recorded. Some say they have resided there for more than 1,000 years. The United States government allotted the tribe 188,000 acres of land. As of the 2020 census, a little over 200 people lived on the reservation. Visiting the Supai village is a privilege. There is no other place on earth quite like it. 

Havasupai is a remote and stunningly beautiful area known for its vibrant blue-green waterfalls, red rock landscapes, and the Havasupai Native American tribe that calls it home. The name “Havasupai” translates to “people of the blue-green water” in the Havasupai language, perfectly encapsulating the area’s most distinctive feature—the mesmerizing turquoise waters that flow through Havasu Creek.

The term Supai refers to the village within the Havasupai Indian reservation. Supai Village is the only inhabited area in the Havasu Canyon and serves as the administrative and cultural center of the Havasupai tribe. Havasu refers to the blue-green water of the creek. Havasupai encompasses the tribe as a whole, reflecting their historical and cultural ties to the breathtaking natural environment of the Grand Canyon.

Why visit Havasupai?

There are no roads that take you down into the Supai village. The only way to access it is by foot or by helicopter. The trek from the parking lot trailhead to the bottom of the canyon is 8 miles. There’s something special about going places that you can’t drive to. Remote places like this are getting harder and harder to find. With the incredible beauty of the waterfalls, Havasu Creek, and the towering canyon walls on either side, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Havasupai is not just a destination; it’s a classroom where adults and kids alike can learn about geology, ecology, and Native American history in an immersive and enchanting setting. For families seeking an extraordinary blend of adventure and education, Havasupai stands as an unparalleled destination, promising a journey filled with awe, inspiration, and shared memories that will endure for generations. 

When to hike Havasupai

The best time of year to visit Havasupai with kids is typically during the spring and fall seasons. April through June and September through October offer ideal weather conditions for a family adventure in the canyon. During spring, the temperatures are mild, creating a comfortable environment for hiking and camping. The waterfalls are also likely to be flowing at their peak during this time. Summer can be extremely hot, with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38°C), making it less suitable for families, especially with young children. Monsoon season in Havasupai typically occurs during the months of July and August. This period is characterized by increased rainfall, which can lead to flash floods in the canyon. Winter can bring colder temperatures and the potential for snow, making trail conditions challenging.

Accommodations in Havasupai

Hiking Havasupai (with or without kids) is not a day trip. Anyone entering the reservation must have previously made arrangements with either the campground or the lodge in Supai Village. The minimum stay is 3 nights. A room at the lodge for 3 nights in 2024 is $2277. 2024 Camping prices are $455 per person per night, with a 3 night minimum as well. My family and I went in 2023, and the lodge was under renovation at the time. We stayed in the campground. Campground reservations can be difficult to secure (see below for more info). 

The campground is 2 miles from the Village of Supai, where the lodge is located. It’s an easy 2-mile hike, and you even get to go past one of the smaller but still amazing waterfalls – Little Navajo Falls. There is a part of the trail where you cross Havasu Creek, just before entering the campground. My kids loved going over the bridges. I was a tad nervous because we had our packs on, and the bridges were temporary (more on that later), but no one fell in, and we all made it to the campground safe and sound! 

Reservations at Havasupai

The increasing popularity of Havasupai over the last decade or more has led to a fairly complicated campground reservation system. The first order of business is to create an account with the tribe. Initially, you can try to get in on their lottery for reservation dates. The chances of you getting chosen in the lottery system are very slim. 


However, another option is to take advantage of another group’s cancellation. You can go to the website and click on the link for cancellations/transfers. This list updates daily with reservation cancellations. This is how we got our reservations.

The hard part about the cancellation system is that the reservation is already made for specific dates and for a specific number of people. You have to be willing to go for the dates available with the correct number of people. It took me checking every single day for months before I found a date and a group size that fit what we needed. And you have to snatch it up immediately when you see it, because by the end of the day the available cancellations have usually all been taken. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Additional resources

The tribe also has an official Facebook page with loads of great information. As your trip to Havasupai with kids draws closer, you’ll want to check into things like the weather and other updates from the tribe. Their Facebook page is a wonderful place to read the experiences of others who hiked there recently and read information that the tribe has put out regarding trail conditions, etc.

Pack mule reservations

One other consideration to make when planning your trip to Havasupai with kids is whether or not you’ll use pack mules. You can pay to have some of the tribe members strap your packs to a mule and transport your gear to the bottom of the canyon for you. More information can be found on the reservations page after you create your account with the link above. There will be a button titled “Your Pack Mule Reservation.” 

Preparing for the hike (where to stay the night before)

Once you’ve made all your reservations, you’ll want to pack your bags. If you need information on how to pack for a backpacking trip with kids, check out that linked post for tons of great ideas and gear recommendations.

The thing about hiking Havasupai with kids is that the closest overnight accommodations are located at the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn in Peach Springs, AZ. If you want to get an early start on the hike (which I highly recommend), you will want to be as close to Hualapai Hilltop (the trailhead) as possible the night before. 

Grand Canyon Caverns Inn is also the pickup point for the tags you will need to have on your packs if you are sending them via pack mule and the permit you need to get onto the reservation. All I have to say about this place is that I am glad we only stayed one night. It’s definitely an experience. It’s a little over an hour’s drive from the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn to the trailhead.

On your drive, you’ll come to a stop sign that seems to be in the middle of nowhere. Someone will be at the stop sign checking to make sure you have a reservation, so you’ll want to have your paperwork handy. Once you pass this checkpoint, you’re almost to the trail head! You haven’t even started your adventure and it’s already been quite a road trip! 

Hiking the Supai Village trail

The distance from the Hualapai Hilltop trailhead to Supai Village is 8 miles. I won’t lie to you; it’s a long hike and a hard 8 miles. You start with a series of switchbacks going down into the canyon. There is almost no shade for most of the 8 miles, so be prepared with lots of sunscreen and any other sun protection you want.

In the summer months, temperatures can surpass 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We made the trek in March. The temperatures were mild, but the sun was shining. I made sure everyone had lots of water and encouraged them to remember to stay hydrated. 

Supai Village is a wonderful sight to see after hiking for 8 miles! We stopped at the little cafe there and ordered a snack to share. Then we started on towards the campground. Just before you get to the campground you’re met with the most amazing view of Havasu Falls! It makes all of the previous 10 miles worth it. 

Finding a campsite at Havasupai

The Havasupai Campground has no marked sites. All of the spaces are first come, first served. The Havasu Creek runs right through the campground, so if you can find a flat spot beside the turquoise waters you should snatch it.

The campground has a spring where campers can get fresh, clean water to fill their water bottles, as well as composting toilets on each end of the campground. Be sure to bring your own toilet paper though. 

There are some picnic tables dispersed throughout the campground. You’ll have to get there early if you want to set up your tent near a table. In my experience, other campers will share the table with you if you ask. It’s hard to cook without a table or a flat surface. Campfires are not allowed. You’ll need to cook on a portable stove.

Mooney Falls

After your first dayjust getting to the campground, it’s time to explore. The far end of the campground overlooks another phenomenal waterfall – Mooney Falls. We hiked down to this waterfall on our second day. From the top, it looks like a treacherous journey getting down. If you’re afraid of heights, this might not be the hike for you.

In order to get down to Mooney Falls, you’ll have to use the metal chain anchored into the canyon wall. There was a pile of gloves at the beginning of the descent, but if you’re very concerned about having gloves, please bring your own.

The chain is very wet. It isn’t hard to hold onto, though. The spray from the waterfall is continually soaking the area where the chain is. You’ll definitely get damp on your way down, and back up, the chain. In the summer this would probably be very refreshing! In the spring we didn’t take too long to dry so it wasn’t unpleasant to get a little wet. When was the last time you were close enough to a waterfall to get wet in its spray? I say embrace this amazing experience!

We stayed at Mooney Falls for a short time. The kids wore their swimming suits and got in the water a bit. It was magical to sit there and take in the waterfall. Mooney Falls was my favorite of all the waterfalls we saw in Havasupai. 

Beaver Falls

The hike from Mooney Falls to Beaver Falls is about 3 miles. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but you will cross Havasu Creek several times during those three miles. As you’re traveling with kids, this will take a while. Parts of the creek are fairly deep, about to an adult’s thigh. The water wasn’t moving very quickly while we were there, but you will want to be sure that your kids are within arm’s distance when crossing the creek.

The rocks in the creek shift easily and are slippery in places. There was one crossing where almost everyone in our group fell at the same part of the creek! Plan on getting wet by bringing quick dry clothes or packing an extra set of clothes in a waterproof bag. 

Bridges and ladders

When you’re almost to Beaver Falls you will come to a series of ladders leading up and down the boulders. There is also a creek crossing that, when we were there, was too deep to wade through. There was an existing “bridge” made up of a couple of narrow logs/boards that led to a rope you could grab to help yourself up a ladder waiting on the other side.

This, by far, required the most bravery and skill to accomplish, but everyone in our group made it safely to Beaver Falls. The youngest member of our group was 11 years old. I was never worried about whether they would make it, but we had to work together to get everyone up, down, and across all of the many obstacles between Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls.

When we got to Beaver Falls, a member of the tribe was there making sure everyone who went to the falls made it back out. There was a storm coming in, and it did end up raining hard that night. The tribal member let us know that we needed to head back to the campground by a certain hour, for safety reasons. 

Footwear considerations for hiking in Havasupai

Footwear is another important part of hiking in this area. Because you will be crossing the water several times, you’ll want to have suitable shoes or sandals. This could be sandals, water shoes, or regular tennis shoes if you have a backup pair to put on after the hike. The actual hiking part requires sturdy soles, so if you bring water shoes, I would either change into your hiking boots after crossing the water or bring water shoes with a sturdy sole.

I will also note that my husband carried several children (and also me) across the creek more than once. It took a long time to take socks and shoes off and then put them back on again after crossing. He’s a trooper!

Havasupai wildlife

Another highlight of our hike on this day was the wildlife. The canyon has a rich biodiversity of native species, such as mule deer, bobcats and bighorn sheep. We came around a bend and saw several bighorn sheep just hanging out on the side of the trail. They took no notice of us and continued to eat their delicious green grass.

The calls of canyon wrens echo through the air, while colorful songbirds flit among the vibrant foliage as you’re hiking. Keep a keen eye out for the turkey vultures soaring overhead and the acrobatic antics of agile squirrels and chipmunks scampering through the lush undergrowth. 

The Confluence

Though we only made it to Beaver Falls, the trail continues to the confluence of the Colorado River and Havasu Creek. From what I have read about this part of the hike, it requires even more water crossings and is not easy.

It’s about 5 miles from Beaver Falls to the confluence. I don’t think I would attempt it with younger children. However, if I had teenagers and they wanted to do the hike, I think it would be a realistic goal to make it to the confluence.

Day three activities: rest, explore, and fry bread

The tribe requires a three-night reservation, so on the third day, we got to rest a bit. We hiked the few miles back into the village for a snack from the cafe there. At the top of the hill, just before reaching the campground, there is something you will not want to miss. A couple of tribal members set up a fry bread stand. My son said eating the fry bread was the highlight of the trip, which is so funny to me! After you purchase the fry bread there is a table with chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, peanut butter, honey, powdered sugar, and more. I think the kids put every one of the toppings on their fry bread!

After the most delicious fry bread treat we made our way back to the campground. We napped, played cards, swam in the turquoise water of Havasu Falls, and just enjoyed being in such an incredibly beautiful place.

The hike out of Havasupai

In all honesty, I was incredibly nervous about the hike out. Hiking down into a canyon and hiking all the way back up it are two very different things. The hardest part of the hike back, all of the switchbacks, is at the very end on the way back up. They come after hiking over 8 miles from the campground. The lack of shade made me nervous too, because if all went as planned, we would be getting to the switchbacks a little after midday, when the sun is high. 

Turns out I had nothing to worry about. The kids were literally running up the switchbacks at the end of the trail. They were so excited to get back to the car and take their packs off, they had no trouble with the switchbacks or lack of energy. I brought up the rear, and they were all waiting for me as I came up to the last turn! 

Hiking Havasupai with kids

Hiking Havasupai with kids is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of preparation and must be planned months in advance. However, all of the planning and preparation are worth it. As you navigate the rocky red landscape and crystalline waters of Havasupai with your children, the bond forged through shared challenges and the sense of accomplishment will create lasting memories for your entire family. Witnessing the wide-eyed wonder of your little ones as they explore this natural wonderland is a testament to the profound impact that such an expedition can have on young minds!

The breathtaking beauty of Havasupai, coupled with the educational experiences it offers, makes every moment invested in preparation worthwhile. It’s a journey that goes beyond the physical exertion, leaving you with a treasure trove of memories and instilling in your children a lifelong appreciation for the great outdoors. The experience is one that you will look back on for the rest of your life and think, “I can’t believe we did that!”

Have you ever hiked Havasupai with kids?
Would you consider it?

About the author

Wendy is a married momma who recently moved from San Diego to Virginia. She’s raising 4 human kids, 2 goat kids, 4 chickens, and one grumpy cat. She enjoys gardening, hiking, camping, backpacking, going to the beach, and generally getting out of doors. Wendy is a family photographer and also works at several local elementary schools as the garden educator. She dreams of traveling to all 50 states and beyond and believes that there is great beauty to be found in all parts of the earth; we just have to open our eyes to see it.

You can find more from Wendy online in the following locations:
Instagram: @wendycoxphotography
RWMC posts: Wendy Cox