Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How to Get a Havasupai Permit

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How to get a Havasupai Permit, How to get a Havasu Falls Permit
Getting a permit to Havasupai Falls is the first step in your adventure to the beautiful, turquoise falls, but how do you get one? And how far in advance? What about group size? These are all questions I hear all the time when it comes to wanting to travel to Havasu & Mooney Falls. I'll fill you in on some secrets, tips, and the know-how so you can have the best waterfall adventure yet!

I'll be up front with you - getting a permit to Havasupai is one of the worst and most frustrating experiences I've ever had. Now that you know what to expect, I can pass this info along to you so you (hopefully) won't become as frustrated as I did. First you need to know that as of 2018 the Supai Navajo Tribe begins accepting camping & lodging reservations every year on February 1st at 8am Arizona time. Office hours are 8am-7pm. Reservations typically fill up for the entire year within 7-10 days. There are TWO phone numbers you can call to make a reservation:



You may be asking yourself - why are there two possible phone numbers for each location? Due to the recent popularity of visiting these amazing waterfalls in social media, various articles, and photography, as soon as the reservations open, literally thousands of people are calling at once to get a spot. Havasu Canyon is one of those rare places that offers must-see grandeur with a tough permit system. The office is very small, and only 2-3 people are answering phones.


There is also an email which the tribe says you can make a reservation through. I have never heard of anyone being successful at getting a reservation through this email, and those who do end up hearing back get a decline on the permit (weeks after emailing them).

Now that you know the basics, let's talk about what happens WHEN you call them. Here's what happened for me:

I started calling them February 1st, around 8am. I kept calling, and calling...and calling. All day - nothing. I couldn't get through. I was trying to make a reservation for 8 people to go. I thought, "Ugh! This isn't good - I have 8 people depending on me to get a permit for the group. I guess I'll just keep trying!" Let me say that my job is an office job where it's not super busy throughout the day and I am able to make personal calls. This put me in a great position to call literally ALL DAY. I kept hitting redial alternating between the two phone numbers, thinking I'd have better luck with one. I tried one of those redial apps (which large groups will use), but it didn't work that great for me. Day 2 (February 2nd) comes around and I finally heard the ring tone. Music to my ears! Then it would ring, and ring...50 minutes later of ringing I hung up. This was getting sooo frustrating! Of course when calls came in to my office I would stop calling and take care of work stuff. This whole time I kept checking some of the popular Outdoor Facebook groups, seeing people posting and asking if anyone had gotten through yet. Slowly people responded that they got a permit, but not for the days they originally wanted. This made me not only jealous, but I also knew that at least people were getting through. I was determined to get that permit! Day 3 (February 3rd) I would hear the ring tone again, but nothing. An hour later it rang again, this time for about 2 minutes, when..."Hello, thank you for calling the reservation desk at Havasu. How may I help you?" I couldn't believe my ears when  finally, AFTER 17 HOURS TOTAL OF CALLING, that I heard someone speak into the phone.

The man asked what dates I wanted. We wanted to go over Memorial Day Weekend - I knew it was a long shot at this point but at least I had some dates to start with. He said it was already booked. I said, "Ok, how about the following weekend?" Booked. Ok, I told the man, how about you just tell me what dates you DO have available? He responded July 8th was the next open weekend with enough spots for a group of 8. I immediately said, "I'll take it!" At this point I didn't care what dates I got as long as I could go. In the back of my mind I thought, "Oh sh!t - it's gonna be extremely hot during that time! What am I thinking?!" I was very surprised that by day 3 of calling that February-June was totally booked. He asked for my name and phone number and gave me a confirmation number. It is important that you write this number down or save it someplace safe - Havasu will NOT email nor mail you any type of confirmation. The confirmation number they provide you is your key to getting into the canyon. 

NEW for 2018! (Updated Feb. 2, 2018)
You can now make ONLINE RESERVATIONS HERE! You will be able to select the dates that are available. Once you complete all steps & pay for everything, they will immediately send you a Confirmation Email with your receipt. This is the preferred method for getting a permit. Be advised that online permits typically sell out with 10 MINUTES!

You should get an email confirmation that looks like this:
How to Get a Havasupai Permit in 2018 

Join the Havasupai Facebook Page!


1 person, 2 days/1 night: $141
1 person, 3 days/2 nights: $172
1 person, 4 days/3 nights: $202

Weekends (Fri/Sat/Sun), Holiday weekday nights (Feb. 19th, May 28th, July 4th, September 3rd, and October 8th), and Spring Break weekday nights (March 5-8 & 19-22) will be charged an additional $18.33/night.

Fees include all necessary permits, fees, and taxes.

UPDATED 2017: Payment used to not be accepted until you arrived at the Tourism Office. This has changed for 2017 - you MUST prepay via Mastercard or Visa only over the phone. The tribe will ask for ONE payment for your group, to minimize paper work and fees on their end.  Also new for 2017 - no refunds will be given. After you check in upon arrival during your trip, the office will provide each person with a wristband or tag that you have to wear the entire time in Havasu Canyon, as well as a tag for each of the tents. These are checked daily by a ranger who patrols the campground. 

How much does it cost to stay at the lodge?
If you get a reservation at the lodge, you can skip the tourism office and go straight to the Havasupai Lodge. All fees are collected upon arrival, but you can only check in between 9am-5pm daily, so plan your 10 mile hike around these times to make sure you get there before it closes. There is no kitchen or food provided at the lodge. You'll need to come prepared with your own food and stove/jet boil. You can get food from the Supai Cafe or the grocery store in the village, but hours are unpredictable due to the remote location and prices are not cheap. Keep in mind that the lodge is still 2 miles from Havasu Falls, so you'll still need to hike to get to the water.

Lodging Prices
Up to 4 people per room: $175/night (up from the previous $145/night)
Deposit: $61 per room, per night (up from the previous $41)
Entrance fee: $55 per person (up from the previous $50)
10% tax

Cancellations for Havasupai Lodge
If you need to cancel your reservations, you need to do so at least 2 weeks in advance. You won't get your deposit back.

No day hiking is allowed. There are signs posted everywhere, and if you are caught in the area without a permit (or a reservation while walking to the permit office), they will fine you. Rangers do patrol the campground and falls. We got checked once while in camp, and once while at Beaver Falls. 

NO DOGS are allowed at Havasupai!
NO DRONES are allowed at Havasupai!

How to get a Havasupai Permit, How to get a Havasu Falls Permit
During Winter, when Havasupai is closed, is a great time of year to see Ribbon Falls in the Grand Canyon and hike along the Bright Angel Trail.

If you are worried about pack weight or maybe have knee/hip issues, an alternate way to get your gear to the campground or lodge is via Mule or Helicopter. If you aren't even up for the 10 mile hike, you can ride a horse the full route in & out. With any option you decide on, you must make arrangements a least 1 week ahead of time. Be sure that when you get a mule or horse that they are taken well-care of. Recently in the news, photos have surfaced of the animals not being cared for. Please check over the horse or mule for any signs of abuse before paying to ride them.

Rates for Mules & Horses 
(subject to change)
Round trip Hilltop TH to camp & back: $264
One way to OR from camp: $132
One way out (arrangements must be made in person through the tourism office one day prior to your departure date): $132

Bringing your own Horse
You must bring your own feed and pay a fee at the tourism office. Reservations are always required to camp or lodge with a horse, so mention this when you call to get a permit. Keep in mind that parking is extremely hard to find at the TH, and with a trailer it would be even more difficult.

Helicopter Info
Helicopters depart at 10am & 1pm, and accommodates people on a first come, first serve basis. Local Supai Tribe members ALWAYS get priority to fly first. The cost to fly one way is $85. My friend arrived at 6am to get in line to fly out at 10am. Because all the tribe members got to go first, plus with strong winds, he didn't end up leaving the village until 8pm. Be prepared to wait all day. He also said that the helicopters have frequent mechanical issues, so there may only be one helicopter to service a lot of people, and they can only fit 4-6 people in at one time due to weight load.

How to get a Havasupai Permit, How to get a Havasu Falls Permit
 The last stop for gas is in Peach Springs, AZ or Kingman, AZ. Fill up on gas here - you can also fill your water bladders with ice, grab last minute snacks, and use the restrooms before getting on the road for the last hour. 

On your Apple or Google Maps App, you can type in "Havasupai Campground Parking Lot - "Hill Top", Supai, AZ 86435". 
Here's a link

GPS Location of the Hilltop Parking Lot: 36.9791353,-114.1715494
How to get a Havasupai Permit, How to get a Havasu Falls Permit
 Route from Las Vegas, NV
How to get a Havasupai Permit, How to get a Havasu Falls Permit
Route from Phoenix, AZ

How to get a Havasupai Permit, How to get a Havasu Falls Permit
1. Plan on hiking here during the week. Weekends always fill up first.

2. Plan to come after Mid/Late August. This is when the kids and teachers are back in school, and parents are back to work. You'll have a much higher chance of getting the dates you want during late August, September, and October.

3. Have several friends calling for a permit at once. The more help you have, the more likely you'll get through.

4. Consider using an Auto Re-Dial App

5. The smaller the group, the easier you'll get a permit.

6. It may be frustrating, but don't give up on calling! If you give up, then there's no way you'll get a permit.

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How to get a Havasupai Permit, How to get a Havasu Falls Permit

What other questions do you have? What was your experience like? Let me know below!

Check out my post on Hiking to Havasu Falls!
 Read about hiking from Mooney Falls to the Colorado River Confluence!