Havasupai Camping Guide: Planning Your Trip to Havasu Falls

Havasupai Camping Guide-.-Miter Saws and Mary JanesA few months ago, I visited Havasu Falls for the first time. It was incredible! While I’d seen photos and had heard great stories from friends who’d been there, I didn’t quite understand how beautiful it was until I arrived. While I was planning the trips with friends, I realized there are plenty of photos of the falls and campground out there but there aren’t too many resources that clearly spell out how to plan your trip. This post is my solution; my Havasupai camping guide that will walk you through the permit process, the hike down to the falls, camping, and what to pack.

Havasupai Camping Guide: The Best Time to Visit Havasu Falls

Located in Arizona, it’s no surprise that a trip to the Havasupai Reservation can be HOT. When you plan your trip, make sure to carefully consider what you’d like to experience most. Are you most keen on swimming? You’ll love a summer visit to Havasupai. More interested in hiking and smaller crowds? The late fall months (when I visited) would be most ideal. Consider the following pros and cons when deciding when to visit Havasupai:

Summer/Early Fall

Pros: Amazing, hot weather perfect for swimming and spending you days in that gorgeous blue water

Cons: Tons of people, monsoon season could mean flash flooding, and potentially miserable conditions for the 9+ mile hike to/from the falls

Spring/Late Fall

Pros: Fewer crowds, more comfortable sleeping and hiking conditions

Cons: Water temps may not be ideal for much more than dipping your toes in depending on your tolerance for cold water

Havasupai Camping Guide-Miter Saws and Mary Janes

Havasupai Camping Guide: How to Get to Havasu Falls

Roughly 5 hours from Phoenix and 4 from Vegas, the Havasupai Reservation is an easy drive on paved roads. Once you arrive at the trailhead, there is parking and a small bathroom area. Note: There is no water at the trailhead so plan appropriately! When I visited with my friends, we camped in the parking area the night before so we could get an early start for the hike down the next morning.

Havasupai Camping Guide Miter Saws and Mary Janes

Map of Havasupai Miter Saws and Mary Janes

Havasupai Camping Guide: Obtaining a Permit for Havasu Falls

Permits are most likely the trickiest part of your trip, and they must be obtained in advance. Usually, all permits are sold out completely during the first few months of each new year. It’s a simple system that requires you to call in or, new for 2017, register online. If you’re calling in, know it can literally take hours to secure the correct permits so be prepared to keep trying! When we first began calling, it was nonstop busy signals for a while. Luckily, we managed to eventually get through. The last time I checked, the online reservation system was shut down due to volume issues with the host, so it may be best to simply call in.

One tip for permits for Havasupai is to have flexible dates. If you keep a flexible mindset, you can continue to call in the event someone cancels and a reservation opens up. You never know when you may be able to sneak in your trip despite permits originally being sold out for the year!

Here’s the fine print for the permit process:

  • Payment must be made in full at the time of the reservation
  • Only one card can be used to make the reservation
  • There are no name transfers or refunds offered for any reason
  • The reservation line is: (928) 448-2121
  • There is no dayhiking on the Havasupai Reservation; if you’re caught without a permit, you’ll be charged at least double the regular price

Havasupai Camping Guide--Miter Saws and Mary Janes

Havasupai Camping Guide: Havasu Falls Permit Fees

When planning a trip to Havasu falls, keep in mind that if you stay longer, your price per night decreases. This is because the reservation charges an entrance fee. I’ve never heard of any discounts offered other than Native Americans who have a current Tribal ID card (no entrance fee charged).

  • Camping: $25/night/person
  • Entrance Fee: $50/person
  • Environmental Fee: $10/person
  • Tax: 10%

Havasupai Camping Guide: The Hike Down to Havasu

From the Hualapai Hilltop parking area, the trail down to the Havasu Falls campground is 9.5 miles. Roughly 7.5 miles into the hike, you’ll reach Supai village where you will check in, obtain wristbands for everyone in your group, and find restrooms, a cafe, a small general store, and the helicopter pad. Overall, the hike in is easy, scenic, and on a clearly identifiable path (an initial section of switchbacks from the parking lot followed by a sandy wash with towering rock walls around you).

For the hike out, ensure you’re adequately prepared with plenty of water, snacks, and sun protection. If you will be hiking during the summer months, the temperature and sun can be a brutal combination. For this reason, most campers opt for a very early morning departure. Usually, most summer hikers are up & heading out of Havasupai Campground by 4-5 AM. When I visited in the fall, we began our hike out at 7 AM. The sun was still pretty intense as there is little to no shade for most of the hike. All this being said, if you’re smart you’ll have a fantastic workout coupled with gorgeous views and scenery!

If you’re not a hiker but still want to explore the gorgeous grounds and camp, you can opt to take the helicopter in/out of Havasupai. While fees vary, my boyfriend’s mom took this option and ended up paying $185 for her round-trip ticket. Additionally, if you’d like to hike but don’t want to schlep all of your gear on your back, the Reservation offers pack mules. As of 2017, it’s $121 each way for up to 4 bags. Some of our friends opted to mule their packs for the hike back up and split the cost. I personally would rather carry my things as I hike, but I wanted to make sure I included all options for everyone in this camping guide. 🙂
Hiking Distance to Havasupai Miter Saws and Mary Janes

Havasupai Camping Guide: Camping in Havasupai

The campground at Havasupai is gorgeous. Filled with trees, streams, and fun natural bridges, there are plenty of places to tuck away. Each site has a picnic table and lots of trees for those of us who love our hammocks. During my trip, I tested out my new

One important note is there are absolutely zero fires allowed anywhere in the campground. Also of note for some is there are no shower facilities. There’s a wonderful spring to fill your water bottles and containers and decently maintained flush toilets for your convenience.

Havasupai Camping Guide---Miter Saws and Mary Janes

Havasupai Camping Guide: What to Pack

Packing for Havasu Falls is like most hiking/backpacking trips, plus a few fun extras. Keep in mind that if you opt to hike in and out of the Havasupai Campground, you’ll most likely have all of these things on your back so remember to keep it light when possible!

Here are the Havasupai-specifics for what to pack, plus links to my personal favorite products that I take with me:

 

 

 

 

How I Will Explore China for 10 Days for $650 Including Flights!

Explore China for 10 Days for Less than $650--Miter Saws and Mary JanesFor as long as I can remember, China has been on my Top 10 list of countries to visit. While I’ve already been to Thailand, Japan, Nepal, Singapore, and a handful of other Asian countries, I was never able to get things in order for my Chinese visa. I’ve continued to have “explore China” on my travel bucket list ever since.

All of this changed a few weeks ago when I found an incredible Travelzoo deal for a 10-day trip for less than $650/person–including flights!! This is by far the cheapest package I’ve found in recent years; a savings of at least $900 if I were to book all of the included activities, accommodations, and domestic flights myself. I wasted no time in booking this adventure to explore China for my boyfriend and I in November.

While I usually am a huge advocate of DIY travel hacking, including using Airbnb, I opted for an organized tour for China due to the customs, culture, and sheer amount of things we’re hoping to pack into our 10 day trip. I did the same when I visited the UAE, and I can honestly say I’m so happy I chose the package deal for that trip as well. Not only was it nice to have most things pre-planned, it was a huge relief to have our transportation, entrance fees, and accommodations set without a single hassle.

If you want to explore China while on a budget, here are my favorite ways to save money while still seeing everything on your list:

Explore China on a Budget

Even if you opt for an organized tour like we are, you can still save money while you explore China. A lot has been written and discussed about the shopping culture of most organized trips to China, so I will cover my best tips for sticking to your budget even when tempted by the local goods and wares, too.

Get Out of the City

Our tour includes time in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi, and Hangzhou. During our down time, we plan to explore as many of the small villages and towns outside of the large cities as possible. If you want to make the most of your money while in China, get out of the city and explore everything in between. Your money will go further and chances are you’ll end up experiencing things that wouldn’t have been possible had you stayed only in the larger cities.

Opt for a House Share or Hostel

Instead of tying up most of your budget with pricey hotel rooms, consider staying in a short-term vacation home through Airbnb. If you’d like to save even more, go the hostel route and save hundreds of dollars during your stay. Most hostels in China equate to at least a 3-star hotel experience, have English-speaking staff, and are often housed in neat locations such as historic buildings or an older part of the city. If we didn’t already have hotels included in our stay, I’d definitely be booking a combination of an Airbnb house share and hostels while we’re in China.

Manage Your Money Properly

Foreign transaction and exchange fees can quickly kill anyone’s travel budget. Be smart about how your’re exchanging your money while you explore China as cash is a necessity, especially in smaller regions of the country. As with most any foreign country, here are a few quick tips to help you manage your money smartly while abroad:

  • Never exchange your cash at an airport; they have the worst exchange rates!
  • Check with your bank to see if they have any Chinese banking partners so you can use those ATMs for free or reduced fees
  • Opt for a credit card that has zero foreign transaction fees
  • Never leave your money behind in an hotel or hostel
  • Always separate the money you carry on you (a pocket here, a bag there–split it up in case you have any unfortunate run-ins with pickpockets!)

Leave Your Tips at Home

There is ZERO tipping in China; none! Even if you were to attempt to give someone a gratuity, they’d most likely look at you with a confused look on their face as they give the money back to you. Tipping is not customary in China as it is in Western & European countries. If this feels off to you, give it a few interactions and you’ll be comfortable in no time.

Haggle Like the Best of Them

While tipping is not customary in China, haggling definitely is. Chain stores and boutiques excluded, you can pretty much negotiate any price for something you wish to buy in China. A good rule of thumb is to never accept the price marked on an item. You should also never accept the first number given during a negotiation. Practice your skills at a local market and work your shrewd negotiation skills as you travel. Your wallet will thank you!

Pack Essentials Before Leaving

When I was in Nepal, I quickly discovered the need for a mask while traveling along the dirty, dusty roads in the major cities. I hadn’t packed one with me, so I had to purchase one at a local stall. Hello, 400% tourist markup! Now, I make sure to thoroughly research my destination so I know what I need to bring with me in advance. Not only is this a cheaper option, but it also saves time and energy when I don’t have to search for things in foreign stores and markets.

For China, typical necessities include a mask for your face, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper. 9.9 out of 10 public restrooms will not have any TP to be found (and most will be the open, squat-type “toilets” anyway).

Embrace the Street Food

I’ve had some incredible street food during my travels, particularly in Africa and Asia. One of my favorite, most memorable snacks was an egg-noodle-insect-soup concoction in Chiang Mai. To this day I have no clue what I ate but it was amazing.

While the mere thought of street food could send some straight to the bathroom, enjoying street food is easy if you adhere to the following rules: Never eat fresh produce from street vendors, always inspect your food before eating, and pay attention to how the vendor handles their food, tools and dishes. Eating thoroughly cooked, clean food is optimal. Plus, you’ll save nearly 75% versus eating at crowded tourist restaurants with silly English “picture” menus!

What are some of your travel tips for visiting China? Please share below!