The Prettiest Fresh Water You Have Ever Seen

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Me, T, my brother Jason, my nephew Jacob, my nephew’s friend Sam, and Sam’s dad – Mike on the hilltop before the hike down

So, this post is about a camping trip we took back in May to Havasupai Falls, when the blog was planned, but not yet actually up and running. I knew that I would want to share about this trip when I started the blog because it is an amazing camping spot that has some of the prettiest water you have ever seen!

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Havasupai Falls is an Indian reservation on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon (northwest of Flagstaff Arizona).

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The Havasupai Tribe lives in the canyon on the Havasu Creek, and the reservation ends where the creek meets the Colorado River. The water is sourced from a natural spring and gets its gorgeous green/blue color from the large amount of calcium carbonate in the water.

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Mooney Falls

There are six waterfalls to explore/swim in, many miles of hiking trails, lots of caves in the walls of the canyon, and some old abandoned mines to explore. The first large waterfalls you come to after the village are New Navajo Falls and then Rock Falls (which many visitors like to jump off, although the tribe recommends not doing so).

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Exploring a mine in the canyon

Before you arrive at the camp site, you descend around and down to Havasu Falls, which is great for swimming, hanging out, and floating in inner tubes. Mooney Falls is a further hike past the campsite and involves a somewhat treacherous climb down the canyon (holding on to chains/metal pegs in the cliff, steep steps, and ladders). It’s fun and extremely rewarding, but not for everyone! The last set of falls before the Colorado River are Beaver Falls, which is a roundtrip hike of about 4-5 miles from the campsite.  The Colorado River/end of the reservation is about an 11 mile roundtrip hike from the campsite.

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The end of the climb down to Mooney Falls

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Mooney Falls from the bottom

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Rock Falls

The great thing about this special place is that the creek and waterfalls are ever-changing due to the water flow, so its appearance varies from year to year!

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Tris looking at Beaver Falls

From Kingman, we drove another approximately 100 miles to the trailhead to meet up with my family and a few friends of theirs. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce we arrived at the top, we got ready to set out for the hike to the campsite. The hike is approximately 9-9.5 miles from the top to the campsite. The hard part isn’t so much going down. The way back is a steady, slightly uphill, and the approximate last 1-1.5 miles on the return journey ascends the canyon at a steep climb. It’s best to start early because it does get really hot in the middle of the day, and there are long stretches of the canyon without any shade. The hike is approximately 3.5-4 hours for each way, but we did have an 11 and a 12 year old with us. We would have more likely done the hike on our own in 3-3.5 hours.

If you would prefer to hike, but not backpack in because you are bringing a lot of food, you can rent a space on a pack mule, which is $75 one way or $120 roundtrip (the mule can carry four 130lb bags, so you can split a mule with others).  It’s best to reserve these in advance, and to be mindful of your timing, as you have to drop off your bags by noon at the hilltop for the descent and by 7 or 8 am from the campsite, depending on the time of year. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can also helicopter down (I believe it is about $85 each way per person) or you may ride on horseback down and up the canyon for $187 roundtrip to the camp site (all prices are subject to change and were the prices at the time of writing this blog post).

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The campsite is pretty primitive, but is beautiful as it is beneath the tall canyon walls and along the creek.  Personally, I think the bathroom situation is great, no complaints there (clean, pretty well maintained, and the composting toilets limit the smell). Also, there is a natural spring that provides fresh water that does not need to be filtered, so you don’t have to worry about packing in fresh water or water pumps/filters.

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If you prefer not to camp, there is a lodge in the village at the bottom of the canyon that you can reserve in advance, but we think it is a much better experience to camp along the creek.  Camping is $57 per person plus $17 a night and a one-time $5 environmental fee. The lodge is $145 per night for up to 4 people plus $35.00 per person for an entry fee into the reservation. You technically don’t have to pack in all of your food because there is a store in the village, however, it is pretty expensive, and mostly packaged/processed foods with a few fruits and vegetables as everything is taken in by the mules or by helicopter. We ended up packing in all of our food for the trip, as we were able to put some of it in the bags that went on the mule. We packed in everything else in our backpacks (sleep bag, sleeping mats, tent, clothes, quite a bit of food/snacks, etc.).

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Rope Swing near Mooney Falls

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Rope Swing near Mooney Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To give you an idea of the food we brought on the trip to eat as healthy as we could, this is what we packed in:

Fruits/Vegetables

  • Cucumbers
  • Snap Peas
  • Avocados
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Dried Apples & Mangoes

Staples

  • Quinoa (made before we left & combined with tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, chicken, olive oil and red wine vinegar to make a quinoa salad for dinner)
    • Small tupperware with mixed olive oil and red wine vinegar
  • Hardboiled eggs (they last a few days if you don’t refrigerate them from the beginning)
  • Homemade Paleo Banana Bread
  • Homemade Paleo Cinnamon Granola (check out my recipe here!)
  • Almond Butter/Peanut Butter
  • Honey
  • Bread (combined almond butter or peanut butter, banana and honey for sandwiches for lunch)
  • Tuna (packed in sealed bags rather than cans)
  • Minimally processed, antibiotic free chicken packs in 7oz sealed bags rather than cans (new find and great alternative to tuna! – find here)
  • Steel Cut Oats for breakfast (not Paleo, but gluten free and easy to prepare)
    • Cinnamon
    • Hemp Seeds (small amount for oatmeal)
    • Maca Powder (small amount for oatmeal)
    • Shredded coconut (small amount for oatmeal)
  • Instant coffee
  • Annie’s Mac & Cheese – Definitely not Paleo, but we made it with coconut milk (small carton) and coconut butter (I bought a couple of small packets) – it was DELICIOUS!

Other Snacks

    • Epic Bars (these are some of my regular go-to pale snacks – our favorites are the lamb and bison ones, but turkey is great too)
    • Larabars (Apple pie – these are all Paleo ingredients, but not all Larabars are)
    • Beef Jerky
    • That’s It Bars  – T is obsessed with these at home as well
    • Dark Chocolate (melted on the way down, but re-solidified by the cold creek water)
    • Mixed Nuts/Seeds – Almonds, Macadamia Nuts, Walnuts, & Sunflower & Pumpkin Seeds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADuring our camping trip, we spent most of the days hiking to all six of the different waterfalls, floating in inner tubes (definitely worth the $3 at the grocery store!), swimming, exploring, eating, and hanging out at the campsite. I was surprised at how easily I unwound here, and just relaxed. I would wake up in the mornings a bit before everyone else, and hang out at the picnic table gazing up at the tall cliffs surrounding our campsite, looking and listening to the creek, and writing in my journal.  With no cell service, and no contact to anyone else except who was with us, I relaxed very quickly and felt so present the entire trip. It was a calming feeling to be in nature and reconnect with myself/others without any technical distractions and no connection to work. It was great for me to spend some time cultivating being present and mindful. I felt like a new person with a noticeable difference in my ability to pay better attention to things for a longer period of time.  I highly recommend taking some time, especially on vacation, to disconnect, digitally detox, and practice just being!

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Overall, this was a great trip that had plenty of husband/wife, brother/sister, aunt & uncle/nephew bonding time. The only one who missed out was our pup Scout! This trip was fun, active, adventurous, relaxing, renewing, and cultivating for personal relationships. We definitely have lasting memories from this trip!

If you have any questions, recommendations for food that you would take camping or any ideas for easy, but healthy dinners while camping, please leave a comment below!

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We Made it!

5 Comments

    • I believe it was to the left of Havasu Falls (if my memory serves me correctly). You can go along the left side and behind it for around 1/4 -1/2 a mile and there are a a couple of different caves that you can climb into. It’s a fun part of the canyon to explore!

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