Starting our hike
as i Take my first steps down the switchbacks of the Grand Canyon, I cannot believe that my dream of hiking to the bottom is finally coming true! this is my third time here at the Canyon and have wanted to hike down to the bottom since my very first visit, 15 years ago. My husband and I were here in 1996 and hiked the Angel Trail only about a mile and a half down. We so wanted to continue further, but were not prepared for the hike and didn’t have enough water to make it back. On our descent, I couldn’t believe how different the colors of the canyon were from below compared to the view from the top of the canyon. The red rock walls gave you a completely different view and perspective. I heard only one percent of the people who visit the Grand Canyon actually hike down to the bottom, missing the magnificence it has to offer. Since then, we always talked about planning a camping trip there, but never did until now. So today is the big day! I’m nervous and excited at the same time and have no idea what to expect for the next three days! This blog should help you plan a great overnight hike!
At the Hualapai Hilltop in the morning! It’s a little chilly so we dressed in layers since it will heat up fast!
My son Dean who lives in Flagstaff, Arizona is an avid hiker. He has been asking me and my husband to hike with him to Mooney Falls, in the Grand Canyon for sometime now and we decided it would be a great opportunity to spend quality time with him and his girlfriend Gina. We picked a date in early May when the weather would be perfect! With all the hikes that I have taken in the past, this one will be the most challenging I have ever done! My son did all the prep work and planned our meals, camping equipment, snacks, and packed all of our drinking water for our long hike down. I thought one liter of water per person was too much, but surprisingly we came close to finishing it!
The switchbacks going down
This hike is moderate in nature and with correct planning, is an achievable goal!
I know a lot of people hike the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail which takes months to complete, but I cannot imagine hiking longer than three or four days. A ten-mile hike to the Indian Reservation should take us about 5 hours or so. The weather is perfect since it’s 10 am in the morning and quite chilly at about 58 degrees. I know as soon as the afternoon gets closer, it will start to get really hot up to about 80 degrees. Hopefully we should be to the campground by around 3 pm and able to go for a swim. The view is so amazing on the way down that the time goes by rather quickly and before I knew it, we were at the bottom of the canyon with a mile and a half already behind us.
At some points the walls of the canyon are close together making shade which was an unexpected surprise! Time to rest and eat some trail mix!
The Canyon walls are a beautiful brown and red color which keeps changing as we walk. I’m excited to experience the little piece of heaven that comes from being disconnected from all of life’s constant technical interruptions. I yearn for the quality time with my loved ones that comes only with camping and being able to focus on all the small things in life that go unnoticed everyday. Our three-day plan is to hike the ten miles down to Havasu Falls in the canyon village of Supai. Day two, we rest and visit Mooney Falls which is a short, challenging hike down to the pool. Then day 3, we hike back up to the hilltop and then drive back to Flagstaff. Our destination is one of the Grand Canyon’s most breathtaking hidden spots, camping on the Havasu Creek. A bucket List must!
Hiking Distance in miles to the Reservation & Falls
- Hualapai Hilltop to Supai……………..8 miles / 13 kilometers
- Supai to campground………………….2 miles / 3 kilometers
- Hualapai Hilltop to campground….10 miles / 16 kilometers
- Campground to Mooney Falls…….0.5 miles / 0.8 kilometers
- Mooney Falls to Colorado River……..8 miles / 13 kilometers
Most of the hike was on level ground
making it easy to enjoy the breathtaking views!
Mules are available to carry your backpack for a fee, this made the hike much easier without all the weight of your gear and food. I am an animal lover and feel guilty about the mules carrying all my stuff, but wow, it was so worth it! We arrived to the Havasupai Reservation after about an 8 mile hike. There were bathrooms & a small convenience store and a few homes owned by the Havasupai reservation workers. The base camp was about an additional 2 mile hike. I was exhausted, but felt great! I was so happy our bags made it too! It felt like Christmas morning unpacking all the goodies that we packed to eat! Time to pick a great campsite!
We arrive to the Falls!
We pitched our tents right on the river and were settled in under an hour. We then headed over to the falls to swim! The Havasu Falls were more beautiful than I imagined! The water was refreshing! We will spend the night at our campsite, going onto Mooney Falls in the morning. These grounds are owned by the Havasupai Indians & were well kept. The bathrooms were clean & there is fresh drinking water available.
You will need a reservation to hike & camp on this reservation!
There is an Entrance Fee of $35.00
To camp here is $17.00 per person per night!
The mule carry is $45.00 (worth it)
The Reservation Phone Number is 1-928-448-2141
The Havasupai Pools allows swimming
- Trail Mix (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries)
- Granola Bars (2 a day)
- Blue Diamond Pecan Nut Thin Crackers
- Tasty Bite Jaipur Vegetable 1 Step dinner Pouch
- Tasty Bite 1 Step dinner rice Pouch
- Instant Oatmeal packets (organic raisins to add)
- Instant coffee (Starbucks Sticks) and Tea bags (2 paper hot cups)
- Organic Beef Jerky (avail at whole foods market)
After a long day of hiking and only munching on trail mix, we are so looking forward to our dinner. Our camping meals were all organized and prepackaged. We considered cooking more complex meals, but wanted convenience and went with meals by, Tasty Bites which are all natural with no MSG and are GMO free! They’re ready for heating up in a pot of boiling water and were delicious!
We used a small propane stove as shown above left. It’s lightweight and very efficient. You can test all different kinds of pre-made meals prior to your trip so that you can omit any foods that you don’t like. My son tried a few of these and picked his favorites. For dessert we had a hot cup of tea and M&M’s! For breakfast we again boiled water and added it to instant oatmeal with lots of nuts and raisins. Starbucks makes instant coffee which comes in sticks that taste just like home brewed! For some reason, everything tastes so much better when your camping! After breakfast, the sun was starting to warm up quickly, so we started our hike down to Mooney Falls.
Our hike down to Mooney Falls was a challenge for me since I don’t like heights!
When we arrived to the wall for our descent down, the hike starts with a short section through a cave. The climb down to the falls was very steep and treacherous. Having the chains along the wall did make me feel safe, having something to hold onto. Taking small planned steps is key with the falls since the mist was spraying towards the rock, making it slippery.
Mooney Falls is named after a miner named, Mooney who fell to his death in 1882. There are several versions of the story, but just the thought is enough for me to be a little anxious going down. The last ten feet is a ladder which feels very stable and once you are down, the reward is worth the risky hike. Mooney Falls towers above the pool about 196 feet high and the mist from the falling water hitting the aqua pool surrounds you.
The water is about knee deep and you can then continue onto Beaver Falls, which is another 3 miles down the creek. We were very content where we were basking in the sun, sitting on a huge rock. We all agreed not to do the extra hike down to Beaver thinking how much better could it be? Instead we decided just to enjoy the beautiful atmosphere. It was a moment I will not forget anytime soon.
The pool at the bottom of Mooney Falls
Camping Essentials for your trip!
- Lightweight 2 man tent
- Sleeping Pads
- Sleeping Bags
- One Headlamp per person
- Propane Stove
- Small Pot
- Rope to hang clothes & backpacks containing food (keeping out critters)
Camping/Hiking Clothes List:
- Warm lightweight performance jacket
- Comfortable hiking shoes
- one pair of sweatpants
- one pair of shorts
- two short sleeve shirts
- one long sleeve shirt
- two undies
- one extra pair of socks (if your wearing one)
- one bathing suit
- Beanie hat for warmth while sleeping if your cold
- Hat, sunglasses & sunscreen (preferable biodegradable)
Camping Tips & Extra’s
- Consider Lightweight hiking shoes that can get wet! (shown above)
- Don’t over pack! You can rinse out soiled clothes and hang dry easily!
- Don’t forget the little things like small pkts of sugar for your coffee/tea
- If you don’t own a Headlamp, buy one! Their only $19.00 and you will need it to go to the bathroom at night and be able to read and see in your tent! My most valuable tool
- A pillowcase to stuff clothes in for a pillow!
- Pack two extra (empty) Gatorade bottles to fill while down at the campsite, eliminating refilling your only one water bottle for cooking! Gatorade bottles are lightweight!
- Make sure you bring soap that is biodegradable! A good one is Camp Suds!
- Pack Antibacterial moist towelettes to freshen up giving bacteria the boot! You can rinse and re-use them! Since your swimming, you will stay pretty clean!
- Don’t forget your toothbrush!
The four of us after an amazing three days and a memorable experience!