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Getting a permit for the Havasupai Falls hike: Everything you need to know in 2024

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The Havasupai Falls hike is one of the most bucketlist-worthy trails in the United States, passing several turquoise waterfalls cascading down the impossibly red cliffs of the Grand Canyon. But to hike this incredible trail, you’ll need to secure a competitive—and EXPENSIVE—permit through, frankly, a confusing process. So if you want to experience this paradise for yourself, here’s everything you need to know about getting a permit for Havasupai Falls.

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Couple holding hands in front of Havasu Falls in Havasupai, Arizona
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Before we dive into getting permits for the trail, let’s quickly back up and talk a little about the Havasupai Falls hike so you know what you’re getting into.

About the Havasupai Falls hike

Stats on the Havasupai Falls hike

Length

The Havasupai Falls hike is usually hiked as an out and back multi-day backpacking trip. From the trailhead to the Havasu Falls Campground, the hike is about 20 miles out and back. 

Couple sitting in chairs through a tent along Havasu Creek in the Havasu Falls Campground in Havasupai, Arizona

However, most visitors decide to hike past the campground to explore some of the famed turquoise waterfalls along the floor of the Grand Canyon, which can add up to an additional 20 miles to the trail.

If you want to learn more about what to expect, we have a whole article PACKED with everything you need to know about the Havasupai Falls hike.

Elevation gain

From the trailhead to the campground (roundtrip), the elevation gain is about 2500 feet. 

Man with a backpack and trekking poles hiking down the Havasupia Falls hike in Havasupai, Arizona

Again, depending on how many waterfalls you hike to, though, this could tack on up to an additional 1000 feet of elevation gain.

Difficulty

Challenging

That being said, I think most hikers with backpacking experience will do just fine on the Havasupai Falls hike.  My husband, Justin, and I recently backpacked this trail and, while it’s obviously challenging to carry heavy packs on your back for 10 miles at a time, there’s thankfully limited elevation gain as compared to the length of the trail.

Woman hiking switchbacks along the Havasupai Falls hike in Havasupai, Arizona

What is the Havasupai Falls hike?

When I was initially researching this hike, I was a bit confused about all the different terms I kept hearing—Havasupai, Havasu, Supai. So what’s the deal?

The Havasupai Falls hike takes you through the Havasupai Indian Reservation in Arizona, which is owned by a tribe that has lived in the Grand Canyon for over 800 years. Havasupai actually translates to “people of the blue-green water.”

Sign at the Hilltop Trailhead along the Havasu Falls hike in Havasupai, Arizona

The trail takes you down past the town of Supai on the floor of the Grand Canyon, where the majority of the Havasupai people live. With just 700 residents, Supai is believed to be the most remote town in the United States, given that it’s only accessible by an 8-mile hiking trail or helicopter and is the only town in the country to still receive mail by mule!

Two miles past the town of Supai, you’ll encounter the biggest star of Havasupai—Havasu Falls, a 100 foot curtain of bright turquoise water, pouring down a rocky cliffside of the Grand Canyon. 

View of Havasu Falls from a cliffside along the Havasupai Falls trail in Arizona

Havasu is the most famous of at least six named waterfalls along the trail, including Beaver Falls and Mooney Falls, so, in addition to being called the Havasupai Falls or Havasupai Trail, it’s also commonly referred to as the Havasu Falls hike.

Getting a permit for the Havasupai Falls hike

Anyone who wants to see the famed Havasupai Falls must buy a permit before they start the hike

You can either get a permit to: 

  • camp at the Havasu Falls campground from February 1 through November 30 or
  • stay at the Havasupai Lodge in the town of Supai from April 1 through November 30
Couple sitting in a tent along the Havasu Creek in the Havasu Falls Campground along the Havasupai Falls trail in Havasupai, Arizona

There are approximately 350 campground permits and 24 rooms in the lodge available each day.

Both the campground and lodge reservations are exclusively sold as four day, three night permits—so regardless if you want to stay in Havasupai one night or seven, your only option is to purchase one for three nights.

When can you get a permit for the Havasupai Falls hike

Permits go on sale every February 1 at 8 AM Arizona Time at Havasupai Reservations for the campground or Havasupai Lodge Reservations for the lodge.  

This online reservation is the only way that you can purchase a permit. You used to be able to call to make a reservation, but that’s no longer available and there’s no walk-up or same day permits sold.

Woman walking through the water in Beaver Falls along the Havasupai Falls hike in Havasupai, Arizona

In order to purchase a permit, you’ll need to create a profile on the appropriate website (depending on whether you want to stay at the campground or the lodge), which includes providing basic information, like your name, email address, and credit card information.

Permits can sell out for desirable dates, like in the spring or fall, within minutes after they go on sale. Accordingly, we’d strongly recommend setting up your profile before February 1, so you can be signed in and ready to go on that day just before 8 AM. That way, you’ll be much more likely to score a permit for your desired dates!

Screenshot of the Havasupai Campgrounds Reservation webpage

One person can reserve permits for up to 12 people for the campground or for up to three rooms in the lodge (each of which holds four people) at one time. The person who purchases the permits is called the Trip Leader and must be present with a valid photo ID in order for you to pick up the necessary paperwork at the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn right before your hike. 

Even if you’ve set up a profile before February 1, expect sheer chaos when the reservations initially open. THOUSANDS of people flood the website at one time, which usually results in it crashing for many of the visitors. If this happens, don’t panic and keep trying—even if it takes hours and hours, you’ll eventually get through!

Tip: Remember that Arizona does not recognize daylight savings time—so be sure you double check that you have an alarm set for 8 AM in the correct time zone on February 1 correctly! 
Couple holding hands in front of Mooney Falls along the Havasupai Falls trail in Havasupai, Arizona

Permits remain on sale on the websites throughout the camping season, although, as noted above, most of the desirable dates (i.e., for spring and fall) sell out the first date that permits become available. However, if you’re okay visiting Havasupai during the colder or hotter months, you’ll have a lot more flexibility to purchase permits weeks or even months after reservations have been available.

How to get a permit for Havasupai Falls

How to make Havasu Falls Campground reservations

  1. Log in at Havasupai Reservations.
  2. Click on the “Dashboard” in the upper right hand corner.
  3. Click on the “Make a campground reservation” button.
  4. Follow the prompts to choose the amount of people in your reservation and your preferred dates on the calendar.

    Note that, on the calendar, you’ll need to select four black dates in a row—you are not able to make reservations for a four day period that has any blank dates. Once you click on dates that you’re interested in, you’ll only have two minutes to proceed to check out before the permits are made available to other visitors. 
  5. Check out. This is also timed at two minutes, which is why it’s a good idea to have your profile and credit card information locked and loaded before February 1. 
Screenshot of Havasupai Campground reservation webpage

How to make Havasupai Lodge reservations

  1. Log in at Havasupai Lodge Reservations.
  2. Click on the “Dashboard” in the upper right hand corner.
  3. Click on the “Make a lodge reservation” button.
  4. Follow the prompts to choose the amount of rooms you want to reserve and your preferred dates on the calendar.

    Note that, on the calendar, you’ll need to select four black dates in a row—you are not able to make reservations for a four day period that has any blank dates. Once you click on dates that you’re interested in, you’ll only have two minutes to proceed to check out before the permits are made available to other visitors. 
  5. Check out. This is also timed at two minutes, which is why it’s a good idea to have your credit card information added to your profile before February 1. 
Screenshot of calendar on the Havasupai Lodge reservation website

How much does a Havasupai Falls permit cost? 

All right, friends, brace yourself—the Havasupai Falls permit does NOT come cheap. 

For the campground, a three night permit costs $455 per person, whereas the lodge reservation costs $2,277 per room. Even if you decide to stay for less than three nights, you will still have to pay the full fee.

Couple sitting in chairs along Havasu Creek in the Havasu Falls campground along the Havasupai Falls trail in Havasupai, Arizona

This is definitely pretty pricey for a primitive camping experience, especially considering this doesn’t factor in additional costs that you’ll incur from it, like getting to and from the trailhead, lodging the night before, and any additional gear you might need to buy.  

It’s also worth noting that the permits must be paid in full when you make the reservation—so if you’re purchasing permits for a large group, you may want to coordinate with them ahead of time!

I SERIOUSLY questioned whether camping along the Havasupai Falls trail was going to be worth it, given that, for my husband and myself, we’d easily be looking at spending over $1,000 on this experience. 

Man climbing down the chains near Mooney Falls along  the Havasupai Falls hike in Arizona

However, given how high this was on my bucket list, I knew I’d ultimately regret not spending the money on it. Plus, the price of the permits keeps increasing each year—for example, between 2023 and 2024, the camping permit increased in price $60—so if I was ever going to do it, it was never going to be more affordable than right now.  And after backpacking here, I have absolutely no regrets! 

Pssst... want to see our experience hiking along the Havasupai Falls trail? Check out our YouTube video to see our complete experience! 

Pre-sale lottery system for the Havasupai Falls permit

Given how competitive securing permits for certain popular dates has become in recent years, the Havasupai tribe introduced a new presale lottery system in 2024.

Essentially, between the beginning to the middle of January, you can log in to either the campground or lodge reservation system and apply for your top three preferred dates, as well as a preferred month in case those specific dates are unavailable, through the presale lottery system. This is subject to a $15 per permit non-refundable fee (i.e., if you don’t win the lottery, you will not get this fee back).

Woman standing in front of Fifty Foot Falls in Havasupai Falls hike in Havasupai, Arizona

At the end of January, the Havasupai tribe will select the winners and let them know the dates of their permit. At this time, the full cost of the permit will be charged to your credit card.

This is how Justin and I scored permits this year and actually got our first choice of dates!  

To be honest, there’s not a lot of transparency behind this presale lottery system. The Havasupai tribe has not shared whether there’s a quota of permits reserved for the presale system or, really, how the lottery works at all. From anecdotal experience from the various Havasupai Facebook groups that I’m in, though, it seemed that the vast majority of people that applied through the presale got one of their preferred dates, so I personally think it’s worth the extra $15 per permit fee. 

Couple with their feet sticking out of a tent along the Havasu Creek in the Havasu Falls campground along Havasupai Falls trail in Havasupai, Arizona

That’s not to say the presale system was without its flaws, though—for example, some people were assigned permits that did not align with any of the dates they had requested. And some people even reported getting less permits than what they had initially applied for. Because of these hiccups, I’m not sure that they’ll be doing this lottery system again in 2025.

Cancellations/Transfer List for the Havasupai Falls Permit

If you’re not overly particular about when you go on the hike or you have a lot of flexibility in your schedule, it’s actually quite easy to snag a permit from Havasupai’s cancellations/transfer list. Here’s the list for the campground and here’s the list for the lodge. 

Generally speaking, Havasupai Falls permits are non-refundable, non-transferable, and non-changeable, except through these official transfer systems. On these sites, you can list one, some, or all of the permits or rooms for your reservation. 

Screenshot of the cancellation and transfer list on the Havasupai Campground reservation website

You can either transfer them directly to a Potential Alternate Trip Leader, which is an individual that you must have designated at the time you initially made the reservations or, alternatively, to the general public. Newly canceled reservations will become available, at the regular permit price, to the public every day at 8 AM Arizona. 

If someone winds up buying listed permits, the person who listed them on the transfer list will get a refund of what they paid, minus a 10% transfer fee. 

Couple holding hands in front of the Havasu Falls along the Havasupai Falls trail in Havasupai, Arizona

This system is not only handy for permit holders who might have an emergency pop up at the last minute (although I’d STRONGLY recommend purchasing travel insurance for this trip, but more on that later!), but it’s also good for folks who weren’t lucky enough to snag a permit for their desired dates through the standard reservation process. 

What issues to be prepared for with Havasupai Falls Permits

Unfortunately, the Havasupai reservation system has definitely had some serious bumps over the last few years. 

In the both of the last two years, they’ve accidentally oversold permits for certain dates. Accordingly, some visitors’ confirmed reservations have had to be canceled and refunded—sometimes, mere days before their reservation was supposed to begin.

Couple walking across stones in front of Beaver Falls along the Havasupai Falls trail in Havasupai, Arizona

As you can imagine, people come from all over the world to hike in Havasupai—meaning that a lot of people have to coordinate flights, rental cars, hotels, and time off work to enjoy this magical place. So having a reservation canceled—especially last minute—can be disappointing and a bit of a logistical and financial nightmare. 

So how can you avoid this happening to you? Here’s a few tips to keep in mind:

Apply through the presale system

In 2024, they canceled reservations for overbooked dates on a last in, first out system. So, for example, if someone purchased a permit on March 5 and another person purchased a permit for the same overbooked date on March 6, the latter person would have their reservation canceled first, given they purchased it later.

Woman looking at the Grand Canyon along the Hilltop Trailhead along the Havasupai Falls hike in Havasupai, Arizona

Accordingly, if you secure a permit through the presale lottery system, you have a pretty solid chance that your reservation won’t be canceled, given you’ll be one of the first people to get a permit for that date!

Don’t apply for super popular dates

If you can swing it, avoid making reservations on incredibly popular dates, like Memorial Day, Labor Day, or weekends in the spring and fall. Given these are the most desirable for many visitors, they’re also more likely to get overbooked.

Get travel insurance

If you need to arrange non-refundable flights or hotels to travel to Havasupai, I’d STRONGLY suggest getting travel insurance. While the tribe will fully refund you in the event they cancel your reservation, you will obviously still be out the cost of airfare and hotels that you’ve already booked. 

Two plates of frybread in front of Havasu Falls along the Havasupai Falls trail in Havasupai, Arizona

Honestly, even if you don’t have non-refundable flights or hotels to worry about, getting travel insurance is still a good idea. Havasupai doesn’t provide refunds in the instance that you get sick or injured at the last minute (when it will likely be hard to get someone to purchase your reservation from the transfer list) or even in the event of adverse weather or a natural disaster. And it would suck quite a bit to lose your entire permit fee if the weather doesn’t cooperate or you catch a nasty cold the day beforehand! 

Tips for getting a permit for the Havasupai Falls hike

Sign up for the presale lottery system

I know that it’s an extra $15 per permit to apply for the lottery and that getting a permit through it is not guaranteed. However, for me, it was 100% worth it to have my permits in hand before reservations even opened to the general public and to avoid the madness of trying to snag reservations online.

Bighorn sheep along Havasu Creek along the Havasupai Falls trail in Havasupai, Arizona

Be online at February 1 at 8 AM Arizona time

Obviously, if you’re logged in on the reservations system and ready to go the second that permits go on sale, you’ll have the best chance of having your pick of dates.

Come up with a plan and coordinate with your group ahead of time

If you’re going to Havasupai with several people, I’d suggest coming up with a game plan ahead of time on a few dates that work for your group. 

Screenshot of the reservation page on the Havasupai Campground reservation website

It’s also a good idea to recruit as many people from your group as possible to get on the website on February 1 and have a group chat going so that, when one of you eventually gets through to the booking system, that person can secure permits for your group.

 From some of the Facebook groups I’m in, I’ve definitely read stories where groups have not coordinated well and ultimately wound up purchasing WAY too many permits—so the group chat is definitely key here! 

Choose less popular dates

The busiest months in Havasupai are April, May, September, and October, with weekends being the most popular. 

Woman walking through water in Beaver Falls along the Havasupai Falls hike in Havasupai, Arizona

Accordingly, you’ll have the best chance of scoring permits if you’re willing to visit outside of these months or on weekdays.

Pick up permits from the transfer/cancellation list

As mentioned above, there’s usually tons of dates available. If you have flexibility when you head to Havasupai, there’s really no need to participate in the madness that is the February 1 rush to get permits.

Couple sitting in a tent along Havasu Creek in the Havasu Falls Campground along the Havasupai Falls hike in Havasupai, Arizona

Phew, I hope you feel well prepared to snag permits for the Havasupai Falls hike. Do you have any questions about this reservation process—or about the hike itself? Let us know in the comments below!

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