Havasupai Backpacking FAQ
· 2-3 T-Shirts: Synthetic (non-cotton), comfy, lightweight; for swimming, hiking, sleeping, etc.
· 1-2 Long Sleeve Shirts: Comfy, loose-fitting, any material - extra layer or for chillier evenings.
· 2 Pair Shorts: Synthetic (non-cotton), quick-drying, well-fitting shorts.
· Daily Underwear: Synthetic (non-cotton) and comfy while hiking.
· 3-4 Pair Socks: Synthetic (non-cotton) or thin wool blend, high or low rise, breathable, lightweight, extremely well-fitting, with arch support and padding if desired.
· 1 Sun Hat: Light-colored, comfy, breathable, covers face and neck.
· 1 Rain Jacket: Hooded, compresable, wind and waterproof but breathable if possible.
· 1 Warm Jacket: Fleece or thin down jacket (nano puff) as your main insulating layer.
· 1-2 Pair Pants: Comfy, well-fitting, lightweight, with built-in belt or belt loops.
· 1 Pair Thermal Underwear: Light- to mid-weight long underwear bottoms as a base layer or for sleeping.
· 1 Pair Hat/Gloves: Synthetic (non-cotton) or wool for cooler evenings and mornings only.
· Hiking Footwear (breathable and broken in)
· Water shoes
· 2-liter water capacity
· Flashlight or headlamp
· Extra batteries
· TP kit (small supply of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Ziploc to pack out used TP)
· Extra Ziploc bags (for trash, storage, etc.)
· Medications + extra doses
· Insect repellent (if sensitive to bites)
· Sunscreen (30+ SPF)
· Wide-brimmed hat
· Watch or some way to tell time
· Personal snacks/electrolytes (provided but if you have a favorite, feel free to bring it)
· Bandanna and/or travel towel
· Camera + extra film/batteries/memory
· 1 luxury item: book, e-reader, journal, iPod, cards, pillow, etc.
· Other luggage for non-backpacking items
· Luggage tags and locks
· Ear plugs
· Personal first aid/blister supplies
· Swimsuit (or swim in your clothes)
o Soap/shampoo (biodegradable soap required if bathing in Havasupai)
o Toothbrush and toothpaste
o Glasses, contacts, supplies
o Moisturizing lotion, lip balm
o Tissues, WetWipes
OTHER STUFF TO REMEMBER
· Photo ID and/or passport
· Airline tickets
· Hotel confirmations
· Credit cards and cash
· Cash or check for optional guide gratuities
PACKING AND GEAR
Q: What type of gear is provided?
A: For this backpacking trip we will provide a backpack with a full suspension support system (50- to 70-liter capacity), a sleeping bag rated to the appropriate temperature, inflatable sleeping pad rated very highly for comfort, personal mess kit (bowl, mug, utensils), and a set of collapsible trekking poles. These items are name-brand and our rental fleet is replaced every calendar year. Your backpack will be sized based on your height and pants size, which is collected in your Guest Profile. Please be accurate with this information and turn your forms in as early as possible! If you have other questions about the gear provided, please contact us.
Q: Can I bring my own gear?
A: Of course! But unfortunately there is no discount provided in this case. We find it is much easier for guests to use the provided rental gear to avoid having to pack and transport large, bulky, or awkward items. If you are bringing your own gear, you may consider using the specifications of our gear as guidance. If you need further guidance, contact us.
Q: I’ve never backpacked before; how do I best pack my backpack?
A: Start by putting your sleeping bag at the very bottom of your backpack, preferably in a separate compartment and in a waterproof bag (or trash bag) if possible. Then use the space inside your main pocket to load heavier gear items first, like water, dense food, fuel, or some gear. These heavier items should be packed low and close to the body for the best load control while hiking. Bulky items and lighter items go in the main pocket next, including clothes, tent fly, or toiletries. Finally, put items that you will need to access regularly (like warm layers, camera, sunscreen, energy snacks, and lip balm) in outside pockets. Remember to leave space for group gear and your provided tent.
Q: Will we have a chance to pack before hiking?
A: Yes, everyone will need to pack and repack, especially after some suggestions from their guide and a last look at a weather forecast.
Q: How much will my group gear weigh/how much space will it take up in my pack?
A: In addition to the provided gear (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, mess kit, trekking poles, and tent), be prepared to add 5 to 8 pounds of group gear like food, fuel, stoves, or other gear. These items will likely take up around 1/3 of the main pocket of your backpack. If you’re sharing a tent with another backpacker, have a plan for where you will be packing it. Most people split the tents so one person is carrying the fly and poles, while the other carries the tent body. Poles can go on the outside of a pack, but tent flys and bodies are bulky and need to go inside the main pocket of your backpack. If you have chosen a solo tent, remember you will be responsible for carrying the entire tent. See FAQ: ACCOMMODATIONS for more info on our tents including pack size and weight.
Q: How much should my backpack weigh?
A: This is highly dependent on your packing style. If you looked at our packing list and laughed at our suggestion for just one luxury item, your pack will likely be heavier than others in your group who are willing to forego the skin cream or the pillow for a couple days. Remember, this is an adventure vacation, and is the perfect opportunity to get outside your comfort zone. Most of our clients end up carrying packs that weigh between 35 and 50 pounds.
Q: What type of hiking boots are recommended?
A: This is a highly personal choice. Some people want more ankle support and others prefer to save weight. Some people can hike in cross trainers/trail runners and others need the arch support a boot provides. No matter what you choose, please make sure your hiking footwear is close-toed, sturdy, supportive, and well broken-in! For this itinerary, due to rough trails and generally warmer temperatures, we recommends a boot that is not waterproof (breathable) and has ankle support.
Q: What type of water shoes does are recommended?
A: You will be spending most of your in-canyon time wading and swimming so it is important to get something stable, comfortable, secure in current, with a hiking tread built in. Some examples of great water shoes include:
CHACO TEVA KEEN SOLOMON
Q: Is a sleeping pad really necessary?
A: Absolutely! These pads provide comfort but also are necessary for insulation from the ground. You may think you’ll be fine sleeping directly on the ground, but remember that the compressed portion of your sleeping bag underneath your body does nothing for insulation. Also the desert ground is very hard and you’ll want a good night’s sleep!
Q: What is a luxury item?
A: We can’t all be ultra-lightweight backpackers. Some of us just aren’t built to enjoy a trip where it is necessary to cut our toothbrushes in half. That’s okay with us. But we encourage you to carefully weigh (literally) the “wants” versus the “needs”. Pack your pack with all the required gear, remembering to add 5 to 8 pounds for the group gear you’ll receive upon arrival, and then decide if you want to bring your super-special-whatever-it-is. Experienced backpackers know to limit themselves to one luxury item. You choose: binoculars or pillow. Journal or cards or ipod. Your back will thank you and you’ll make yourself available to enjoy the things only wilderness can provide.
Q: Where can I leave extra luggage?
A: Extra items that you don’t need in the canyon can be left in the company vehicle and/or trailer. Please note that these areas are not climate controlled. A better option may be to leave your extra luggage with the bell desk at your hotel.
Q: What clothing will I really need?
A: Remember that every individual has varying tolerances and preferences when it comes to temperatures. In an effort to help you prepare for your adventure, we have given you a packing list. We have strived to indicate what items are seasonal and what items are highly recommended. These recommendations come from our experienced guides as well as from guests post-trip. We suggest that if you are unsure about an item of clothing after checking the weather forecast as your trip approaches, bring it. You can always leave extra layers behind in the van.
Many guests tend to bring too many clothes into the canyon. We suggest making an honest assessment of what you need and don’t need. The backcountry is home only to hikers, such as yourself, so wearing the same clothes for multiple days is the norm. This being said, we highly recommend never skimping on pairs of underwear and socks! An extra clean set is small, lightweight, and a much-appreciated reward after hiking all day.
FOOD AND WATER
Q: What type of meals will my Guide be providing?
A: All your meals and snacks, as noted in the itinerary, are included. Meals are created with dietary restrictions in mind, while still maintaining the nutrients your body needs for backpacking. We strive to provide fresh food wherever possible however when backpacking, dehydrated foods are key to controlling pack weight. Please make sure to provide us with details about your dietary restrictions and/or preferences in your Guest Profile.
Q: Do I need to bring my own snacks?
A: Plenty of snacks will be available to you at all times during the trip. We provide a variety of trail bars/mixes, protein sources, and dried and/or fresh fruit. You are welcome to bring your own favorite snacks as well, but remember to never leave food in an unattended backpack as squirrels will chew through your gear to get to any type of food.
Q: Do I need to bring water bottles or are they provided?
A: On your packing list you are asked to bring a certain capacity for water. This capacity can be in any form: metal bottles, Nalgene bottles, disposable bottles, canteens or a hydration bladder/reservoir. It’s up to you, but please make sure you meet that capacity in full. Depending on the weather and time of year, you will probably be asked to carry more than the listed capacity. We will supplement your capacity with 1-liter disposable plastic water bottles. If you do not want to use these, please bring extra capacity.
Q: Should I bring a water reservoir/bladder system?
A: We highly recommend a water reservoir system like Camelback or Platypus. These systems allow you to carry your water in a bladder inside your backpack, making it easily accessible via a hands-free hose that comes over your shoulder. These tend to keep people better hydrated as you are not required to stop, open your backpack, or get assistance in retrieving your water bottle every time you want a drink. 100 oz. size recommended.
Q: Do I need to bring my own water?
A: We want you to bring capacity for water (bottles or a bladder system), but no, you do not need to actually bring your own water. Water sources are available to us throughout the trip, or we will provide bottled water if/when a safe water source is not available.
Q: How fit do I need to be for this trip?
A: This trip is rated as strenuous. Guests will need the ability to hike on trails that may have physical obstacles or barriers with aggressive elevation change for up to 15 miles per day. In every case other than an emergency situation, hikes are one-way and are performed at a 2 to 3 mph pace with breaks. Remember that your backpack will likely weigh 35-50 lbs.
Q: What airport should I fly into/out of?
A: We recommend arranging all flights to arrive and depart from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). This airport is centrally located, is close (7 miles) to our recommended hotel and pick-up location (see below), and has the best variety of incoming and outgoing flights. Note: custom itineraries may differ.
Q: When should I arrive and when can I plan to depart?
A: We recommend arriving the afternoon your itinerary is set to begin (“Day 1”) and departing the day after it ends. If you must depart on the final day you’re with us, we ask that you not book your flight home any earlier than 2 hours after the latest projected return time (for domestic; 3 hours for international flights). Remember that you may be tired after your adventure vacation. For this reason, as well as the fact that return times are dependent upon hiking/cycling speed and other factors outside our control, we highly recommend booking your return flight for the day after your itinerary is scheduled to end. We cannot be responsible for additional expenses incurred for missed flights.
Q: What Host Hotel does you recommend in Phoenix/Scottsdale for pre- and post-trip lodging?
A: Most itineraries depart from the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites in Old Town Scottsdale:
3131 N. Scottsdale Road Phone: 480.675.7665
Scottsdale, AZ 85251 www.hiescottsdalehotel.com
Our guests receive special rates (based on availability) at the Holiday Inn Express. These rates vary throughout the year and are subject to blackout dates (mostly in March due to high demand in Baseball Spring Training season. Since pre- and post-trip lodging is not included with your itinerary, we recommend reserving rooms well in advance.
Airport shuttle (call hotel upon arrival to arrange) $15 per person. 7:00am – 10:00pm. You can utilize this service at the end of your trip, even if you are not staying there that night.
· Complimentary hot breakfast (Mon – Fri 6:00am – 9:30am and Sat – Sun 7:00am – 10:00am)
· Complimentary Manager’s Reception with beer and wine included (5:00pm – 7:00pm nightly)
· Complimentary parking for trip duration. Notify the hotel if you plan to take advantage of this service.
· Check-in is 4:00pm. Check-out is 12:00pm. Late check-out is available upon request.
TO RECEIVE THESE RATES AT THE HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS:
BY PHONE – call the hotel using the phone number listed above and ask for the “Arizona Outback Adventures” rate.
ONLINE – Go to www.hiescottsdalehotel.com, enter your check-in/check-out dates, and click BOOK NOW. Use Corporate ID: 100305740 to pull up our special rates. If you have any trouble contact Melody Alvarez by calling the hotel directly or emailing her at email@example.com.
Q: What will be my responsibilities on this tour?
A: While your tour is fully guided, part of the fun of adventure travel is learning how to be independent in the outdoors. At times (and when applicable) you may be asked to help set up or take down your tent, inflate your sleeping pad, carry your gear or manageable amounts of group gear, wash your dishes, or adjust your pace to accommodate other group members, safety, or permit regulations. If you are uncomfortable with any of these, please consult with your booking agent pre-trip or with your guide on tour. Additionally, we expect that all guests choose an itinerary appropriate for their individual needs and provides detailed information for every guest to allow them to do so.
Q: What are the provided tents like?
A: We provide name brand backpacking-specific three-season 1- or 2-person tents. These tents are lightweight (between 2 and 3 pounds), in good repair (we recycle our tent inventory every one to two years), and come with a full coverage rain fly with one to two vestibules for storage of gear. Backpacking tents are notoriously smaller than “car camping” tents, sacrificing head room to allow for lighter pack weights. The average length of our tents is around 90 inches and width varies by model. This trip is not mule or Sherpa supported so you will be responsible for carrying your tent. Make sure to leave space in your pack! Call us to get the exact model tent you will be provided.
Q: Should I share a tent or go solo? How does this work?
A: If you’re traveling with another guest you can share a 2-person tent and share the weight, or you can both opt to carry two 1-person tents. People often split the weight of the tent by having one person carry the fly and poles, while the other carries the tent body. Some solo travelers choose to carry the weight of a 2-person tent in order to have more space. Others prefer to share the tent weight with another guest. You’ll be asked to indicate your preference in your Guest Profile, including who you plan to share with. If you are a solo traveler you can select the “Single Willing to Share” option and we will do our best to pair you with another guest of the same gender.
Q: What is the Havasupai Campground like?
A: Tucked deep in a redwall canyon two miles past the most remote village in the Lower 48 (the village of Supai, AZ), the Havasupai Campground is a lush stream-fed oasis of cottonwood trees and meandering paths. The blue-green waters of Havasu Creek feed 100-foot Havasu Falls just up-canyon, and 200-foot Mooney Falls just down-canyon. At one mile long this casual “camp-where-you-please” campground rarely feels crowded. A natural spring supplies safe drinking water for the entire campground and composting toilets make our stay even more comfortable.
Q: Will my guide(s) be carrying a first aid kit?
A: All guides carry a basic first aid kit for emergencies. Your guides do not carry prescription medications. When preparing for your trip please be aware that hospital facilities may be a long way away, that a doctor may not always be available, and that evacuation can be prolonged, difficult and expensive.
Q: What are restroom facilities like in Havasupai?
A: Just a short walk from Basecamp, the Havasupai have installed composting toilet facilities. We do supply toilet paper in camp, but it is nice to have your own supply (especially if the need arises while hiking – see below).
Q: What if I have to use the restroom on the trail?
A: No worries! It’s easier than you might think. We follow Leave No Trace principles so guides carry a kit including a small trowel, toilet paper, Ziploc bags and hand sanitizer. If you prefer, you can put together a similar kit so you are self-sufficient on the trail. Please bring a couple small Ziplocs as these help us pack out our toilet paper. This is a type of rite of passage for outdoor adventurers so embrace it and don’t be afraid to ask your guide for helpful hints.
Q: What about feminine hygiene products?
A: These should be brought in a Ziploc bag. Please bring extra Ziploc bags for disposal after use and consider putting duct tape on the outside of the bag for privacy. Remember, your guides, whether male or female, have spent many days with groups in the backcountry. They have certainly heard your questions before and will always be helpful and mindful of your privacy. Plus they may have extra supplies should you need any.
Q: What if it rains/storms/snows?
A: Inclement weather is all part of going on an adventure vacation in the great outdoors. Nature is uncontrollable, so we cannot guarantee, nor can any guiding company in their right minds, excellent weather for your trip. If it rains, we’ll put on our rain jackets and pack covers (both required pieces of gear) and keep hiking. If it snows, we’ll add layers and keep hiking. Lightening is the only weather that could keep us off the trail. Our guides are trained to assess these situations safety and make decisions about taking shelter or carrying on. Then – you got it – we keep hiking.
Q: How do I prepare for the weather and elements I will most likely encounter on my trip?
A: We ask that you arrive to the start of your trip already prepared for the weather and elements we are likely to encounter. To do this, we suggest checking the forecast often as your trip approaches.
CHECKING THE WEATHER FOR THE HAVASU FALLS BACKPACKING
We suggest using weather.gov. Enter the following locations (in blue) for each of the trip timeframes (in green). Or click on the locations (in blue) and you’ll find a link leading you directly to the forecast.
Night 1 / Morning 2 Scottsdale, AZ
Days 2 – 5 Supai, AZ
GETTING IN TOUCH
Q: Will my cell phone work in Havasupai?
A: Cell phones do occasionally receive service to some extent in Havasupai. However this is not something you should rely on as the signal is spotty at best. Texting is the best way to communicate should someone need to contact you. If this is a possibility you should plan to hike back up the trail between .5 and 2 miles daily to retrieve these texts. With that being said, we encourage you to tuck away your phone and escape from day-to-day conveniences.
Q: How can someone contact me during my trip?
A: In case of emergency and you need to be reached, please give your friends and family the
Trip Emergency Number: 480-387-5558. Someone will be available 24 / 7 / 365. Our office will set into motion whatever means are necessary to get the message delivered to our guest(s). Due to the unique backcountry setting of our tours, this process could take upwards of two hours to be delivered, or sometimes have to wait until the following day. Know that we will make every effort to speed this process.
HIKING TRAILS AND TERRAIN
Q: What can I expect from the hike into/out of Havasupai?
A: While the hike into Havasupai is not extremely difficult, you should be confident in your ability to walk 10 miles, in the sun and heat, over uneven and rocky terrain. Check out our Training for your Adventure Vacation section in this Trip Planner for helpful tips. Our trail begins at Hualapai Hilltop at approximately 5,200 feet (1,584 m) in elevation and descends to the Basecamp located at approximately 2,800 feet (853 m). The Village of Supai, at mile 8, sits at approximately 3,200 feet (975 m). Within the first 1.5 miles of trail, we will descend close to 1,400 feet (426 m) through a system of switchbacks. After this section the trail levels out in a dry creek bed covered in boulders, gravel, and sand. As we hike, the canyon walls grow around us providing some shade. The canyon is completely dry up until mile 6.5 when the underground spring of Havasu Creek emerges. Cottonwood trees that feed on this creek will shade most of the remaining 3.5 miles of our hike.
Q: Are there any steep or exposed sections of the trails in Havasupai?
A: Yes, there are a few steep sections and exposed overlooks on the various trails we will be hiking. The Mooney Falls descent in particular has an extremely steep descent/accent. The trail consists of fixed chains bolted into the rock for support. The trail also features two short tunnels carved out of the rock. All hikes are optional. The guides will be sure to brief our guests on the specifics of each hike prior to setting out. Your guides are highly experienced in supporting and guiding you through whatever route you choose, so please share with them any concerns you may have regarding the trails or your abilities.
Q: Will we get wet during the hikes?
A: Oh yes! But this is part of the fun of Havasupai! Many of the scheduled day hikes require crossing streams. Our guides are always available to assist. Shoes are required when hiking through or swimming in Havasu Creek. We suggest several brands in FAQ: PACKING. Most of our guests (and all of our guides) do not bother to change into a swimsuit each time getting wet is a possibility. Instead, we recommend wearing quick-dry clothing (or wearing your swimsuit under your clothes).
Q: I see my lodging is double occupancy by default. What are my options if I am traveling solo?
A: All trip prices are based on double occupancy. If you are traveling alone and specifically request a room/tent of your own you will be asked to pay for the Solo Accommodations Upgrade. If you wish to share accommodations with another guest we will assign a roommate of the same gender if one is available. If no roommate is available, you will automatically be upgraded to solo accommodations. Please be advised there are a limited number of single rooms/tents available on most departures. Note: custom itineraries may differ
THE HAVASUPAI PEOPLE AND THE VILLAGE OF SUPAI
Q: Since we are on a Native American Reservation, what laws should I be aware of that differ from our own?
A: The Havasupai Tribe does not permit alcoholic beverages on their reservation and drugs are as illegal in Havasupai as they are anywhere else. Additionally, Tribal law does not permit the bearing of firearms on the Reservation.
Q: What cultural differences are important for me to understand in Havasupai?
A: The Havasupai are a secluded, kind and generous people who often come across to visitors as shy and quiet. In reality they can be very sociable and enjoy answering questions about their way of life and culture. We encourage you to interact with and learn about these people who have opened their sacred home to us. Out of respect for the Tribal members and their beliefs, please do not take photos of individuals or homes without first asking permission. Many of the Havasupai will allow their photo to be taken, however please be respectful of the fences and their privacy.
Q: What can I purchase or experience in the Village of Supai?
A: The Village is small but has a café and a general store. Each of these places accepts credit cards but cash is easy, quick, and reliable. We recommend small denominations. There are no ATMs available. The Village also has a small post office where the mail is delivered and packed out by mule train, the only place left in America where this is the case. Every piece of mail sent from here will bear a special postmark to this affect. You can usually buy postcards and stamps at the post office, but you may want to bring some just in case.
THE WATER OF HAVASU CREEK
Q: What is the water temperature in Havasu Creek?
A: Amazingly, because the creek is spring-fed, Havasu Creek remains a constant 70° to 72° F (21° to 22° C) year-round!
Q: Is the water in Havasupai really that blue?
A: Yes! We haven’t modified the color of the water in any of the pictures you’ve seen. Due to the high concentration of calcium carbonate (travertine) in the creek, light refraction creates blue-green water. That being said, there are times of year where the water in Havasu Creek may not be blue. See What about flash floods in Havasupai? Below.
Q: What about flash floods in Havasupai?
A: Flash floods can always occur in the canyons of the southwestern U.S. Due to the impermeable nature of the ground, water tends to flow downhill rather than soak in. This can cause flash floods, especially in the rainy season. While these events cannot be planned nor necessarily avoided, the Havasupai people have an early detection and affective warning system that generally gives those in the campground several hours’ notice. Often these flash floods are quick, uneventful and do not produce damage. However they can turn the blue waters of Havasupai a chocolate-milk-brown. Our basecamp is located on “high ground” in the campground and is rarely affected by small to moderate floods. That being said, based on the Havasupai’s early-warning system, an evacuation is always possible. An evacuation usually involves a casual hike to higher ground, and a short waylay on our adventure. Generally, trips continue as usual within hours. Remember that these vacations are called adventure vacations for a reason, and that nature is unpredictable and amazing. If you are traveling to Havasupai during the rainy season, we advise you to be prepared for this possibility and look at it as a unique opportunity to see nature change before your eyes.
Q: Am I required to tip my guide(s)?
A: You are not required to tip, however it is customary in the guided tour industry in the U.S. We pride ourselves on our outstanding crew and our attitude regarding customer service. The guides expect to meet and even exceed all your expectations. They appreciate gratuities for a job well done and always divide them equally. If you would like to thank your guide, the standard gratuity is 10 – 15% of the trip price. Often groups will pool their gratuity and present it to the guide(s) at the end of the trip. These are only suggestions. Tipping is at your discretion.