Chasing waterfalls: Permits to visit one of the most exclusive falls in the U.S. open Saturday

Jan 29, 2020

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Permits to visit the Havasupai Indian Reservation — and the iconic blue-green waterfalls that cascade over red rocks cliffs — go live on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 8 a.m. MST, or 10 a.m. EST. The permits are for visits starting as soon as March 1, 2020.

And for travelers who, like myself, have this spectacular hike on their bucket list, you know that means it’s go time.

Not quite sure what all the hype is about? Just take a look at TPG associate editor Brendan Dorsey’s photos from the hike.

The Havasupai Reservation is located in northern Arizona and is home to the famous Havasu Falls. And before you ask, yes, the water really does look that blue in person. The falls have that unmistakable turquoise hue because of sunlight reflecting off accumulated calcium carbonate in the water, and the striking contrast of the surrounding red rock canyon emphasizes the color.

While Havasu Falls is a pretty sought-after destination for tourists, it’s extremely difficult to access. The Havasupai Tribal Council only issues a few hundred permits per day to prevent overcrowding, and these permits are only released once a year, on the morning of Feb. 1. Over the past two years, permits have sold out within minutes of opening, so we suggest that you’re up and ready to go at 8 a.m. on the dot.

Before you set your alarm, be sure that you and everyone in your travel group has already made an account, as that’s required to complete the reservation.

Permits cost $100 a night on weekdays and $125 a night on weekends, and all stays on the Havasupai Reservation require a three-night minimum stay.

Related: Where to camp, stay and play near the Grand Canyon

It’s important to know that the hike to Havasu Falls can be challenging — it’s no walk in the park, if you will. In addition to limited ticket availability, the 10-mile hike from the Grand Canyon is pretty strenuous. It typically takes between four and five hours to get there, and then another five or six hours to get back, with no protection from the sun in either direction. The campground itself is has no frills, so you’ll want to bring all the necessary camping supplies, such as a lightweight tent, food and plenty of water.

Travelers can also opt to use pack mules or helicopter to the falls, though the hike is definitely part of the entire experience. More information on that (and how to book) can be found on the Havasu Falls official website.

The Havasu Falls and the surrounding creek and land are sacred to the Havasupai tribe, and travelers who are lucky enough to score a permit should be mindful of this when visiting. Alcohol is strictly prohibited, as are drones. Visitors must also be extremely careful about staying on the designated trail, and offenses such as rock climbing, diving off the falls and removing rocks or plants are punishable with fines and expulsion from the site.

Additional reporting by Jordan Allen.

Featured image by Brandon Mutari via Getty Images.

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