You Don’t Have to be Beyoncé to Experience Havasu Falls

Jul 23, 2019

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If you, like the rest of the universe, have been following all the new, live-action (sort of) “The Lion King” movie hype, you might be familiar with Beyoncé’s music video for the song “Spirit.”

Released on July 16, the video features Yoncé in quite a few visually stunning locations, including a barren, sandy desert and smoky pink salt flats. But one of the most memorable shots from the video takes place in front of a vibrant, blue waterfall — which appears just after the first minute in the music video.

Unlike the animals in the movie, the waterfall featured in the music video is not CGI. The filming for this shot actually took place on location at Havasu Falls in northern Arizona, on the Havasupai Reservation. And yes, the water really does look that blue in real life. The falls have that unmistakable turquoise hue because of sunlight reflecting off the large amount of calcium carbonate in the water, and the striking contrast of the surrounding red rock canyon emphasizes the color.

In order to access the waterfall for the music video, Beyoncé and her team had to obtain special permission from the Havasupai Tribe. The falls were then shut down for several hours as Beyoncé and her daughter, Blue Ivy, were helicoptered in to shoot. Some people weren’t pleased with the shutdown, as paying guests had hiked miles to get to the falls and weren’t able to access them, but according to Lonely Planet, the Havasupai Tribe still held up their end of the agreement.

Havasu Falls (photo by Ayvaz Hrutyunyan via Getty Images)
Havasu Falls (Photo by Ayvaz Hrutyunyan / Getty Images)

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 a day to prevent overcrowding, and these permits are only released once a year, on the morning of Feb. 1. According to TPG’s associate news editor, Brendan Dorsey, permits for the entire year often sell out within the hour.

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. So, with such limited availability, there shouldn’t be any Beyoncé fan-related closures occurring in the area — like what happened after Justin Bieber filmed his “I’ll Show You” music video at a popular cliff in Iceland.

Related: Where to Camp, Stay and Play Near the Grand Canyon

Also, because most of us aren’t Beyoncé (unless Beyoncé is reading this right now — in that case, hi, huge fan), it’s important to know that hiking to the Havasu Falls isn’t an easy feat. 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 getting there, and then another five to six hours going back, with no coverage from the sun the entire way. The campground itself also pretty no-frills. You’ll want to bring all necessary camping supplies, such as a lightweight tent, food and plenty of water.

Travelers can also opt to use pack mules or go all Beyoncé and helicopter to the Falls. 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.

Featured image by Brandon Mutari via Getty Images.

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