How to get to Havasu Falls Part 1
How to get to Havasu Falls Part 1
How to get to Havasu Falls Part 1: The Milky Way Chronicles
Havasu Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation is indeed inside the Grand Canyon and feeds into the Colorado River, but is not a part of Grand Canyon National Park. This desert oasis is a hidden gem that is not so hidden these days because of social media, and is a must-see for all of you adventurers out there!
Everyone always asks, “how did you get reservations?”. Well both Sarah (my adventure bestie) and I started calling on my birthday, February 1st, and called continuously until we got through. Feb 1st is the day they open up for reservations for the year. We both got reservations for April and August for large groups. This particular blog is about our 1st trip to Havasu this year to shoot photos of the Milky Way over the falls. Keep in mind when you’re calling, you’re calling in to their offices in Supai where there are about 2 people (maybe more) manning 4 different phone numbers and taking reservations for the entire season. They don’t have call waiting on those numbers either. I personally probably called at LEAST 500 times to finally get through.
You’re also competing with the tour companies that charge for all inclusive trips to Havasu Falls. The Natives love these clients because they guarantee a large amount of income from the mules that are used as well as money spent in the village going through on the way in and out.
Getting through is definitely the luck of the draw. The phone numbers are as follows: 9284482121 9284482141 9284482174 9284482180
Their website says if you just show up, they will charge you double the amount but will allow you to stay. I think this is something they USED to do. I wouldn’t do it if I were you because I watched people get turned away while I was there. Do NOT go without a reservation unless you are prepared to get turned away after hiking 8 miles in. Other option is to keep calling and be prepared to take off at a moment’s notice of a last minute cancellation.
First thing I did was create a private group on Facebook. In doing so I noticed TONS of public events on Facebook with people with extra spots on their reservations. Joining these groups is definitely a good way to score a spot if you are unable to get through on the phone numbers. Another option is to google Havasu tours. If you have the money, an all inclusive makes this very tough back pack trip a breeze.
On my Facebook Group, I invited individuals that I knew would be able to handle the type of trip we were going on.. What is it you ask?? A 20 mile hike RT to the campground with 50+ lbs of gear, plus multiple miles of hiking to Beaver Falls, town, up and down the campground, and back to Navajo Falls.. On this first trip this year I did a total of about 35 miles. I also made sure to post lots of information about things like my packing list, weather, cell phone service, available facilities, and more. I may have overdone it with the info, but everyone seemed appreciative. I made everyone pay for their permits and campground fees in advance to guarantee their spots on the trip. I did this because I didn’t over invite people on the trip and I wanted to make sure we used all 20 spots. We didn’t unfortunately because 4 people bailed out pretty much day of. The extra money was split between all of the drivers for gas.
We were originally planning on car camping at the top, but everyone seemed ok with leaving Vegas at 1am, driving in and getting on trail by 5 or 6 am.. Why do that?? We definitely didn’t want to hike with all our gear in the heat of the day.. Now that it’s June and temps are in the triple digits, it’s IMPERATIVE that you plan for hiking in early.
Now, in spite of having done this trip before, I definitely overpacked. I thought because I was the leader of the group, I should probably bring extra things to help people out. The extra weight definitely contributed to my blisters I got on the way in. My friend Kevin came out all the way from New York and he also got major blisters on the way in that affected him the entire trip. My advice?? Keep MoleSkin or Second skin on hand and the MINUTE you feel a hot spot in your shoes, stop and put some on. You will thank me for that advice. I use superglue to hold it on if I’m going to be hiking in water.
Our group made it to the town of Supai some time around 10 am. We stopped at the 1st “restaurant” we came to on the left to grab breakfast burritos before heading to the Tourism Office to check in. You NEED to have your ID for the reservation, as well as your reservation number. I made sure I had cash although they do accept credit cards there too. You also need to have all vehicles info, make model and license plate. They are now very diligent in policing everyone who comes through Havasu- they check campsites for tags every single day and they check you off a list when they run into you on trails as well.. Each person has a colored bracelet for that week with the name of the person who the reservation was under. Everyone in our group had my name on them for weeks because many of them didn’t want to take off their bracelets..
The final 2 miles in to Havasu Falls and the Campground were rough. Like I said I had overpacked, and I was just sorely out of shape. And, I was more in shape than many of the people I saw along the trail suffering on the way in. The hike is truly no joke, and you should not take it lightly. I will admit that when you turn the corner and first see the falls, all of that seems to disappear. Until you have to continue into the campground and find a place for your group to camp. I suggest doing that and then coming back to the falls to relax after; you want to make sure to get a good camp site.
Now the campground isn’t set up like most you go to. There are just picnic tables all over the place and areas you can take over. Sarah and part of our crew had managed to go ahead and scout the campground before the 2nd half of our group I was leading had arrived. Ironically, they picked the EXACT same place I camped last year when I was there. It was an awesome area with plenty of trees to hang hammocks on. I think I will do the hammock thing next year when I am there and save myself 5lbs from my tent! We all set up tents and hammocks and quickly changed to head over to Havasu Falls to relax the rest of the day. It was after 1pm by this time and we had missed the sun on the falls. Oh well, we still enjoyed our time there that afternoon..
Everyone headed back to camp except me, Kevin, Shane and Claudia. We took a trip 2 miles back to town to arrange mules to carry our stuff out the last day. We were concerned that if we didn’t, we were going to have some serious issues because of the weight of our packs and the blisters we were already dealing with. For approximately $90, a mule will take up to 4 packs weighing a total of 130lbs to the top of the canyon. We had to get to the tourism office before they closed at 5pm to schedule it. We stopped at the restaurant to have a cheeseburger on our way back to the campground and then made another stop at Upper Navajo Falls.
We got to Upper Navajo just as the sun was setting which made for some very beautiful photos. We didn’t really pay attention to the time and hadn’t brought headlamps with us so walked much of the way back to camp in the dark. Everyone was there having dinner so we joined in the social hour. We had plans to be up by 2am to shoot the milky way so it wasn’t long till everyone crashed out.
My alarm went off loudly and I quickly wandered around camp waking up the others who were interested in joining us. Not everyone made it up, but we still had a good size group of 8 to head down to the most famous of the falls, Havasu. My original plan was to shoot the falls with the Milky Way until day break, and then get a second image of the falls with a little bit of the dawn light for the foreground of my image. I didn’t have to do that because Daniel Britton had brought a ton of Lux Pro Flashlights with him; enough to light up the falls. Before we left we made sure to get an awesome group photo with the falls and the milky way above us. We chose to head back to camp to get a couple more hours sleep instead of staying up for sunrise.
The reason we planned to be up so early is because the climb down to Mooney Falls is a major traffic jam always. It’s only wide enough for one person, so if people are climbing up, you have to wait for all of them to go before climbing down. Add to that the treachery of the climb down stairs, ladders, and chains completely drenched by the mist of the waterfall. In spite of all efforts to get there early, our group didn’t make it there until about 10am. Part of the group headed down the falls and got stuck in the traffic jam there. I took a small group of us to take photos and check out the top of the falls instead of waiting. As the traffic jam cleared up, we made the climb down to the bottom of the falls.
There are two ways to hike down to Beaver Falls; one by mostly land, the other by mostly water. Each person in our group kind of made their own decision on which way to go that day. About half chose land through miles and miles of grapevine fields overlooking the waters of Havasu Creek. The other half chose the more refreshing route through the water. Kevin and I were slow going by land, thinking for sure that we were way behind everyone. But before long we had caught up with Shane, David and Claudia; we walked directly behind them for at least 2-3 minutes before they even realized that we were there. We continued on and took the top route into Beaver Falls.
The hike and experience at Beaver Falls is definitely the highlight of the trip; I tell everyone who goes to Havasu to make sure not to miss it. We arrived to about half of our group already there enjoying the water, surprised that not everyone was there. We joined them and it wasn’t long till the rest of the group showed up. We spent a couple hours there climbing, picnicking, jumping off the falls, and exploring before turning around to make the journey back. Ian joined me in a bit of dancer’s pose action; something I do almost every place I travel to. A bit downstream, we investigated the 65 ft cliff seen in the Devin Supertramp video; I recognized it as the place in the video featuring people jumping far into the waters below. No one from our group attempted this jump although some seemed interested in it for sure.
We meandered our way back with no sense of urgency at this point. Again, Kevin and I stuck to the land trail as did most of the group this time. Bryan and Ian were closely hiking with us; Dan and Ray were in search of a pair of missing boots they had lost along the way. The native Supai Ranger caught up to us not far from Mooney Falls and we spent some time asking questions as to the history around the area. It was quite intriguing.
It was our final evening in Havasu and the original plan was to again shoot the Milky Way. But the clouds had rolled in and the group of us having our packs carried out by mules had to have them up to the top of the campground at 7am sharp. So we all hung out around the three picnic tables at our campsite; cooking, eating, joking and telling stories until one by one each retreated to their beds.
I was the only one who got up early to shoot the sunrise, although there wasn’t much of a sunrise that morning. It was cloudy and overcast but I still made the hike up to Havasu to shoot it. Then I rushed back to camp to pack and get my gear to the mule pick up point. The native I spoke to their suggested that there would be a rainstorm by 10am. Our small group decided it was time to depart, with another small part of the group set to depart an hr later. Courtney had already headed out with all of her gear, Dan, Ray and Byron were staying a few more days and the other 5 were planning on heading out in the evening. Although it wasn’t flash flood season, I wasn’t interested in getting caught in a deluge trying to hike out.
We stopped in the village to get some food and rain parkas along the way and it started falling just as we were leaving Supai. The group who started behind us caught up to the blister crew right before the foothills. Most of the rest of the trail was without rain although as we hit the foothills and the switchbacks, we saw the storm rolling in. We had about 300 feet to go and we started running; no sooner had we reached the Hualapai Hill Top did the sky open and start HAILING of all things. We ran to get our bags from the where they had been dropped by the mules and escaped to the car. In spite of the long hike and hurting feet, we were laughing because of our race against the storm.
It took me forever to get this blog written- it’s now been 2 months since we were there. Thank you to all of my friends who made this a memorable trip; sorry if I forgot certain details of it!! lol If you are reading this and have any questions about our journey, feel free to join our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/havasufallspics
NOTE: Not all of the photos here are taken by me- the ones without watermarks are either from mine or Kevin’s cellphone
Reflection Canyon.. It was brought…
Photo Caption: Reflection Canyon.. It was brought to public light by a Nat Geo photographer named Michael Melford for a story called Glen Canyon Revealed in 2006. The canyon got “famous” when Apple TV added it to its screen saver in 2012. (I recently learned that Google added an image of Reflection Canyon to IT’S screen saver by another photographer- weird lol)
In 2010- a photographer name Ranier Grosskopf had seen the article by Michael and arranged to journey to the canyon and created a series of way pojints that I used to follow to get there 5 years later in 2015. I made sure to learn from his mistakes- I paid attention to the water levels in the lake and went there at its lowest level in end of April last year. I posted the images I got & became “friends” on FB and Instagram as a result with Michael Melford. He gave me props for making the journey by foot- he had done it by boat. I decided to make this an annual trip and went again last week.
The journey itself? For me it’s a 5 hour drive up to Escalante, UT.. From there it’s a 55 mile drive down Hole In the Rock Rd, parts of which can need a 4×4 to navigate. We were lucky, the road was in pretty good condition. I’ve since heard it’s been completely washed out; about a day or so after we left. From the point we parked, it’s another close to 10 miles over varied terrain with no trail. I have many sets of waypoints now from both Ranier Grosskopf and myself; mine has a steep but big short cut listed in it.
Last year I did it as a day hike with 2 friends. This year a larger group of friends accompanied me out there and we camped at the top of the canyon so we could shoot the milky way and the sunrise. It was an epic experience; one that was not easy and needed quite a bit of planning due to water/heat constraints. We were lucky that it rained the week before and there were plenty of potholes to filter water from. If you decide to go, do so with the plan of carrying enough water for the entire trip. I had enough, but one in our group had underestimated and not rationed well.
Photo taken at: Reflection Canyon
This was from a few…
Photo Caption: This was from a few weeks ago on our Limo trip to Death Valley. I was a few people deep w/ my crew @kittenbear @gluwater & @baybeepanda123. I wanted to try multiple exposures on the foreground and Milky Way over the salt flats. I used a Fisheye to get most of the Milky Way in frame. .
30 seconds for the Milky Way
180 seconds for the foreground
Processed in Lightroom & photoshop
#FYPyes #wonderful_places #natgeo #usinterior #findyourpark #deathvalley #deathvalleynps #deathvalleynationalpark #ilovephoto #Ilovephotography #ilovephotographyofficial #californiadreamin #californialovin #badwaterbasin #saltflats #earthpics #earthfocus #earthporn #tracylee #tracyleephotos #photojourney #photopills #photographytrip #photographerslife #milkyway #milkywaypics #milkywaygalaxy #astrophoto #astrophotography #canon_photos
Photo taken at: Death Valley National Park
My site is redesigned and…
Photo Caption: My site is redesigned and you can now purchase my images! Check out TracyLee.org/store to see my portfolio and buy an image or two if you want!! Thank you everyone for your support!!
An icon to Vegas, shooting the Milky Way over Elephant Rock was a must. Yes Vegas is close but the Milky Way still shines through brightly in the South Eastern Skies. I warned @marklandphoto that he would get no sleep while he was out visiting me. So I picked him up from the airport and pretty much headed straight out on a mission. Not only did we see this awesome sight, we also watched a sliver of the moon rise in the morning in the colorful skies as the sun was waking up. It was a rare sight to see and I'm so happy I was there to witness it. thanks for being my adventure buddy for a week, Kevin!
#vegaslocal #vegaslocals #lasvegas #photographytrip #photojourney #milkyway #milkywaypics #milkywaygalaxy #milkywaychasers #nightscaper #nightphotography #nightimages #natgeospace #elephantrock #valleyoffire #vegas #valleyoffirestatepark #wonderful_places #earthfocus #earthpics #beautifuldestinations
Photo taken at: Valley of Fire State Park
How cool is it that…
Photo Caption: How cool is it that the 1st official month of Milky Way season is lasting us almost 2 weeks! Thank you to the moon for cooperating!! I have tons more images from 5 out of 6 successful milkyway sessions but I just have to get them up.
This is from last night's adventure w/ @mr_awesome717_photography @kittenbear, alex, & Ray Ward somewhere outside of Las Vegas.. I had been wanting to find this arch, so to do so we got the GPS coordinates and went on a mission that included leaving without even checking to see how the clouds were, a late night hike, making friends with a couple baby rattlesnakes, waiting waiting waiting hoping the clouds would break, and having a damn good time with friends. Thank you to Daniel for bringing his @lux_pro_flashlights and almost killing himself to light this scene.. .
Having a milky way team means everyone gets similar shots, but it also means there are good stories to tell and the creative & learning process is heightened with input from multiple people. I learn so much every time I go out; whether I lead the group or I follow!
#milkyway #milkywayteam #milkywaychasers #milkywaygalaxy #milkywaypics #nightscaper #tracylee #nightphotography #astrophotography #lasvegas #vegas #secretspot #dontaskdonttell #nightimages #nightimagez #amazing_longexpo #wonderful_places #universetoday #natgeospace #vegaslocals #thingstodoinvegas #luxproflashlights #tracyleephotos #mstracylee #arch #arches #photopills @canon_photos #canon_photos #canon #feedbacknation
Still playing catch up on…
Photo Caption: Still playing catch up on photos from last month as well as not finished with my Moab blog. Damn I got some great pics out there and had some awesome adventures!
I shot the tails of the Milky Way here at Corona arch just after sunset.. This is the famous arch everyone used to rope swing off of.. .
Processed in Lightroom
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Photo taken at: Corona Arch
Shooting the Milky Way with…
Photo Caption: Shooting the Milky Way with friends is an incredible and creative bonding experience. When we did it this past week at Havasu Falls, 5 photographers, 3 non photographers and a dog all came to enjoy the beautiful skies. It was the biggest group I had ever shot the MW with but it was a most memorable time. Thank you @kittenbear @gluwater @marklandphoto @thedesertpanda Marcus, @bikiniclacar @mr_awesome717_photography & Ray for joining on this adventure with me; I love this group shot! Thank you Dan for bringing your @lux_pro_flashlights that lit up the entire falls for us Wednesday evening.. Can’t wait to go back for Full moon in a week!
Photo taken at: Havasu Falls, Supai, AZ – Grand Canyon
Chasing the Milky Way around…
Photo Caption: Chasing the Milky Way around the skies has become a favorite pastime of mine. Havasupai Falls was my destination of choice this month both for its beauty as well as the lack of Milky Way photos in this location (I’ve only seen a few!)
My journey began with 15 friends and an 11 mile backpack into the Grand Canyon. I definitely overpacked and have blisters as a result of this effort. Weather forecast reported cloudy skies while we were there 2 nights but I kept optimistic and when our crew woke up at 2am, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. 8 of us and a dog headed down to the most famous of the four sets of falls, Havasu to photograph the celestial being rising above. We each went a different direction with a different composition in mind and for me, I balanced on a free hanging log (about 5ft high) to set up my tripod for this shot. Thank you to @mr_awesome717_photography for bringing his @lux_pro_flashlights because they lit up an otherwise very dark scene! Planned using the #PhotoPills app!
Photo taken at: Havasupai Falls in Supai, Arizona (Supai Indian Reservation)
This photo is making me…
Photo Caption: #FBF
This photo is making me crave to head to Borrego Springs again VERY soon… _______
Processed in Lightroom
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Photo taken at: Borrego Springs, California
I’m still posting images from…
Photo Caption: I’m still posting images from my 2 trips to Moab last week and now I have a ton to go through from DV yesterday lol.. _______
This is Landscape Arch from Arches National Park.. We stayed up all night shooting so we could come here around 3am to catch the Galactic Center of the Milky Way near the arch. We chose to hike in here instead of Delicate Arch although the hike is almost the same length (I think) lol, I already had so many DA images that I wanted something different.
The story I heard is that the names of the two arches got switched somehow and this was supposed to be called Delicate and the other called Landscape.
Processed in Photoshop
#milkyway #canon_photos #milkywaygalaxy #archesnps #landscapearch #arches #archesnationalpark #moab #tracylee #tracyleephotos #rei1440project #grammasters3 #photographer #delicatearch #ilovephoto #ilovephotography #nightphotography #np_astro1 #nightphotography_exclusive #milkywaypics #nightimages #amazing_longexpo
I know you’re tired of…
Photo Caption: I know you’re tired of Delicate Arch by now! Here’s my last photo of it from last week’s trip. We stayed after sunset till about 8 pm or so to catch the early evening tails of the Milky Way. I lucked out in having that shooting star make an appearance in my long exposure that night! The light pollution you see is from the town of Moab that lies directly South of @archesnps.. #
#findyourpark #arches #archesnationalpark #archesnps #grammasters3 #rei1440project #tracylee #mstracylee #milkyway #milkywaygalaxy #nightphotography #longexposure #delicatearch #shootingstar #ilovephotography #ilovephoto #moab #livealifeworthliving #adventureismydrug
As I make the journey…
Photo Caption: As I make the journey back to Moab (I know, crazy, right?) I sit here hoping for clear skies tonight and tomorrow night so that I can get some more insane Milky Way pics! Chasing this celestial body has become a monthly favorite pastime of mine; hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoy taking them!
Processed in Photoshop
#grammasters3 #photographer #milkyway #femalephotographer #ilovephoto #ilovephotography #canonphotography #moab #canon_photos #archesnps #milkywaygalaxy #mstracylee #archesnationalpark #TracyLee #nightphoto #nightphotography #wonderfulplaces #nightimages #amazing_longexpo
Photo taken at: Arches National Park
When shooting the Milky way,…
Photo Caption: When shooting the Milky way, there are so many things you have to take into consideration. Light pollution, time of year, weather, composition, your equipment, lighting… A lot of people said “it’s not Milky Way season” as I headed out to @archesnps this week. I will agree with people to an extent. March is just a lot harder and takes more effort but doesn’t mean you can’t do it!
I shot this from #northwindow on Wed night (Thursday morn) at 3am, the 2nd night I was there. I was already discouraged from the 7 hrs I spent in the cold the night before to only be frustrated by the clouds and the diffused light from Moab as a result of them. Not giving up, I went to check it out anyways knowing that the Galactic center would be low in the sky. I didn’t get the center but I’m not sad about the images I shot!
Processed in Photoshop
#grammasters3 #photographer #milkyway #femalephotographer #ilovephoto #ilovephotography #canonphotography #moab #canon_photos #archesnps #milkywaygalaxy #mstracylee #archesnationalpark #TracyLee #nightphoto #nightphotography #wonderfulplaces #nightimages #amazing_longexpo #utah #utahisrad #utahrocks
Photo taken at: Arches National Park
Last summer I started shooting…
Photo Caption: Last summer I started shooting the milky way for the 1st time. I did a half assed attempt in May, but made this special trip to Borrego springs in June w/buddy @cubswanson. Have to admit I love how it turned out!
Processed in Lightroom
#grammasters3 #photographer #photographersofinstagram #nightphoto #nightphotography #milkyway #femalephotographer #livealifeworthliving #lookup #ilovephotography #ilovephotographyofficial #ilovephoto #anzaborrego #borregosprings #scorpion
A unique gateway to the…
Photo Caption: A unique gateway to the milky way! Wish the entire image would fit here on IG. Check Facebook.com/tracyleephotos to see the full image!
Processed in Lightroom
#slotcanyon #canyon #canyoneering #photographer #photographersofinstagram #nightphoto #nightphotography #milkyway #femalephotographer #livealifeworthliving #lookup #ilovephotography #ilovephotographyofficial #ilovephoto