Handled by the amazing Angela Yang, so I have no opinions or advice on this. We got our permits for September.
Lodging and pre trip
Part of our group flew in two days before, and the rest one day before. We all flew into vegas.
We rented cars at Mccarran and then drove two hours to Kingman, Arizona. Stayed one night at the Marriot suites there. There is a lodge that you can stay at that's about an hour or so away, but we chose not to do that.
- Trekking poles
- Sleeping pad + sleeping bag (it was pretty hot though)
- Camera w/ camera case
- Bugspray (sooo many mosquito bites)
- Leggings (I didn't put these on once)
- 2p Tent (split between 2 people, left the rainfly behind)
- Rodentproof bag
- Food (jerky, bars, dried fruit, fresh fruit, peanut butter filled pretzels, crackers+tuna, mountain house meals)
- Jetboil + fuel
- Hammocks (others in our group brought these and they were awesome)
Hike in to Supai village (8mi)
Because we were worried about heat, we wanted to be on the trailhead by 5am latest (peak temps for upai village were high 90s around 10am). We woke up at 2:30am, left Kingman, and drove to Hualapai hilltop. It was about 5:30 or 6am when we started our hike. There were bathrooms and spots available for us to park, but no other services. There was some dim light when we started, so we didn't need our headlamps.
The hike itself was fairly easy, with an initial 1mi descent of switchbacks into the canyon, and then it levels out. There's little signage but because there's so many people who have been on it, the way forward is pretty clear. You're essentially hiking in a wash (lots of gravel with some packed sand) with the canyon walls around you. So it wasn't as hot as we were worried it might be, even when the sun was up.
We saw a fair number of people going in and coming back out, meeting some groups who said they hiked out of the campgrounds as early as 1am.
Our group made good time. The gravel and trail transition into an area with a stream and trees, and the earth is packed sand.
Checking in at Supai village
And we eventually reached a snack bar with a lawn area and store that's part of the supai village. If you push past this, you will reach the main village where you can go get permits and register for mules if you wish to do so.
The office itself looked pretty busy, staffed by 2 people to check and give permits, as well as answer phones. I saw the blinking light of the answering machine, so I can imagine a lot of people aren't getting their phone calls answered. From this point on you have to wear your wristband and your campsite needs a tag. We did see rangers checking (at the campground + the falls). Plus, this is a reservation, so be respectful and don't sneak in for a day hike or to save on the registration fee.
If you do get a mule, packs need to be in front of the rangers station no later than 7:30am with the tags on. We think the mules take about 3 hours or less to get to the hilltop parking lot. Most of the mules we saw were in good condition, healthy and with no sores. There was water for them to drink at the hilltop as well. We did see a really skinny looking mule across from the snack bar, but he might have been sick and was definitely not working.
Hike from Supai village to campground (2mi)
Once you register, you'll walk thru the village (passing the lawn where helicopters land) and left past a church. From here to the rangers station and campground it's 2 more miles. The last two miles are flat and sandy, walking along an irrigation stream and people's houses, but it felt really long since our group was tired and hungry. Along the way you pass two waterfalls, including havasu.
After two miles, you reach the ranger station. The campgrounds start here, and are pretty well maintained with compostable toilets everywhere (they smelled not bad!). Each campsite has an obvious dirt clearing and a picnic table. There's also a lot of stuff left over from previous campers (strings/cords/clips) even though it's clearly pack in pack out.
There is also a spring here to fill water from, so no water filters needed (though we brought some just in case). We crossed some streams and went to the end of the campground to set up in a more secluded area with trees for our hammocks. We also set up a string for our food.
Tons of squirrels around here creep in on food. They know where it is and are not afraid, so don't leave it unattended for even a minute. We strung up a cord across two trees and hung bags (plastic trash bag, baggu, chain mail rodent bags, and sleeping stuff sacks). Be sure to space it out enough and go high enough off the ground, since I suspect the one that didn't allowed the rodents to jump up and claw around. Trash is pack in and pack out. We ended up packing it out inside of plastic garbage bags and rodent bags around that.
Hike to Mooney Falls (0.5) and Beaver Falls (2mi)
Starts soon after end of campground, descends down the canyon wall with chains and rock handholds. Not too bad though some ladders were a little loose and the chain and rocks get wet closer to the falls. Descend slowly and you should be fine! Not much swimming around mooney falls since it's still pretty cold. We pushed ahead to try to get to beaver falls. You continue along an obvious trail on the side you descended on, but eventually cross back and forth the river a couple times (three major crossings I believe). The deepest was maybe thigh high. Then the trail goes through a grape leaf valley, with occasional glimpses of water and swimming spots). Once you start the final ascent, you'll see a sign that says beaver falls and a view of it. We made it at around 10am for about 30min of sunlight. Also be watchful on the trail as we saw a rattlesnake ahead of us.