Planning Your Trip

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If you plan on making the most of your trip to the Grand Canyon, you’re going to need time to think and plan. Of course, if you only plan on a “Lampoon’s Wally World” type drive-by visit, then planning isn’t needed. Honestly, how much do you need to think about if you’re only going to drive to the Rim, stand there for a few minutes and leave?

However, if you want to experience the beauty of Havasupai Falls, which is highly recommended, or any of the other falls in the Grand Canyon, you need to make a plan. These trips require permits and reservations, you’ll also need water, meals, gear, some training, and a little knowledge.

There are some things you need to consider when planning your trip to Havasupai Waterfall and the Grand Canyon. If you’d like to travel without making a plan, then er recommend joining a guided tour.

When Should You Go

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You’re probably wondering when is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon. While the area is generally open year round, there are certain times of year that are better for traveling to Havasupai Waterfalls and the Grand Canyon. The most important factor to consider is your temperature preference, whether of not you plan on swimming, the time of day you want to get started every day of your trip and whether or not you want to risk flooding.

Here are a breakdown of the conditions during the different seasons

Winter – December through February

The Havasupai Waterfalls and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, are closed during this time of year. So, you won’t be able to have a trip to Thunder River, Havasu Falls or Deer Creek Falls during the winter season.

However, you can still have a fabulous time at the Grand Canyon. You can visit Ribbon Falls, go camping at Bright Angel Campground or stay at Phantom Ranch. Because some parts of the Canyon are closed, reservations are easier to secure.

Spring – March through May

Spring is a great season for backpacking into the areas of Cheyava Falls and Clear Creek. The snowmelt will ensure both will be flowing. This is also a good time to go hiking into Ribbon Falls and backpacking at Elves Chasm.

If you plan on hiking Havasu Falls, spring is an excellent time to visit because the days are long, swimming is good and the hiking is comfortable. While the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Thunder River, and Deer Creek Falls is still closed, there are still many other places to visit. The North Rim does not open until May 15.

Summer – June through August

Summers are hot at the Grand Canyon. At the bottom of the Canyon, temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the heat, the only waterfall trip recommended during this season is Havasu Falls.

While Havasu Falls is quite nice, the hike there is going to be hot. You’ll want to start your hike early each day. When the heat reaches 100 degrees outside, the water at the falls remains at a comfortable 70 degrees.

Heat is not the only issue with the summer weather. July and August are monsoon season. Before traveling to Havasu Falls check the weather reports for “Williams, AZ” and “Supai, AZ”. If the chance of thunderstorms is 40 percent of higher, travel to the falls with extra caution.

Autumn – September through November

Autumn is one of the best times to visit all of the waterfalls. However, during the second half of November, the weather at the Canyon can get cold. And, at that time the North Rim, Thunder River and Deer Creek Falls will normally be closed.

Havasupai Waterfall Trip

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If you plan on visiting the Havasupai Waterfall, you can stay at the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn. This lodging is the closest to Hilltop, the trailhead. If you plan on leaving early in the morning, you should arrive at the Grand Canyon Caverns the evening before your hike.

Grand Canyon National Waterfall Trip

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The lodging you choose would depend on whether or not you’re starting at the North Rim or South Rim. For a North Rim trip, which would include Thunder River and Deer Creek Falls, you should stay at one of the hotels in Jacob Lake, Arizona. If you plan on a South Rim tips, which includes Cheyava Falls, Ribbon Falls, and Elves Chasm, you should choose to stay in Tusayan, Arizona which is near the trailheads, so you can get an early start.

If you want to get the best rate for lodgings in Tusayan and Jacob Lake, visit a budget travel website like priceline.com.

A Recommended Packing List

  • 1 to 2 long sleeved fleece or wool layers
  • Cotton or performance t-shirts, for hike on hot days
  • Nylon shorts and pants
    Multiple pairs of synthetic or wool hiking socks
  • Hiking boots or shoes
    Rain pants and jacket
    Swimsuit
  • Sandals or water shoes
  • Wide brimmed sun hat
  • Warm hat and long underwear, if traveling in winter, early spring or late fall

Camping Gear

  • Backpack
  • Backpacking tent
  • Lightweight sleeping bag and sleeping pad
  • Camping pillow
  • Trekking poles
    Backpacking stove with fuel
  • Stuff sack for clothing
  • Cooking pots and pans
    Water bottles
  • Plates, utensils, bowls, cups and mugs
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Bug repellant and sunscreen

Food, Drinks, and Snacks

  • Breakfast foods, such as granola, instant oatmeal, bagels, and cream cheese
  • Lunch foods, such as bread, honey, peanut butter, fruit, tuna packets, cheese, and fruit
  • Dinner foods, such as tortillas, cheese, chicken packets, and backpacking dehydrated meals.
  • Snacks, such as trail mix, nuts, and dried fruit.
    Water treatment such as a water filter, chlorine, or iodine.
  • Energy Bars
  • Electrolyte mix

Optional Gear

  • Camera and batteries
  • Hiking gaiters
  • Mosquito head net
  • A star chart
  • Hammock, for Havasu Falls only