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We spent over $900 to go on a bucket-list hike hidden in the Grand Canyon region. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced.

Bernadette Rankin   

We spent over $900 to go on a bucket-list hike hidden in the Grand Canyon region. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced.
  • I spent over $900 to visit a gorgeous remote corner of the Grand Canyon region.
  • Havasupai Falls is a series of stunning turquoise waterfalls located on the Havasupai Reservation.

When I came across an Instagram photo of waterfalls cascading over rocky red cliffs into turquoise pools, I knew I needed to learn more about this magical place and how I could get there.

A quick internet search led me to pursue my dream bucket-list trip at Havasupai Falls.

Havasupai Falls, which refers to a series of stunning waterfalls, is named for the First Nation tribe reservation where they're located — in a remote corner of the Grand Canyon ecosystem, outside the jurisdiction of the national park.

The first step in the journey was securing reservations

The first part of planning my trip was securing permits to visit Havasupai Falls.

Unlike other popular hikes like The Wave and Half Dome, which use to issue permits, the Havasupai people manage their own permit process through their official website.

Havasupai management uses the term "reservation" instead of "permit" since the process involves reserving a physical space at the campgrounds. Reservations cost $455 per person for the minimum three-night, four-day reservation.

Through the Havasupai website, I created an account and accessed the cancellation and transfer list, which allows visitors to take over reservations made and forfeited by other travelers.

To my surprise, I was able to snag a reservation just 17 days in advance.

We packed up our car and headed out for our trip

My husband and I loaded our backpacks into our camper van in early February with everything we would need for the strenuous hike.

We waved goodbye to the comforts of our Las Vegas home and drove 2 ½ hours to our first stop: a required check-in at the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn in Peach Springs, Arizona.

We met with a Havasupai representative who issued all the necessary paperwork after providing our proof of ID and printed reservation documents.

We were given trail maps and directions for the 60-mile drive through the Havasupai reservation to arrive at our starting point, Hualapai Hilltop.

Once there, we hoisted our 35-pound packs onto our backs and took the first nervous step to begin our adventure.

We began the 10-mile hike to our Havasupai campsite

We started the 10-mile hike to the campground at noon. The sharply descending trail dropped us through layer upon layer of colorful rocks, and had my legs shaking from effort even though I'm an experienced backpacker.

Admittedly, I was anxious about what was to come for the rest of the hike if this was just the intro.

My nerves gave way to excitement when the trail led us gently downhill through gorgeous, picture-worthy canyons before arriving in Supai Village.

As we walked into Supai Village, we saw signs stating that photography is strictly prohibited. The tiny village is an active community and a home-base hub for the Havasupai people, who cherish their privacy.

We hiked past wooden houses with grazing horses and burros lingering in side yards, nodding to the few hikers who had opted to stop to rest their legs.

The well-marked route led us out of Supai Village, with a bend in the dirt road quickly obscuring any sign of the community we left behind.

Our feet were officially tired by this time, but the remaining 1.5-mile hike to the campground gave us a glimpse of Havasu Creek, the legendary source of the blue-green waters.

After 9 miles of hiking, we encountered our first waterfalls

At around 9 miles into our hike, we encountered our first three Havasupai waterfalls — Fifty Foot Falls, Little Navajo Falls, and Old Navajo Falls — before arriving at a makeshift plywood bridge.

We crossed the bridge one by one and ventured on until we got our first jaw-dropping look at the cascading Havasu Falls.

Suddenly, we understood why Beyoncé filmed her "Spirit" music video at this unique natural wonder.

We grabbed a spot at the Havasupai Campground

After taking pictures of Havasu Falls, we headed down the steep path to the official entrance to the campground.

We slowly hiked through the long stretch of first-come, first-served campsites, designated solely by a picnic table nestled within the narrow confines of soaring canyon walls.

My insistence on finding the perfect place to pitch our tent paid off when we came upon the most beautiful campsite in Havasupai.

We inched toward the drop-off into the canyon 100 feet below and realized we were looking over the edge of one of the most famous Havasupai waterfalls: Mooney Falls.

The highlight of our trip was hiking the Havasu Creek Trail

Time went fast during our four days in Havasupai.

Our favorite hike of the trip was on the Havasu Falls Trail, which stretches from Mooney Falls to Beaver Falls.

This "Goonies"-style hike was described by the Havasupai people (and the ominous waiver we signed) as being "extremely treacherous."

We descended stone tunnels and moss-covered wooden ladders to get to the bottom of Mooney Falls. But in the end, we saw a view worthy of all the pictures we could take, frame, and hang in our home.

The 2.5-mile trail led us past grazing bighorn sheep, through multiple river crossings and countless unnamed waterfalls.

Soon, we arrived at our turnaround point and Beaver Falls, a terraced work of art created by minerals deposited by Havasu Creek.

Before leaving, my husband and I vowed to return to Havasupai Falls

When our time at Havasupai Falls came to an end, we didn't mind the long 10-mile uphill hike to get back to our car or the over $900 we spent on this utterly unique adventure.

We begrudgingly trudged along like two kids who didn't want this one-of-a-kind trip to ever end.

We consoled each other by swearing that we'd be back again to see Havasupai Falls, a place we'd fallen hopelessly and insatiably in love with.

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