On day 10 out of 13, we woke up on the beach of the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area. The weather was gorgeous as we jumped up, made some camp breakfast, tried to get the sand off of our stuff as we packed it up, and headed to our next stop: Antelope Canyon! We made a reservation well in advance for our group, as you have to pay for a guided tour from the Native American people if you want to see Antelope Canyon. When we got there, it was fairly early in the morning, probably around 8:30, and the lines for tours were already extremely long. At that point, we were very thankful for our reservation, because we were on a time crunch to get through Antelope Canyon and make the nearly 5 hour drive to the Hualapai Hilltop where we would start our hike down into Havasuapai. However, even with our reservations booked ahead of time, we ended up standing around with hoards of people like cattle waiting to get into the canyon… Since only one group can travel down at a time, it gets backed upped pretty fast, and we ended up being delayed about an hour. We went through Kens Lower Canyon tours, and on their website they even have a disclaimer saying the delays can reach up to 2 hours.
The tours are $25 per person (along with an $8 Navajo Permit fee), with a max of 15 people per group. We chose the Lower Canyon for a few reasons. It is cheaper, and even though it is crowded, it is less crowded than the Upper Canyon. They do allow pictures in the canyon, however video is not allowed. But if you're wanting a solo shot, be prepared to be strategic! The only reason we were able to grab a few shots by ourselves is because we waited for the people in front of us to move out of sight by holding up the people behind us… Now you can see why delays are so common- everyone trying to get their perfect shot! By the tail end of the canyon we decided to put the cameras down and just enjoy it.
Once we jumped out of the canyon, we all booked it to our van and put the pedal to the metal towards Havasupai! We got to the hilltop around 4:30 and began our hike around 5pm. The Havasupai woman sitting at the hilltop did not want to let us begin our hike until the NEXT DAY! She said it was too late to start….We expressed that we were well prepared and fast hikers, and if she didn't let us down our time would be cut extremely short (aka...we begged.). She asked us our reservation name and allowed us to go. Thank goodness!!! Our hike down was filled with wild horses, wild dogs, and a lot of snack stops! I would recommend bringing no less than two liters of water. I brought more than two for the hike in and out and I was happy I did. We were a little worried on the hike down since we didn't have access to our reservation #, (there was NO service for hours), but we finally got cell service when we got to the village and were able to pull up our reservation info. We were worried because we had heard plenty of stories of people being turned away and made to hike back out, so definitely be prepared with your information before you hike down.
By the time we made it to the village around 8:30, the tourism office was closed. Since this is where you check in with your reservation and get your wristband and we were unable to, we kept walking to the campground. When we finally made it, we were stopped by a ranger, who took down our names and reservation #. We were told we would have to hike an hour back to the tourism office in the morning to get our wristbands…and we decided we would, as to be respectful and follow the rules.
The campsite was completely packed, and we finally found enough space for our hammocks all the way at the end of the grounds, out by Mooney Falls. The next morning, the grounds were empty as everyone hikes out on Sundays. The following morning, we woke up to the rangers who walk through the camps in the morning to check everyones permits. We explained our situation to him, and he simply took down our name and reservation # again, and told us we were good to go. However, the entire rest of our time there, we were stopped by rangers multiple times for our lack of wristbands. Because the rangers are not overly- friendly, we almost would have preferred to make the hike back, get our wristbands, and remain unbothered. So, a big tip for your trip to Havasu falls, time it around getting properly checked in! I think we were lucky with them allowing us to remain. (Most people are told they must hike back to check in if they pass the office after hours.)
*And NO- you cannot visit Havasupai without the proper permits for your group. Please be respectful of the people who live there and allow us on their land.*
We set up camp in the dark, with the sounds of the waterfalls around us and the running river underneath us. However, nothing could prepare us for the sight we would wake up to!