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Backpacking the Grand Canyon and Waterfalls of Havasupai

Program Number: 21244RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/12/2013 - 5/18/2013; 10/2/2016 - 10/8/2016;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
Price starting at: $999.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; National Parks; Native American Studies Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 17; 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

The turquoise waterfalls of Havasupai are a world-renowned natural attraction. Adding to their mystique is the fact they reside in the heart of the Grand Canyon on the reservation lands of the Havasupai, who have lived in the Grand Canyon for over 800 years. And with the nearest road 10 miles away, it requires a hike through world-class scenery to get there. Come join us on this backpack trip of a lifetime!


Camp for three nights in the Havasupai Campground, where Havasu Creek and its waterfalls serenade you.
Experienced naturalists interpret the geological, natural and cultural landscapes that you encounter.
Travel to Grand Canyon’s South Rim for a day hike down the scenic South Kaibab Trail.

Activity Particulars

Strenuous hiking 4-10 miles a day with packs weighing 30-35 pounds at elevations of 2,400-7,000 feet; elevation change of 3,000 feet on two days; uneven, rocky terrain.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Flagstaff, 2 nights; van/trek to Havasupai, 3 nights; trek/van to Flagstaff, 1 night; departure.

Coordinated by Northern Arizona University.


Nestled at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks in northern Arizona, Flagstaff is a perfect departure point for trips to the Glen and Grand canyons or Sunset Crater National Monument. At 7,000 feet in elevation, this cool mountain city is one of the highest in the nation.

Modern hotel with outdoor pool/spa in Flagstaff. Campground in Havasu Canyon.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Mike Young

Mike Young has lived in Arizona for 40 years, and taught math and geology at Yavapai College prior to his work with Road Scholar. To convey the Arizona landscape, Mike uses a broad range of topics including botany, natural history and geomorphology. He has worked as a commercial boatman, designed and constructed his own home, and conducted field exercises throughout the intermountain west. He is an accomplished hike leader who challenges hikers of all skill levels.
Mike Masek

Mike Masek is a wilderness skills instructor, herbalist and ethnobotanist living in Flagstaff, Ariz. In addition to his current work with Road Scholar, he is adjunct faculty at Northern Arizona University where he teaches traditional uses of native plants and outdoor survival skills. He also teaches programs at the National Parks and Coconino Community College. He has spent a lifetime exploring the canyons and deserts of the American Southwest and loves to share these treasures with others.
Meals and Lodgings
   La Qunita Inn & Suites
  Flagstaff, AZ 2 nights
   Havasupai Campground
  Supai (Havasupai Indian Reservation) 3 nights
   La Qunita Inn & Suites
  Flagstaff, AZ 1 night
 La Qunita Inn & Suites
Type: Motel
  Contact info: 2015 S Beulah Blvd
Flagstaff, AZ 86001 USA
phone: 928-556-8666
  Room amenities: 25" satellite TV, AM FM clock radio, electronic locks, telephone with voice mail and data port, free local telephone calls, iron and board, coffee maker, internet.
  Facility amenities: Outdoor pool, Jacuzzi; exercise room, guest laundry, wi-fi available in lobby.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

 Havasupai Campground
Type: Tents
  Description: The Havasupai campground has capacity for 150 people. It is located 10 miles from the nearest road and resides in the Grand Canyon on the soverign lands of the Havasupai Indian Reservation. The Havasupai have resided in the Grand Canyon for the last 800 years and are referred to as the "People Of The Blue Green Water" due to the travertine laden waters of the area and the famed waterfalls.
  Contact info: 1
Supai, AZ 86435 USA
phone: non-e-
  Facility amenities: Campsite has picnic tables and nearby are very nice portable toilets.
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check into hotel after 3:00 PM. Register for program between 4:00-4:15 PM. Orientation begins at 4:15 PM. You will be staying at La Qunita Inn & Suites that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast, 8:00 AM You will be staying at La Qunita Inn & Suites the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free at hotel - for entire program.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Flagstaff, AZ
  Nearest city or town:  Flagstaff
  Nearest highway: East - West: I-40, North South, I-17 & US 89
  Nearest airport:  Flagstaff
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departures
Travel Details

From Phoenix Airport - To Flagstaff AZ Airport & Return


To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
US Air
phone: 800-428-4322
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$140.00 - or less, see comments below.
Prices are subject to change.


USAirways Commuter Air From Phoenix Airport to Flagstaff Airport, taxi to hotel or train station (appx. $12.00). Air fare to Flagstaff much cheaper (exact cost varies) if flight to Phoenix is also on US Air. Phoenix to Flagstaff distance 150 miles; 45 min flight time. Five flights daily.


Flagstaff, AZ to/from Starting Destination


To Train Station




Public Transportation
phone: 800-872-7245
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Varies with starting / return destination
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


From Flagstaff train station to hotel: 5 minutes taxi ride. 




From Flagstaff train station to hotel 2 miles.


Westbound train arrives 8:51 PM and departs at 8:57 PM Eastbound train arrives at 4:36 AM and departs at 4:41 AM.


Flagstaff, AZ to/from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Arizona Shuttle
phone: 877-226-8060
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Approx. $45.00 one way ($41.00 Internet Reservation); $5.00 each way drop off/pickup at La Quinta
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Approx 3 hours 




150 Miles


Call Arizona Shuttle for departure times PRIOR to booking flights. 9 shuttles daily from/to the Phoenix airport. Upon arrival into Phoenix airport, check in required at shuttle desk in baggage claim area of airport,15 minutes before shuttle departure. Flagstaff La Quinta Hotel drop off/pick up by advanced reservation ($5.00 extra charge per reservation BY MENTIONING ROAD SCHOLAR); otherwise the drop off/pick up is at Flagstaff Amtrak (Visitor Center). Advanced reservations required.

Driving Directions
  Flagstaff La Quinta From I-40 Take I-40 to Flagstaff, exit 195 north for Flagstaff and Grand Canyon. This puts you northbound on Milton Road. At the first stoplight, Forest Meadows, turn left. Left (west) on Forest Meadows for quarter block to next light, Beulah Blvd. Right (north) on Beulah for quarter block to La Quinta on left, 2015 S. Beulah.
  Flagstaff La Quinta from I-17 N on 1-17 until it ends, becoming Milton Rd in Flagstaff. At lst stop light, Forest Meadows, turn left for quarter block to next light, Beulah Blvd. R on Beulah for quarter block to La Quinta on left, 2015 S. Beulah.
Elevation Note: 7,000 ft -those with heart or lung conditions need OK from physician before attending.

Equipment Requirements: Framed(external or internal), fitted backpack; ultralight (UL) sleeping bag, closed cell or self-inflating foam pad, UL tent, ground cloth; sturdy hiking boots with ankle support and good tread; water bottles or hydration bladders min of 3L; 2 collapsible hiking sticks; more under packing list below.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration/Introductions/Program Orientation
(Sunday, May 12)
 Afternoon: Check into hotel after 3:00 PM, register for program between 4:30-5:00 PM in hotel meeting room or lobby. Don't buy airline tickets or commit to other travel arrangements before February 5th as program dates may shift a day or two based on group campsite availability at Havasupai. The Provider(Northern Arizona University) can be contacted at (928)523-2359;; and
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant.
 Evening: After dinner Program Orientation and introductions.
Accommodations: La Qunita Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Full day hike into the South Rim of the Grand Canyon along the South Kaibab Trail.
(Monday, May 13)

Note: The Kaibab Trail is a well maintained trail. It averages about 4 - 5 feet in width and has numerous water bars and step pads. The first 1/4 mile will be switchbacks then continues at a gentle incline to Ooh-Aah Pt. before descending a series of switch backs to Cedar Ridge. The trail is generally dry and clear. Trekking poles are recommended.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Travel by van to the canyon rim. Our hike today is to Cedar Ridge (1.5 miles and 1140 feet elevation loss - one way) via Ooh-Aah Point on the the Kaibab Trail. Switchbacks and amazing canyon views at each corner will be the order of the day. This hike is a Grand canyon classic! You will traverse several of the geologic layers of the Canyon including the Coconino Sandstone which contains fossilized reptile tracks. Time to enjoy "inner" canyon views, looking out for California Condor soaring overhead and trail side talks by your guides will be enjoyed at Cedar Ridge.
 Lunch: Sack lunch along the trail.
 Afternoon: The Cedar Ridge hike continues. Return to Flagstaff in late afternoon.
 Dinner: At a local Flagstaff restaurant.
 Evening: Tonight we have a meeting to discuss the next days backpack and discuss packing considerations.
Accommodations: La Qunita Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Backpack into Havasupai Campground
(Tuesday, May 14)

Note: 10 miles descent with 2,500 elevation loss. Trail is well maintained with the majority of the elevation loss in the first two miles.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at Hotel.
 Morning: Check out of the hotel after breakfast and depart for Hualapai Hilltop (75 mile drive). Our food and "kitchen" will be carried to the Havasupai Lodge by pack horse so you will be carrying primarily your backpack, tent, sleeping bag and personal gear and the days lunch. The hike, starting at Hualapai Hilltop Trailhead, is appoximately 10 miles to the Havasupai campground. The first two miles consists of a switch back trail and the greatest loss of elevation (1,200 feet). The trail continues and follows a normally dry wash for 4 miles at stream gradient. For the last 4 miles into the campsite the trail is on a relatively level dirt path. The entire hike offers world class scenery and allows you to experience the Grand Canyon without the masses of people you might find in the National Park.
 Lunch: Sack lunch along the way.
 Afternoon: Arrive in campground, set up camp. Rest those weary feet from a challenging day in the cool waters of the creek or in one of the pools that reside at the base of the waterfalls.
 Dinner: In-field meal prepared by staff and participants.
 Evening: After dinner, your trip leaders will review the day and introduce you to the next days options.
Accommodations: Havasupai Campground
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Explore the waterfalls of Havasupai - go swimming!
(Wednesday, May 15)
 Breakfast: In-field meal prepared by staff and participants.
 Morning: Depart after breakfast for an all-day hiking trip along Havasu Creek to the world famous, photogenic Havasupai waterfalls. This is the reward for all our effort! Revel in the deep blue green water of Havasu Falls as it drops 100 feet to sculpted travertine pools below. Mooney Falls, the highest at nearly 200 feet is equally stunning and dramatic. Your coordinator, well versed in the local flora and fauna and natural history of the area will share valuable information with the group.
 Lunch: In-field meal prepared by staff and participants.
 Afternoon: Continue our exlorations of the waterfalls with some free time to relax. In the late afternoon we will walk the two miles back to the village of Supai to enjoy dinner in their local eatery.
 Dinner: Dinner at Havasupai Cafe. The cafe will offer up and introduce you to the famous "Indian Taco" - a light, crispy fry bread loaded with traditional taco toppings. It's a memorable experience! A vegetarian version of this dish will also be available.
 Evening: Free time to hang out in camp, review the day and get ready for the next days adventure.
Accommodations: Havasupai Campground
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Follow Havasu Creek toward the Colorado River until you reach "Beaver Falls"
(Thursday, May 16)

Note: 7 miles total with trail crossing creek many times. This is our most "off the beaten path" hike with trail at times including rock hoping and uneven footing.

 Breakfast: In-field meal prepared by staff and participants.
 Morning: Today we hike to Beaver Falls. Beaver Falls is the furthest waterfall geographically from the campground. However, the amazing hike along the way is worth the trip. Beaver Falls is a series of cascades at the conflux of Beaver and Havasu Canyons. Beaver Fall's cascading falls making for a fun place to play and go swimming. Approximate waterfall height at Beaver Falls itself is around 60 feet.
 Lunch: Lunch at Beaver Falls.
 Afternoon: Continue hiking, with return to camp in the afternoon to rest and relax for the next days big hike out of the canyon.
 Dinner: In-field meal prepared by staff and participants.
Accommodations: Havasupai Campground
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Hike out of the Canyon/Celebratory dinner
(Friday, May 17)

Note: 10 mile of hiking with 2,500 of elevation gain.

 Breakfast: In-field meal prepared by staff and participants.
 Morning: After breakfast and early camp break, begin the hike for Hualapai Hilltop. We will retrace our steps and hike 10 miles (with a cumulative elevation gain of 2500 feet) to the trailhead. Hiking out of the canyon is very rewarding with the first 8 miles having a gentle elevation gain.
 Lunch: Lunch on the trail.
 Afternoon: After finishing the hike we head back to Flagstaff for afternoon check-in into our hotel and a very rewarding shower!
 Dinner: Celebratory dinner at local restaurant.
 Evening: Program wrap-up, laughs, and farewells following dinner.
Accommodations: La Qunita Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Departures
(Saturday, May 18)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Program concludes after breakfast, hotel check out by 11:00 AM.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Flagstaff, AZ Flagstaff Area
Points of Interest w/in 2 hours of Flagstaff: Walnut Canyon NM, Wupatki NM, Sunset Crater NM, Museum of Northern Arizona, Downtown Flagstaff & old Route 66, Lowell Observatory, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona Red Rocks and the Secret Mountain Wilderness, Montezuma’s Castle NM, Tuzigoot NM, Jerome, AZ Ghost Town, San Francisco Peaks and the Kachina Wilderness, Hopi & Navajo Reservations, La Posada Hotel / Restaurant at Winslow, AZ, Grand Canyon Railroad @ Williams, AZ and the Grand Canyon National Park. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

An Introduction to Grand Canyon Ecology

Author: Houk, Rose

Description: 56pp

Ancient Peoples of the American Southwest

Author: Steve Plog

Description: The American Southwest is home to some of the most remarkable monuments of America's prehistoric past, such as Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde. Stephen Plog, who has spent decades working in the region, provides the most readable and up-to-date account of the predecessors of the modern Hopi and Pueblo Indian cultures in this well-received account. Chaco Canyon became the center of a thriving Anasazi cultural tradition. It was the hub of a trading network extending over hundreds of miles, whose arteries were a series of extraordinary roads that are still being discovered and mapped. Interweaving the latest archaeological evidence with early first-person accounts, Professor Plog explains the rise and mysterious fall of Southwestern cultures. 224pp.

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West

Author: Stegner, Wallace

Description: Here Wallace Stegner, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, gives us a thrilling account of Powell's struggle against western geography and Washington politics. We witness the successes and frustrations of Powell's distinguished career, and appreciate his unparalleled understanding of the West. "Stegner's most exciting work." (San Francisco Chronicle) 496pp

Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water

Author: Reisner, Marc

Description: The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecologic and economic disaster. In Cadillac Desert Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West. Based on more than a decade of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden--and Eden that may be only a mirage. 608pp

Half Broke Horses

Author: Walls, Jeannette

Description: Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, wrote this true life novel which unfolds across Northern Arizona from the 1920s to the 1960s. Its heroine, Lily Casey Smith, (Ms. Wall's grandmother) battled the elements, prejudices, economic conditions and politics of remote frontier Arizona. Many of the locations described - Peach Springs, Seligman, Flagstaff, the Navajo Reservation, the Arizona Strip - are sites visited by NAU Road Scholar programs. Readers of this selection will feel the sense of heritage from this tale of life in our distant corner of America.

I Am the Grand Canyon: The Story of the Havasupai People

Author: Hirst, Stephen

Description: I Am the Grand Canyon is the story of the Havasupai people. From their origins among the first group of Indians to arrive in North America some 20,000 years ago to their epic struggle to regain traditional lands taken from them in the nineteenth century, the Havasupai have a long and colorful history. The story of this tiny tribe once confined to a too small reservation depicts a people with deep cultural ties to the land, both on their former reservation below the rim of the Grand Canyon and on the surrounding plateaus. 276pp

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons

Author: Powell, John Wesley

Description: Full text of Powell's 1,000-mile expedition down the fabled Colorado in 1869. Superb account of terrain, geology, vegetation, Indians, famine, mutiny, treacherous rapids, mighty canyons. 240 illustrations. 432pp

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