I write this Havasu Falls reservation review moments after finally acquiring our permits for the Havasupai Campground. I do this because I don’t want the grandeur of hiking to Havasu Falls to cloud my vision on the amount of frustration that is created by the Havasu Falls reservation system. All dates for an entire year go up for grabs at the exact same moment and the only way to reserve dates is online. That is an estimated 40,000 successful campers all logging on at the same time to get a spot. Of course, there are countless others who attempt to get a spot with no luck. It is insane how difficult it is to get permits for this journey into the Grand Canyon.
Havasu Falls Reservation Review
Tips for Success!
- Reservation Date: February 1st, 2020. 8:00 AM Arizona Time (which corresponds to MST in February).
- Create a login (or two) for the website weeks ahead of time.
- Log on to the site a few minutes before the countdown hits zero.
- Know the dates for when you want to travel and have several backups available. (4-days, 3-nights)
- We recommend late-March to mid-May or early-October to early-November.
- June through September is hot, crowded and monsoon season so we don’t recommend the summer months.
- If you intend to take a helicopter flight in or out keep in mind they only fly on certain days of the week.
- Know if you intend to utilize a pack horse for your bags.
- There have been reports of animal abuse so this isn’t something we recommend. You packed it you carry it.
- If you intend to take the Helicopter in or out those are first-come, first-served at $85/person. Waits can be many hours long.
- Be patient (It will most likely take several hours to be successful)
- Be persistent (Read On)
- The person whose name the Havasu Falls reservation is under must be present at check-in in Supai.
- All fees are due at the time of the reservation.
- A single credit card is used for each Havasu Falls reservation.
- You are not allowed to sell your reservation but as of 2019, you can now transfer a reservation.
- Know if you want travel insurance for your trip.
Our Strategy for Grabbing a Reservation
Jennifer and I both created logins to double our odds. We set up our nomadic home in a campground in Florida with screaming fast internet… for a cell phone connection anyways. We were getting over 30mbps down and 10 up. Our window of flexible dates was spread across an entire month. We both logged in to the system well in advance and watched the countdown arrive at 0:00.
Our Experience – Two Frustrating Hours
Then we waited for the “make a reservation” button to go live. For over two hours we fought the inefficient online system. Constantly waiting for pages to load or for the warnings about the system experiencing high traffic to dissipate and let us through. Over the course of the frustrating fight, both Jennifer and I got logged out which took over 30 minutes each just to get logged back in. Once logged back in the waiting and the refreshing game resumed.
The Calendar Reservation
We made it to the calendar feature, where users attempt to select the dates, over a dozen times. Each time arriving to either a broken calendar that would not proceed to the following month or making our selections only for the system to be overloaded and return us to the home page after a long agonizing wait. Each time we made it to the calendar system the dates available were always different. One time we arrived after an hour and a half to our month-long window only to find three dates remaining available. We were nearly crushed when after choosing one of the three dates we were once again sent back to the home screen.
This is, however, a story of perseverance. After two hours of attempts, we made it to the selection window one final time and were surprised to see that almost all the dates were once again available within our window. We selected our ideal dates and were put through to the payment process. The reward for our two hours of effort was a $750 bill. Time will tell if it was worth the effort.
What We Learned
So what is the moral of this Havasu Falls Reservation story? If you want to visit one of the most beautiful and remote locations on the planet be prepared for the registration process which is going to be a frustrating nightmare. The other takeaway is to not give up. I thought after the first 30 minutes of attempts when we had only made it to the calendar step once that we had surely missed our chance. When at an hour and a half all the slots looked like they were taken I was sure that it would be another year of waiting for this singular date to once again be frustrated by the inefficient Havasupai registration system. We ultimately persevered because we kept trying.
Good Luck in 2020!
Maybe this year the Havasu Falls reservation system will be better equipped to handle the massive amount of people seeking this unique natural landscape but I wouldn’t bet on it. Come prepared.