Havasupai is certainly one of the most picturesque places I’ve backpacked, but it’s also one of the more uniquely challenging trips I’ve taken. If you haven’t heard of it, quickly do a Google image search and I’m pretty sure it’s getting added to your bucket list.

Now when I say challenging, I don’t actually mean that it’s a hard hike. It’s about 10 miles in to the falls, then 10 miles back out of the canyon a couple days later – tough in summer heat, but totally do-able. The challenging part is the logistics. Havasupai Falls has become so popular thanks to Instagram that it’s nearly impossible to snag one of the limited permits (more on that in another post). For many people who do get a permit, this is the first backpacking trip they’ve ever taken and they have no idea what to bring, how to pack or what they’ll eat while they’re down there.

If that sounds like you – and yes, we’ve all had those questions – hopefully I can share what my group did and give you some pointers to help you have an amazing experience exploring Havasupai.

I went in a group of 3 on August 26-29, 2019. We drove up from Phoenix (about 4.5 hours) the morning we hiked down into the canyon and drove back to Phoenix on Thursday evening after we hiked back out. Two of the 3 of us had been on a few backpacking trips before, but our 3rd – my boyfriend – was a newbie. He’s also a fairly particular eater so I made sure to detail exactly what the food plan was days in advance so we could make adjustments (aka – more snacks) before we packed.

Here’s what we packed and ate:

Monday Breakfast (while driving)

  • Coffee & Gatorade
  • Bagels with peanut butter & jelly
  • Cheerios (for our picky eater)
  • Sugar Free Red Bull (since we started driving at 3am)

Monday Lunch #1 (while hiking, somewhere around mile 4)

  • Summer sausage and cheddar cheese
  • Apples and peanut butter
  • Cliff bars and fruit snacks

We had planned on Monday Lunch #2 at town of Supai as we passed through or something from the fry bread stand at the campground, but the restaurant in town was closed for renovations during our trip and the fry bread stand wasn’t open when we arrived. We did buy cold Gatorade and popsicles in town to eat as we dragged ourselves the final couple miles.

Monday Dinner

  • Mountain House Lasagna with Meat Sauce (2.5 servings)
  • AlpineAire Black Bart Chili with Beef & Beans (2 servings)

Tuesday Breakfast

  • Cheerios / Oatmeal and raisins
  • Starbucks instant coffee packets

Tuesday Lunch / Snacks

  • Chicken Ramen – 2 packets split with 3 people
  • Pretzels
  • fruit snacks
  • Cliff bars
  • Jerky

Tuesday Dinner

  • Mountain House Italian Style Pepper Steak (2 servings)
  • Backpacker’s Pantry Jamaican Style Jerk Rice and Beans (2 servings)
  • Tortillas (1 per person)
  • Oreos (2 per person)

Wednesday Breakfast

  • Mountain House Biscuits & Gravy (2 servings)
  • Cliff bars
  • Starbucks instant coffee packets

Wednesday Lunch

  • Tortilla with peanut butter
  • Doritos
  • Jerky
  • Trail mix

Although the schedule is a bit hit-and-miss, there are some locals who run an Indian Fry Bread stand just outside the campground most afternoons. We were lucky enough to catch them for a taco fry bread and dessert fry bread to share on Wednesday. It was AMAZING and a much needed addition to our planned freeze-dried meal.

Wednesday Dinner

  • GOOD TO-GO Thai Curry (2-serving packet)
  • Tortillas (1 per person)
  • AlpineAire Cinnamon Apple Crisp

Thursday Breakfast (while hiking out)

  • Cliff bars, fruit snacks, trail mix

Thursday Lunch (in car at trailhead)

  • Snacks – Doritos, oranges, Twizzlers
  • We also left the Yeti cooler in the car with frozen bottles of water so we had a nice cold drink before we started driving. Keep in mind, you’re not allowed to have any alcohol on the reservation so no post-hike celebration beers until a few hours down the road.

In addition to all of the food above, we did all consume a ton of water and electrolytes – Gatorade powder, NUUN sport hydration tablets and Pedialyte Powder Packs. Depending on the heat when you go, I’d absolutely recommend taking more electrolytes than you think you’d normally need. We had a very hot hike back out of the canyon despite leaving before sunrise and needed an extra boost.

How to pack & store your food in Havasupai:

There are a ton of blogs and social posts with stories about the squirrels in Havasupai being super aggressive about stealing food. I was skeptical but determined to be prepared.

We packed all of our food & toiletries in odor-proof OPSAK bags. These are like thick zip top bags that can be reused a number of times. I’ve used them on a bunch of backpacking trips and they’re super handy to keep your food and trash from smelling inside your bag. Keep in mind, you need to pack out all of your trash when you camp at Havasupai so it’s nice to not smell it on the 10 mile hike out.

While the OPSAK bags are odor-proof, they don’t stop little rodent teeth so we also took the Outsak from Simple Outdoor Solutions. It’s basically a metal mesh bag the little rodents can’t chew through or open. You can hang it from a tree, which we did with one bag. We took a second Outsak and stored it in one of the plastic 5-gallon buckets with lids that are scattered all over the campground for people to use. Both methods seemed to work just fine, but if you go with the bucket route make sure to pile some big rocks on top and wedge it under your picnic table bench or the squirrels will find a way to open it up.

Speaking of squirrels – a bit of advice on food and toiletries while you’re away from camp or out hiking….

DO NOT leave snacks in your pack and leave it unattended, even for a few minutes. Despite our best efforts, a rogue Cliff bar was accidentally left in the bottom of a daypack while we explored the falls. Let’s just say my boyfriend will NEVER hear the end of how he let a squirrel eat a giant hole in my favorite lightweight bag…