Havasu Falls is an amazing place that many people hope to see at least once in their lifetime. Planning a trip to this magical spot leaves many wondering about visiting Havasu Falls with kids. Is it possible? Is it safe? How difficult is it? What do we need to think about in planning our trip? Will my kids enjoy visiting Havasu Falls? These questions are very common but the internet doesn’t offer many straight answers. Our guides have been taking kids to Havasupai for twenty years and have all the answers, so I’ve answered the key questions you’ll probably be asking if you’re thinking of visiting Havasu Falls with kids.
Yes! Havasu Falls is like nature’s waterpark for adults and kids alike. A family vacation here will be one that the kids never forget! But the hike into and out of Havasu Canyon is quite strenuous. It is really best for older kids (10+ years) with good hiking experience. Hiking in the Grand Canyon can be exhausting and dangerous so prepare yourself and your children well. Be advised that kids need an entrance permit and camping pass the same as adults.
With proper preparation and expectations, hiking and camping in Havasupai can be a safe and fun adventure for all! Remember that all outdoor recreation carries inherent risks. As with any situation around water, never leave your kids unattended. There are many calm pools in Havasupai that are perfect for the little ones to frolic in. However, in some areas there are strong currents that can pull even adults over the waterfalls, so be smart about where your swim and always be watching!
Being aware of your child’s health while hiking and while playing in the water is also very important. Kids tend to burn a lot of energy, so keeping an endless supply of snacks on hand is key. And I mean endless. They should be salty or protein rich snacks like granola bars, nuts, chips, peanut butter, to name a few options. Certain times of the year can be extremely warm in Havasupai, with temperatures ranging from 90-100F. Make sure that kids have on sun protection such as a sun hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Take frequent, short breaks in the shade and carry extra water to get bandanas and clothing wet.
On the other hand, kids can also get cold and borderline hypothermic quickly. The water in Havasupai is on average 68 deg F year-round. If the air temperatures are not very high, kids can start to develop blue lips and their body temperature will drop dramatically. Because many kids take to water like fish, they often will not stop playing in the water even if they are cold. Make sure to monitor children’s appearance, and wrap them up in towel in the sun for a few minutes to heat up.
The hike to Havasu Falls is ten miles, one-way. We recommend a minimum age of 10. Younger children may be able to complete the hike, if they have hiking experience. Start your kids off with short hikes around home, and slowly add mileage to see how they do. There is no water for the first 8 miles of the Havasupai hike, so practice hiking with the kids carrying their own packs with 2-3 liters of water. Ten miles may sound like a long way for your little one, and it can be if they or you are unprepared . Kids tend to react well to many short breaks throughout the hike.
The hike: Hike. Break. Snack. Repeat! Kids do exceptionally well on hikes if you provide them with fun snacks along the way, and give them time to take a short break from hiking to do something else fun, like search for insects under rocks or sit in the shade and spray themselves with a spray bottle. Research some simple but entertaining word games for the hike in. Kids generally forget to complain if they are distracted by a game while hiking!
The water: Stake out a safe spot for the kids to explore, that is far away from any waterfalls or drop offs. Bring along a floating frisbee, or water balls for a fun family activity. If kids are going to jump off any rocks or small waterfalls, make sure that an adult checks the area under the water first, to ensure safety. Kids and adults alike should always wear water shoes because of the sharp, travertine covered rocks.
The camping: Camping can be a fun and educational experience all in one. If the kiddos like the creepy crawly sort, bring a small black light to go in search of scorpions, which “glow” under the light to many a child’s delight!
Campfires are not allowed in Havasupai, so prepare the kids for this and focus on the positives, such as epic star viewing. Download the handy apps SkyView or StarWalk, which don’t need internet connection and are a fun virtual guide to the stars. If the moon is full, take a short night hike to Havasu Falls for a fun “night view” of the falls.
Visiting Havasu Falls with kids is possible, and many people do it, but adequate preparation will mean the difference between a fun trip and a miserable failure. Learn more about planning your trip to Havasupai, whether with or without your little ones.