How To Havasupai: Permits #GirlsWhoHike

[Featured on Girls Who Hike’s blog]

If you are reading this now, you may be curious about how a person obtains a permit to hike and camp for the infamous blue-green waters of Havasupai that are ALL OVER social media. How does one achieve such coveted slips of paper for the ultimate paradise experience?

General Permit Information:

The system has become simplified in the past two years, fortunately for everyone. We are now on the brink of a permanent online transition to obtain permits for this wonderful place–Meaning, you do not have to go through the pure torture of calling thousands upon thousands of times to get through their phone system.

I have had the sincere pleasure of experiencing this place twice in the past couple of years and have faced firsthand both systems, and the pros and cons that each system brings. I have called thousands and thousands of times, and I have also found out about the online system before it crashed three hours later, never to resurface again. Poor thing.

Recent Changes:

  • Online system
  • Fee Increase
  • Reservation Limit
  • Secondary Permit Holder

Some of their biggest changes this year include a permanent transition to their online system for the reservation of permits. This makes it super accessible (even from your work computer, let’s be honest) and makes it easy to receive confirmation immediately. However, everyone has access to this website from anywhere, and therefore, it will likely crash the website (again), or the permits will be sold out almost immediately. Womp, womp.

The other big change I have seen is the significant rise in fees compared to last year. To quote the website directly, I have included the fees for just ONE PERSON below:

  • For one night: $140.56
  • For two nights: $171.11
  • For three nights: $201.67

In addition, weekends AND holidays/spring break include a $18.33 additional fee. The dates are as follows:

  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights
  • February 19th
  • March 5-8th (Spring Break)
  • March 19-22nd (Spring Break)
  • May 28th
  • July 4th
  • September 3rd
  • October 8th

Some smaller changes, but still important include:

– A reservation limit of three nights (Four Days). However, multiple reservations can be made consecutively.

– A secondary Permit Holder can be provided and vouch for the reservation (with Photo ID)

Lastly, permits are NON-REFUNDABLE and NON-TRANSFERABLE. So that Secondary Permit Holder will be coming in clutch if for whatever reason the primary permit holder cannot attend.

Now the questions is: What do I do on February 1st??

Tips from past experience:

  • Wake up early. I requested the day off of work because I planned to call all day, but the online system may eliminate that need.
  • Choose dates during the week–more availability, and it is now cheaper. I always planned to drive Sunday (no traffic), and planned to hike into the campground on Monday morning.
  • Once you’re in, pick ANY campsite. It is first come, first serve upon arrival, so it does not matter what you choose online. I spent precious time trying to decide just to get bumped off the website multiple times.
  • Forget all the extra information it asks (Vehicle information, etc.). I mean, fill it out if you want, but considering it is a new system, I would not risk getting bumped off. I did not fill a thing (Except personal information, CC info, number of people attending, etc) and still successfully reserved. PLUS they have you fill out the miscellaneous information at the Village when you check in.
  • Expect to pay for everyone all at once, all up front. So, really decide on a number that will work for your group.
  • Reserve in pairs of two. If you lose people prior to the trip, or if you over-estimate the group number, it is easier to get a pair of friends or a couple to join than just one person.
  • Set-up a group of committed people to reserve tickets with you. Use speaker phone or video chat in order to know if some one ends up getting through the website to reserve.
  • If the website crashes, or if it is sold out, give them a call after! A LOT of cancellations happened last year, and even during July, the campground was relatively empty!

And once you get your reservations, take a deep breath! You made it! And it is now time for planning! How exciting!

Happy hiking!

– N. ❤