Havasupai Confluence Hike: Is it worth it? + Essential Tips

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If you’re debating whether or not to tackle the Havasupai Confluence Hike on your trip to Havasu Falls, this guide will help you decide whether or not this long and challenging trek will be worth it for you.

Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona

If you are planning a trip to Havasupai (yay!), you will likely come across information about the notorious confluence hike, on which adventure seekers will trek to the point where the tranquil Havasupai Creek meets the roaring Colorado river.

And if you’re like me, your head is already spinning with questions like: How hard is it? Is it worth it? What’s the hardest part?

The good news is that we have personally hiked this trail and are about to spill all our insider knowledge and honest opinions so you know what to expect and how to decide whether or not to go.

The Confluence hiking guide

Before we go any further: Do you have your permit yet? If not, be sure to check out our step-by-step guide that explains how to get a Havasupai permit.

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Our experience hiking to the Confluence

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the Confluence Hike, see exactly what our experience looked like in real life. In this video, you’ll see clips from our hike to the Confluence (as well as the rest of the Havasupai Trail), and we’ll share our honest opinions and tips you won’t find anywhere else.

Now, let’s get to the biggest question you’re probably wondering…

Is the Confluence Hike worth it?

Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona

We spent a lot of time before our trip debating whether the hike to the confluence was worth it…

We knew it was long and would require a whole day. And I just wasn’t sure if I would want to add on another 12+ miles after hiking the 10 miles into the campground.

Spoiler alert: We ended up doing the hike, and in my opinion, it WAS worth it.

But I don’t think it is for everybody.

This hike can be very dangerous (much, much more so than the hike from the trailhead to the campground) and requires planning ahead. 

There are lots of river crossings, scrambling, and times you’ll likely lose the trail.

But those who attempt it are in for quite the Indiana Jones style adventure. You’ll get far off the beaten path and likely will only see a handful of other people the entire day. 

Plus, the sight of the brown Colorado River meeting the turquoise Havasu Creek is a pretty cool reward. That said, the sight of the confluence isn’t necessarily the highlight of this hike. It’s cool, but if that’s your only reason for doing this hike, you’ll likely be disappointed.

Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona

The best part is the adventure and the fact that it’s way less busy than everywhere else in Havasupai. 

I would definitely consider this hike to be type 2 fun* at many points. It is quite long and treacherous in some places, but you’ll feel like such a badass and will be able to see places most people who camp at Havasupai never get to. 

*Type 2 fun: in the moment it sucks, but it is fun after the fact and makes a great memory. Lots of hikes can be considered “type 2 fun”!

Now I have a question for you: Which of the following statements resonates with you?

  1. I’m still wondering if this hike is for me…
  2. Sign me up, I’m 100% in already!
  3. Nope, definitely not for me.

If you identify with #1 or #2, you should definitely read our guide to hiking to the confluence. It’ll help you determine if it’s for you, and it’s packed with tips that will help ensure you have a safe (and happy!) hike.

And if #3 is your answer, good for you for knowing your limits. You can skip this guide and stick to the iconic Havasu Falls Hike. But at least now you’ll know what people are talking about when they reference “the confluence”!

The Confluence hike stats

Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona
  • Distance: 16.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,975 feet
  • Difficulty: hard
  • Type of hike: out and back
  • Alltrails map

Below is the route you’ll take at a glance:


Havasu Falls campground Havasupai Arizona

Depending on where your campsite is located, you may be tacking on an additional 1-2 miles to this already long hike.

If you know you definitely want to do this hike, we recommend trying to camp between the second and third bathrooms, as being on the far end of the campground will lessen the distance you need to hike this day.

Our advice: Leave around 7 or 7:30 a.m. so that you have ample time for this hike and stops along the way.

Distance to Mooney Falls: Mooney is located at the end of the campground, so the distance depends on where your site is located (about 1 mile of hiking to reach if you are camped near the first toilet)

Mooney Falls

Mooney Falls Havasu Falls Hike Havasupai Arizona USA

You will descend the notorious ladder section at Mooney Falls. Depending on what time you get here, there may already be others going down. If so, give everyone space and know you may not be able to go down as fast as you’d like. (This was the case for us).

This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Havasupai, so be sure to take photos and appreciate where you are!

Distance to Beaver Falls: 2 miles

Beaver Falls

Beaver Falls Havasupai

Beaver Falls was our personal favorite of all the waterfalls at Havasupai. We recommend taking photos from the viewpoint above before you descend. 

Photo tip: The lighting is best in the early morning and the late afternoon.

If you get here early, you may have it all to yourself as most people who aren’t continuing onto the Confluence hike will get here a little later. Have a snack here and jump into the water. It’s colder than it looks but it is really nice once you get used to it!

Important: Do not leave this point any later than 10:30 a.m. or you may not be able to hike to the confluence and back to the campground before the sun sets. There is a sign that says not to leave any later than 10:30 a.m. Please listen!

Grand Canyon National Park

Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona

Shortly after leaving Beaver Falls, you’ll see a sign that marks the end of the Havasupai Reservation and the beginning of Grand Canyon National Park. (There’s not an office or anything – just a small sign.)

Not much changes about the landscape and you likely wouldn’t know you’ve left the reservation if not for the sign.

The biggest difference in our opinion is that the trail in the national park is less maintained than the trails on the reservation. It also sees much less traffic, so it is small and there are places where you will need to bushwack and scramble on top of rocks.

You will follow the trail that hugs (and crosses!) the river. If you’re lucky you’ll be in the shade of the canyon for much (but not all) of the hike. 

Good to know: When you are on National Park land, the reservation cannot do anything to help you if you get injured or lost. We met someone who lost his hiking partner (thankfully she was found eventually), and the Reservation rangers said they can’t do anything to help in this situation.

Distance to the Confluence (from Beaver Falls): 3 miles


Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona

You will start to see the looming walls of the Grand Canyon in the distance, and eventually the trail dead ends on a cliff that overlooks the Colorado River. 

You can enjoy the view from above and you can also walk down to the water’s edge.

You’ll be able to see the vibrant turquoise waters of the Havasupai Creek mixing with the murky brown Colorado River, which is pretty cool. 

This is a good place for a lunch break – you earned it!

If you get into the water, you can walk up the Havasupai Creek in a narrow slot canyon that somewhat resembles The Narrows hike in Zion National Park.

Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona

Sometimes hikers will see rafting groups come through this area as the creek is a popular place for rafters to take a break.

When we were there, some hikers brought fishing poles and tried their luck in the waters of the Colorado River. There were some fish hanging out in the shallow water, but they didn’t bite. You cannot fish on the reservation, so if you want to try your luck, you will need to hike to the Colorado River.

Distance from the Confluence to the campground: about 6 miles (again, varies depending on where your campsite is located)

Return back to the campground

Havasu Falls campground Havasupai Arizona

Watch your time at the confluence and don’t leave too late. 

Give yourself some buffer time in case you get lost on the way back!

Insider Tip: We recommend stopping at Beaver Falls again on your way back as the lighting is lovely in the late afternoon and few people (if any) are still hanging around. We had it completely to ourselves!

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to watch the time. You definitely don’t want to be climbing up the ladders at Mooney Falls in the dark.

How long does the hike to the Confluence take?

Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona

In short, all day.

We left the campground at 8:20 a.m., and returned at 5:40 p.m., just before sunset. 

Here’s what our timings looked like for the day:

  • 8:20 leave campground*
  • 8:55 bottom of Mooney Falls 
  • 9:50 Beaver Falls (hung out and went swimming)
  • 10:30 left Beaver Falls and started the hike to the confluence 
  • 12:35 reached the confluence, had lunch and relaxed
  • 1:20 left the confluence
  • 3:40 Beaver Falls, stopped to swim again
  • 4:07 leave Beaver falls 
  • 5:15 bottom of Mooney Falls
  • 5:40 returned to the campground 

*We got a late start to the day (because we were trying to change campsites, but then decided against it). We’d recommend leaving by 7 a.m. as we were feeling a bit of pressure on the return hike.

Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona
Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona

Breaks we took:

  • There was a short line at Mooney Falls, so we had to stop and wait on the way down to give people their space.
  • We spent roughly an hour at the confluence, eating lunch and hanging out. 
  • We also had a bit of time to swim at Beaver Falls on our way there and back.
  • There was a section where we (and a group of others) got lost for quite some time.
  • Additionally, we spent some time on the way back searching for a lost hiker (who eventually made it back to the campground well after dark – we were about to involve the ranger).

Good to know: We are relatively fast hikers, so take that into consideration when looking at our times.

How difficult is the confluence hike?

Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona

This is a really subjective question and the answer depends on you and your personal hiking experience.

There’s very minimal elevation gain, so it’s not difficult in the way that you think of hiking in the mountains. 

However, there are several river crossings and some areas where you will need to scramble a bit. 

There are also places where it is easy to lose the trail and get lost, so you need a certain level of patience.

Our personal experience: There was one section of the trail where we got lost for a while. There ended up being a group of us lost together because it was so difficult to see the trail. It was at this point where one hiker got very lost and some of us went searching for her. She ended up making it back to the campground after dark, but it could have been a very dangerous situation. Please be mindful of this as you do this hike.

I think the most difficult part is that it is a long hike, and due to sunset times (which vary throughout the year), you may need to hustle in order to get there and back. Combine this long hike with the already long hike to reach Havasupai, and you’re looking at some very tired legs!

Safety tips for hiking to the Confluence

Havasu Falls The Confluence Hike Havasupai Arizona
  • Start this hike early! There is a sign that says not to leave Beaver Falls after 10:30 a.m., and after personal experience, we think this is a good rule to follow. This trail takes longer than you think (trust us!), and you don’t want to be caught out there after dark!
  • Carry a first aid kit. Be sure it is well-stocked before you head on on your hike.
  • Bring an SOS device for emergency use. This is the one we have and it worked really well on this trail.
  • Hike with a partner. Being that there is no cell service and it’s a very long hike out if you are injured, this is not a trail we’d personally recommend as a solo adventure. That said, we did see backpackers on their own, so it’s not unheard of. 
  • Know that your phone’s GPS will likely not work on this trail. It’s very common for the signals to get mixed up in this canyon.
  • Be sure you have travel insurance, and read the fine print so you fully understand your coverage.
  • Be sure you have plenty of water (or a way to properly filter).
  • Before your trip, look up the sunset times for your dates so you know exactly when it will start getting dark.
  • Every time you do a river crossing, take a good look at your surroundings so you can hopefully remember it on the way back. You may even want to take a photo of where the trail is once you cross the water. We had multiple instances where it was really difficult to find the trail after a river crossing.

What to pack for The Confluence Hike

Havasupai Confluence Hike

We have an entire guide on what to pack for your trip to Havasupai, but you certainly won’t need it all when you do this day hike. Here are the essentials to bring and what to leave behind at your campsite.

  • Water hiking shoes (like Chacos)
  • Sun protection (UV shirt, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses)
  • Headlamp (in case you are caught hiking after dark)
  • Lunch and snacks
  • First aid kit and blister care
  • Swimsuit
  • SOS device
  • A good attitude and energy! This is a long hike, so be prepared!

Don’t forget to download our complete packing list for hiking Havasupai! It’s packed with good suggestions and insider tips to help plan your trip. And it’s completely FREE, so why not!?

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What not to bring

Havasu Falls Hike Havasupai Arizona
  • Hiking poles: We brought hiking poles on the confluence hike, thinking they’d be helpful for river crossings, but again, we didn’t really need them. They were hard to secure to our daypack and got in the way when we were bushwacking (a common theme of this trail), so we personally wished we hadn’t brought them. If you love poles, go for it – we’re not huge on them to begin with.
  • Hammock: You will not have enough time to relax and chill much at all, as this hike will take the majority of your day. The bulk of carrying a hammock to use it for a short amount of time wouldn’t be worth it. Save the hammock for another day in Havasupai.

Plan the perfect Havasupai backpacking trip

Now that you know exactly what to expect on the Confluence Hike, here are some other Havasupai articles to check out. We’ve got tons of guides filled with essential information and secret tips that’ll ensure you have the adventure of a lifetime!

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We want to hear from you!

Are you planning a trip to hike to Havasupai? Do you have more questions about doing the Confluence Hike? Comment below and we’ll do our best to get back to you!

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