Arizona, Havasupai

Hiking to Mooney Falls – Day 2

I’m not sure why TLC wanted to stick to rivers and lakes that they’re used to, but I’m going to continue chasing waterfalls! Although, I’m not sure if I’ve been kind of ruined after seeing some of these in Havasupai because they are pretty spectacular, even the small ones forming steps down into the canyon along the creek. Havasu Falls from my previous post is the most famous waterfall gem, but Mooney Falls and Beavers Falls have their own grandeur and dreaminess!

We hiked to both Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls on Day 2, and it’s usually done together for most people, though some people opt not to go further than Mooney Falls. That’s a bit of a shame to me since one has already made it out as far as here…might as well! But also, hiking to Beaver Falls was an incredible experience, as the hike is surprisingly lush and dramatically beautiful. And I’m not just saying that; this is probably one of the most exotic hikes I’ve done. So I recommend doing Beaver Falls if you can!

My favorite shot from Mooney Falls! 🙂

To get to Beaver Falls, you’ll ford small streams and scale rocks and cross wooden plank bridges, but it won’t even feel like work trying to find your destination! In fact, if there’s one thing this trip to Havasupai has taught me, it is that the journey is sometimes just as amazing as what you expect to find at the end of it. Even if it means a lot of hard work, the prize is that much more sweet! But I didn’t actually think it was hard work at all and the trek was so enjoyable that at times I forgot where we were heading.

I guess I’m accidentally talking up my next post to come :P, as I’m going to share more details on the Beaver Falls hike next time. It deserves its own post!

Read on to see more about Mooney Falls, the largest of the Havasupai waterfalls!

As I said, Mooney Falls is the largest out of all the falls at about a 200-ft drop. It is really a sight to behold, but requires a little bit of rock climbing to get down the to base of the waterfall and not really that much hiking. It is located at the very end of the flat campgrounds site (around a mile from Havasu Falls), and you really can’t miss it as the trail through the campgrounds will end at Mooney Falls.

Out of all of the falls, this one scares me the most, and probably rightfully so since it is the largest. It’s also named Mooney Falls after D.W. “James” Mooney who fell to his death trying to scale up the canyon walls near this waterfall in the 1880s. So I guess “Mooney Falls” to his death…har har. Ok, not that funny. 😛 I learned very long ago that I’m just not a funny person, so humor me if I try. (Pun not intended…)

A cliff appears as you reach the end of the campgrounds trail, and if you look over the edge, you’ll see Mooney Falls! The only way to check out Beaver Falls is to get down to the base of Mooney Falls and keep following the creek downstream deeper in to the canyon.

Overlooking the cliff where Mooney Falls starts!

To get down, you have to carefully climb down some rocks until you reach a little tunnel passageway in the rocks. It’s not that long of a tunnel, but only one average person can fit in it at a time. So you will have to stop at times to let people up before you can go down. I didn’t feel too claustrophobic in this tunnel, but I did want to get out of there to the other side as quickly as possible since it was dark and someone else behind us was whining about possible rock slides. THANKS, MAN.

Of note, hubby was still able to fit through the tunnel with his big backpack on his back. My best friend’s boyfriend who is likely 6’2 was also able to do the same, but they’re both pretty fit, slim guys.

My best friend entering the first tunnel to climb down. It’s like steps/stairs, but pretty steep.

Travel Pearl: At this point, if you haven’t already figured it out, make sure you have GOOD SHOES. Don’t hike down in your flip flops! And if you happen to have some gloves, they might not be a bad idea either.

Once you’re out of the first tunnel, there will be a little clearing space in the rocks where you get another glimpse of Mooney Falls. The water is so strong that you can actually feel some of the mist and spray all the way over here from the waterfall! Also, be careful if you lean over as my husband lost his sunglasses over the edge at this point. Le sigh. We couldn’t find it at the bottom either. Oh well, we’ve lost much more valuable items. *Cough* GoPro in Tahiti *Cough*. But here you’ll wait to scale down a second tunnel!

The clearing before climbing down the second tunnel.

We waited to go down a second tunnel for awhile because there were people coming back up. This tunnel leads out to a very rocky wall which is almost vertical and you’ll have to climb down the side of the canyon. There are chains, handholds, and a big wooden ladder nailed into the walls at the very end right before you hit the ground. It’s better to go down backwards (in my opinion) and grasp the chains and round handholds.

We are actually coming back up in this photo, which I thought was a little easier than going down!

The water and mist from the waterfall make this portion of rock climbing more difficult because the rocks and handholds are wet, muddy, and slippery.  Being the overly prepared and awesome husband that he is, my husband packed me a pair of “tactical” gloves that had decent grip and it made the climb down pretty fun and not too bad at all!

Enjoy the mist some more once you get to the bottom, and take in the grandeur of Mooney Falls! You can hang out here for a bit and there is a picnic table in the water too. However, my suggestion is not to linger for too long if you’re planning to go to Beaver falls. There’s still another 3 miles hike to go and plenty of beautiful scenery to view and photos to be taken!

Best friend’s boyfriend took this one…he’s actually a pro photographer!
Look at all that mist and water spray! This was a very powerful waterfall!
Enjoyed the view of the waterfall from further downstream.  We basically climbed down the wall on the right! This is the way you will go towards Beaver Falls!

Travel Pearl: Since you will have to pass by Mooney Falls again when returning from Beaver Falls, I suggest you take your photos or hang out here after you return from Beaver Falls. This sunlight on the water/canyon is nicer in the afternoon so you don’t have as much shadow, and plus you’re not as far away from the campsite if you get tired and want to head back! You will want to be out of the area before sundown! It will get very dark and climbing those slippery walls and rocks will NOT be fun in the dark.

And please don’t be daft and try to swim behind Mooney Falls. The undertow on this one is apparently very strong. I’m pretty sure you won’t make it out alive! Just remember that Nature is a force to be reckoned with. Hubris is not a pretty thing, especially when you’re dead! 😉

Stay tuned for Beaver Falls! 🙂

This was taken in the afternoon after coming back from Beaver Falls. (Hence, I look pretty sweaty and gross :P, but that mist was SO refreshing!) We did it!!

2 thoughts on “Hiking to Mooney Falls – Day 2

  1. I wished I could have read your blog twenty years ago (if blog was popular at my age), so I would travel this beautiful place as you recommended. At least, however, I could “image my own experience” via your photos and tips. You would probably argue it would be total different if I could be there physically. Thank you, Jasmine, for sharing the wonderful journal.

    1. Thanks for your support always! 🙂 I have no doubt you could do this 20 years ago but maybe this place would be less well known 20 years ago too! Haha! Even now, there are still people who don’t know about it, but I’m glad to say we tried it and were able to share with you 🙂

Leave a Reply