Fern Spring – Havasu Falls Campground area

Always carry adequate drinking water when hiking this area.  Especially for the section between the Trail Head parking area, and the village.  Be sure to factor in drinking, cooking food, and wetting down hats and bandana’s. During the summer be sure to carry at least 1 gallon of water per person.

There is no water source at the trail head or anywhere close. Bring it with you! 

Depending on which direction you are driving in from, make sure you have adequate water with you. You can pick it up as you travel through Seligman or Peach Springs. Those locations depends on your direction of travel.   Peach Springs may be more difficult?  If coming through Kingman you are wise to grab some there.

If you are traveling odd hours of the night you better plan ahead.  Many places may be closed.

That goes for filling your gas tank before turning off onto IR#18 to go north to the trail head.  Plan on about 130 miles minimum round trip back to being able to gas up.  IR#18 out to the trail head and back is desolate.  There are not houses or businesses along that route.

Don’t start hiking between the trail head and the village without water.  You won’t make it!

I always make sure I have additional water stashed in my vehicle for my return hike up out of the canyon.

Many caution that plain water is not enough to simple hydrate. Especially in the summer months. Electrolyte replacement is recommended and may be necessary.

I personally have done just fine on 3 or 4 day backpacking trips drinking plain water.  I have never had a problem or felt different than normal.  But I do not have issues with my electrolyte levels.

I hope someone with medical knowledge will take the time to write us an article we can post.  Recommendations suggesting best products, quantities, and the reasoning of the “why”.   Until then, you know your body the best.

Once you start down the trail head you have to make about 9.5 miles to the village center of Supai before you have water. Just prior to the village the stream is available but be sure to filter since animals may cause severe gastrointestinal problems created by bacteria or parasites. The horses, among other animals, do walk through it, poop in it, and pee, in that water.

There is a water spigot at the Camper Check-in building, in Supai. Some report it is safe, but tastes funky. I don’t know if that is treated water or not?

You can normally purchase bottled water, up to gallon sizes, from the store in Supai.  That is how I top off my supply while passing through the village.


Let us change subject slightly.  If you are camping multiple days, you may wish to bring some collapsible water storage/carrying vessel.  I mention this because many recommend these.  I don’t.

Smaller Pack bladders can be inadequate unless you don’t mind walking to the spring on a daily basis.  I personally make the trip every day.  To me, packing something extra is not worth the additional weight.

Some times there is a waiting line too.   The campground is fairly long and narrow.  You may not end up camping close to the spring.  You will have to balance added pack weight against convenience.   Then make a choice. 

You certainly don’t want a collapsible vessel that holds 5 gallons then expect to carry it full with nearly 40lbs of water through the campground.

Maybe with multiple people, or using a wheelbarrow?  But now which is more of a hassle and inconvenience?

The official Havasupai Website is recommending you filter any stream or spring water.

I personally will not use the stream water even filtered.

There are opinions that will be offered up, that go against our recommendations, or the warnings found on the official Havasupai Website states.

The next water source beyond the village, other than the stream, is in the campground.  So that is about 2.5 miles beyond the center of the village. This source is Fern Spring.

Those heading off to hike to the Confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River better be well prepared.  Carry enough water for a strenuous 16 mile hike, and a backup high end water filter.  Avoid using the creek water [down stream of many people and animals] unless you get into an emergency.


While many use this spring unfiltered and never seem to have problems, I have suffered the ill effects of drinking unfiltered, supposedly safe water.  You can’t tell by looking at it, believe me.  It can really make you miserable for several weeks and require hospitalized medical attention.

My experience was not from the Havasu area. But I did contact E. Coli once that landed me in the hospital for 3 days on IV’s. So I do filter even that spring, as I do any other place that is unfiltered or untreated.  Also be aware simple filters are not 100% effective either.  If you are buying a filter, invest in a quality product that protects you from the wide range of hazards.

If you are day hiking from the campground area to Beaver Falls, or further, be sure to carry at least a gallon of drinking water per person. No one with any sense recommends drinking the stream water (down stream of the village) unless boiled for an adequate length of time, or using a high end filter. Even then it is not recommended for drinking water.

Havasu Creek running through the area, over the falls you will visit, and all the way down to Beaver and beyond to the Colorado, I would definitely boil or filter with a high end filter & viro cartridge before using….but I wouldn’t even use that source unless it was an emergency. You are downstream of too many contaminants regardless if it appears pristine.

Some backpackers that are swimming in the water have reported problems on our Facebook group.  They thought they got something from getting water in their mouth swimming.  For all anyone knows, it could be from whatever source they used as drinking water.

A note on filter choice and reasoning why you should:
Using a filter on the spring (based on life experiences and having problems) is a must by me. It is a personal choice. I also go to Beaver, etc and in a pinch I might use the stream if it meant life or death. But I carry my filter with me. I would rather go prepared instead. The stream in this area is mostly downstream of the village, many swimming, and those inappropriately bathing with soap because they have no sense. Doing their business in the water instead of using the pit toilets.  Not to mention all the animals and runoff from their waste. That stream water is questionable for sure.

I use a high output Katadyn Vario which pumps on both the up stroke, as well as the down stroke. It also direct attaches to the most popular water bottles and hydration bladders. You can also attach a virus/iodine cartridge. Most of even the best filters do not remove some of the microscopic threats. There are better rated filters, than I even carry.

Chancing not filtering is not worth taking the few extra minutes for the added safety.

E.Coli is just one of many problems. E.Coli is a common one caused from microscopic particles of feces, either human or animal. Fine restaurants even struggle to avoid this contaminate when it comes to food safety.

To me it is not worth following the lead of many that don’t filter and claim everything is safe and wonderful. You wouldn’t know until it was too late. It has nothing to do with how iron clad you think your stomach is, or how healthy you consider yourself. Even Fern Spring occasionally has been tagged that it needs to be filtered.  That contamination notice has been rare. Still the tribe on its website indicates to filter all streams and springs.

It all boils down to personal choice and the risks you are willing to take. If you think you are impervious.  Please just don’t try to convince others to follow that thinking.  Just stay silent and do your thing.  Let them do theirs.