The third waterfall along the spectacular Havasu Falls Trail below the Supai village in the Havasu Canyon, Mooney Falls is arguably the most stunning. It’s the tallest of the waterfalls along Havasu Creek, with the water dropping about 65m over a cliff covered in travertine stalactites.
The waterfall is named after D. W. “James” Mooney, a miner, who died here in 1882. One version of his death says after visiting the falls with a group of friends, James Mooney tried to climb up the falls with his companion tied to his back, and subsequently fell to his death. Another story has Mooney attempting to find a way down to the waterfall’s base with the aid of rope, but the rope wasn’t long enough so he hung there exposed to the elements until his death.
Unlike the other waterfalls, reaching Mooney Falls involves a sometimes precarious climb down the vertical cliffs around the falls. The trail goes through some tunnels in the cliffs, before becoming a rock climb that involves chains, handholds, and ladders to reach the bottom.
The bottom of the falls is a popular swimming hole, and while it’s the largest of all the pools, it’s generally less busy than Havasu Falls. It’s more shaded than the other waterfalls, due to the tall and narrow canyon.
Getting to Mooney Falls in the Havasu Canyon
The waterfall is the third one the trail from Supai Village as you descend Havasu Creek towards the Colorado River. It’s a about 12.3km hike from Hualapai Hilltop to Supai, and then about 3.6km further to reach Mooney Falls, which requires a steep and partly exposed scramble to the base of the falls.
Hualapai Hilltop is a 4.5 hour drive (420km / 260 miles) from Phoenix in Arizona or 4 hours (365km / 225 miles) from Las Vegas in Nevada, which are the closest major airports.
The official “hiking season” is February to November, and during summer (June to August) the trail is subject to close due to flooding and extreme heat. A pre-purchased permit is essential.