Havasupai Falls Update: 2019 fees and procedure
Reservations for the 2019 Havasupai Falls hiking seasons open on February 1 at 8:00AM Arizona time. At some time in the past few days the Tribe posted fee information for the 2019 season and there are some MAJOR changes.
First, fees have sharply increased. For 2019 the fees are $100/PERSON/weekday night and $125/PERSON/weekend night.
Second, the reservation length is fixed at 3 days/4 nights. Based on the website information it appears that this is the only option, no more and no less. That will make your trip somewhere between $300-$350 to see the falls this year.
Once again this year, reservations must be made online at https://www.havasupaireservations.com/ and must be made in advance--no walk-in reservations and no phone reservations. Go to the reservation website now to make an account. Last year reservations went extremely quickly and the website was overwhelmed, so the last thing you want to be doing on the 1st at 8:00 is making an account. I found that dates would be selected, but abandoned, so if you have very limited availability keep refreshing the website to see if your dates show up again.
My first reaction was annoyance with such a steep price increase and fixed trip length, but after taking a few moments to think about it, I think it could be a huge improvement with crowd management. As with many formerly remote destinations, Instagram and other internet publicity have made Havasupai Falls a worldwide destination, meaning more people, crowded campgrounds, greater wear-and-tear, and increased trash/waste.
Price increases alone seem unlikely to reduce the crowds, they'll just limit entry to those who can afford the trip--which is a shame since in years past your ability to see these sites wasn't very dependent on financial ability, and we all know ability to pay doesn't always translate to respect for the environment.
My guess is that the fixed trip length will have the biggest impact on crowds. For example, if I go this year it will be for only two nights. This means when my group leaves early we will leave behind an empty campsite that's taken on paper. I'm betting a lot of people will find themselves in similar situation and won't use their whole stay, leaving the rest of us with some solitude and also more camp site selection.