You might think Arizona has nothing but rattlesnakes, cacti, and triple-digit temperatures. However, the waterfalls in Arizona may surprise you. The state is home to some of the most outrageous landscapes where you’ll have a hard time believing you’re on earth, let alone Arizona.
We’ve found five refreshing waterfalls in Arizona that we think are worth the adventure to dip your toes into. Let’s dive in.
Are There Waterfalls in Arizona?
While it has a reputation for being a dry desert, you can visit some incredible waterfalls in Arizona. You’ll primarily find these in the Havasu area near the Grand Canyon.
The intense colors contrasting with the bright sandstone and limestone rocks found all over the region magnify the beauty of the many waterfalls in the area.
How Many Waterfalls Are in Arizona?
Arizona has more than 15 waterfalls. Many waterfalls lie in and around the Grand Canyon, specifically in the Havasu Canyon. All of the falls in the Grand Canyon sit on the Havasupai Indian reservation.
When planning your visit, ensure you’re familiar with the requirements and obey all local rules and regulations. Hiking and camping in this area require a permit.
What Is the Biggest Waterfall in Arizona?
The biggest waterfall in Arizona is Grand Falls, and it’s taller than Niagara Falls. This 185’ tall waterfall is approximately 30 miles northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. However, unlike Niagara Falls, Grand Falls is very remote and not easily accessible.
You’ll need to cross the Little Colorado River, which can require a four-wheel-drive car. Even if you have a capable vehicle, it can be a difficult crossing, and it’s typically recommended that only Navajo guides and experienced back-country people attempt it.
Traveler’s Tip: Taller than Niagara Falls, Grand Falls in Arizona can only be seen during a few specific times during the year.
5 Refreshing Waterfalls in Arizona
Ready to go chasing waterfalls in Arizona? Let’s jump into which ones we think you should add to your list of adventures.
#1. Havasu Falls
About Havasu Falls: Havasu Falls is one of the waterfalls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation and is not an actual part of Grand Canyon National Park. Accessing the falls requires you to purchase a permit from the Havasupai Tribe, which typically goes quickly. They open their reservations on Feb. 1 at 8 a.m. each year and sell out for the entire year on that day.
To enjoy the falls, you’ll need to stay overnight. You can stay at the Havasupai Lodge or a spot at their campground. The campground has no designated sites, and campers can pitch their tents anywhere in the area. Neither of these is cheap, but it’s required if you want to enjoy Havasu Falls.
How to Get There: First off, don’t start this hike if you do not have a permit to stay overnight. It is a 10-mile hike in each direction. You hike into the canyon to reach the falls, which means a 10-mile hike out at the end of your trip. You can’t complete it in one day.
The hike down takes most people at least four to seven hours and another five to eight hours out. It has very little shade, and the temperatures can sit in the triple digits, so make sure you bring plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and a hat.
About Little Navajo Falls: Little Navajo Falls (also called New Navajo Falls) is in the same canyon as the more popular Havasu Falls. However, it attracts much less attention and is a rather secret spot.
This waterfall formed in 2008 due to a flash flood that ripped through the canyon. There’s a massive natural pool located at the base of the falls, where you’ll often find guests floating on inner tubes.
You’ll find a network of streams cascading through the rocky terrain and connecting the upper and lower falls. Many stop to enjoy the upper falls but don’t realize they can continue down the path to discover more. The upper falls are approximately 50 ft, and the lower falls are another 30 ft.
How to Get There: Once you get into the Havasu Canyon, you have a very easy hike. It’s only 1.2 miles round trip from the campground.
The entire trip takes less than an hour to complete. Make sure you build time into your schedule to enjoy the water, take a dip in the pool, and go under the falls.
#3. Beaver Falls
About Beaver Falls: Beaver Falls is a fan favorite of guests to Havasu Canyon. This is another hike on Havasupai land, so make sure you have a permit before attempting it.
It is a 3-mile hike each way from the campground, so it can provide more privacy as not everyone wants to go that far after hiking 10 miles down into the canyon.
How to Get There: To access Beaver Falls, you’ll need to use the Mooney Falls trailhead. Pass the “descend at your own risk” sign and hike to Mooney Falls.
Be very careful navigating this portion of the trail. The rocks and ladders can be very slippery. Once you reach Mooney Falls, you’ll have an additional 3-miles to Beaver Falls.
You’ll cover various terrain on your hike. You’ll likely notice several different paths to follow, but all of them will take you toward Beaver Falls.
When in doubt, follow the creek. The creek is the water source for the falls, so you won’t miss it. You will have to cross the creek a handful of times, so make sure you have the appropriate footwear and don’t be afraid to get wet.
#4. Ribbon Falls
About Ribbon Falls: Ribbon Falls is a beautiful waterfall in a lush canyon at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Many who hike the rim-to-rim trail stop to check out the view.
You’ll find trees, moss, and other vegetation growing on the rocks. The canyon walls can be a welcoming bit of shade.
The waterfall is approximately 100 ft from top to bottom. You can even cool off in the cool pool at the base of the falls before continuing your journey. If you want to check out this waterfall, make sure to do some planning because it’s worth it.
How to Get There: Hiking to Ribbon Falls requires a 16.8-mile hike with a total elevation change of just over 9,000 ft. You’ll need to acquire a backcountry camping permit for Grand Canyon National Park if you plan to stay the night. You will then hike your way down to the Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel Campground.
You’ll then take the North Kaibab Trail from the ranch or the campground for a 6-mile hike each way. Many say it takes approximately 5 hours to complete the entire journey, but the views and experience are well worth it.
Don’t forget you’ll have to hike your way out of the canyon at the end of your adventure. This can be the most strenuous and challenging part of the whole trail. Make sure you start hiking early, especially during the scorching summer months.
#5. Tanque Verde Falls
About Tanque Verde Falls: Tanque Verde Falls is an 80-ft waterfall with spots to swim and cool off in the water. It’s a great spot to take pictures and cool off if you’re here in the summer.
You’ll see plenty of saguaro cacti, and you should always keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, javelina, jackrabbits, and the many different types of birds. Tanque Verde Falls is for you if you want a moderate hike to a beautiful waterfall in Tucson.
How to Get There: The trailhead for Tanque Verde Falls is relatively easy to find. You simply drive east on Tanque Verde Road in Tucson toward Redington Pass.
Eventually, the pavement stops and turns into a dirt road. Keep going and you’ll see the trailhead parking lot on your left.
This is a 1.8-mile trail with moderate difficulty. While the path isn’t too long, it has many steep, slick rocks that you’ll need to climb. Additionally, a steady elevation gain can catch you off guard if you’re not careful.
Dip Your Toes Into These Refreshing Waterfalls in Arizona
The waterfalls in Arizona can be very refreshing, especially in summer. The intense summer heat can feel a bit overbearing, and many of these waterfalls have pools and creeks where you can relax.
We hope you can see that Arizona is more than just a desert. With a little bit of effort, you might dip your toes in one of these desert oases.
Which Arizona waterfall are you adding to your adventure bucket list?
Seven Falls is also a nice waterfall hike just outside Tucson, AZ.