Wow! Mooney Falls is such a beautiful and exciting waterfall to visit, it's a huge favorite for many people. Mooney Falls is the tallest of the Havasupai waterfalls - the water plummets nearly 200 feet (190' high) into a large blue pool. It's the perfect swimming hole on a hot summer day. The water is shaded in many places creating a cool oasis to explore and relax.
Mooney Falls can be a little scary though. Getting to the base takes some work. Though once there, it is well worth it. We urge visitors to use extreme caution when making the climb down to the base of Mooney Falls. The trail to the base of the falls winds down the shoulder of the cliff from the west canyon wall, and is marked with a worn sign. Not far down the trail a tunnel cut into the rock presents itself. As you enter the tunnel continues the downward descent. In just a few feet you are greeted with a brief 15' ledge with a fantastic view of the falls, and a 120' drop. It's advised not to cross over the safety chain, it's there for a purpose, no one survives a fall from this height.
Continue into the next short tunnel which pitches downward, but sports easy steps hewn into the rock. As you exit the second tunnel, you are facing the falls. Stopping for a brief view is ok, but don't linger as this area tends to be a traffic jam when people are ascending and descending. From here you are facing a near vertical path to the ground. Steps, iron stakes, and heavy chains give solid foot and hand holds along the way. The final 15 or 20 feet is usually traversed by 2 wooden ladders propped against the rock. The surfaces below the second tunnel are almost always wet or at least moist from the mist. So take care not to slip or lose hold.
What's in a Name?
Alphonso Humpreys wrote:
The day Mooney fell we were all down in the canyon except Beckman, and when we returned to camp there was no levity among us. Beckman noticed that, and not seeing Mooney he asked about him, and Doheny told him he fell and was killed. The next morning before any of us was up he went down to the cliff to see if Mooney had moved. He untied the rope and tossed it down with his boots and said, this is all the funeral I can give you this time. Mooney, before starting down on his rope had pulled off his boots and asked me to lend him my belt which was a wide one. I have never seen the belt to this day, but Mooney's boots showed us the way to go down and bury him. We noticed the boots on an Indian. We asked him how he got the boots. To make a long story short, Young went with the Indian, who showed him the way he went down - a dangerous trip along a crevice in the wall of the canyon part of the way. Young wouldn't try that trail, but the Indian showed us some little caves, and we made the tunnel thru the cliff.
The next year the miners returned along with Mat Humphreys and found the Indian again who showed them a small cave leading into the overhang along the south bank. They made the cave larger and blasted out a slanting tunnel, made the steps, and suspending one of the party on a rope, set the iron spikes in the cliff below the tunnel. Mat Humphreys did the drilling and said that he almost stood on his head while doing so.
The miners buried Mooney's preserved, lime-encrusted body on the little island below the falls, but one of the elder members of the tribe told me that a flood had exposed the remains and Mooney was reburied up on a ledge on the west side of the canyon. The exact location is currently unknown.
Below Mooney Falls
If exploring a secluded natural 'garden' in a beautiful place surrounded by red cliffs and turquoise water sounds like fun, this place is for you. There are wild grape vines and lots of other flora below Mooney Falls. Occasionally a bighorn sheep or deer might be glimpsed dining on the lush greenery. Scanning the higher levels of the canyon reveals a stark contrast between desert and the oasis along the creek. But most of your attention will be drawn to the inviting pools of cool, clear water.
About a quarter mile downstream from Mooney Falls there is the remnants of an old mining ladder. It leads to a tunnel that followed a quartz vein. Quartz veins often bear silver ore or gold, which is what the miners were after. The ladder was erected in the late 1800s it's metal frame was bolted sturdily into the rock face of the canyon. The rungs about 3-4' apart served as a frame for an elaborate wooden construction. The wood has long fallen away. The lower portion of the ladder was removed in the late 50s after some adventurers were injured.
Beaver Falls is about 3 miles below Mooney Falls. You reach Beaver by following Havasu Creek as the semi apparent trail that crosses the water several times.