Standing 196 feet tall (60 meters), Mooney Falls is the second most popular waterfall of the south rim and the fourth in the Havasupai waterfall series.Grand Canyon Secrets.com
While Havasu Falls is known for representing the most intense turquoise water of all the Havasu Canyon waterfalls, Mooney falls is known for its tremendous height and challenging access.
Standing 196 feet tall (60 meters), Mooney Falls is the second most popular waterfall of the south rim and the fourth in the Havasupai waterfall series.
Mooney Falls features a single jet surrounded by immense brick-colored columns of jagged rock. The waterfall drops into a shallow pool (knee-deep in almost every direction), sending energetic sprays of mist hundreds of feet into the surroundings.
Failing to find a way to descend by hiking, Mooney’s plan was to repel down the waterfall using a rope. His plan seemed obviously simple, however he didn’t factor in the sharpness of the rock columns and a few scrapes later, his rope was frayed and he was dangling by thin fibers. His friends tried to pull him up, but the strain only caused the wasted rope to weaken and Mooney fell to his death.
The story goes that Mooney’s friends, returning to the site the day after Mooney’s fall, found a local Indian wearing their friend’s boots. When they asked him how he got them, the Indian showed them a set of small caves he’d gone through and then a steep “trail” that led to the base. The party quickly deemed the Indian’s trail as too dangerous and after making note of the terrain, they returned home. Almost a year later, the remaining party, along with a new member, Mat Humphreys, returned to the site with the goal of tunneling through the caves.
Today’s existing trail is the proof of their success; blasting through the caves, a route into the rock was created by widening the natural tunnels. Humphrey then hammered spikes and chains into the face of the rock to aid his descent. Although meant as temporary guide , Humphrey’s Trail is still used today to aid visitors down to the base of Mooney Falls.
Thinking back to this tragic incident, one can only conclude that Mooney’s fall and (later) his friends’ attempts to retrieve him, resulted in the only safe descent into the base of Mooney Falls.
How to Access Mooney Falls
Mooney Falls is the most difficult descent of all the Havasupai waterfalls. Theoretically, the idea is to crawl through two tunnels and then use either the chains, ladders, or steps carved into the stone to descend the rest of the way. Practically, the idea is to tame your fear of heights and proceed with each step as cautiously as possible.
Deaths at Mooney falls are extremely rare, the only fall having occurred before a trail was established.