Parking at the Hualapai Hilltop
Hualapai Hilltop is the official name for the parking lot at the trailhead that leads down to Havasu Falls.
The parking lot itself is surprisingly big for being where it is but do note that you could be doing a little bit of pre-trail hiking to get from your car to the trail. The parking lot is big but not in a Walmart sort of way but more of a long and stretched out big as seen in the satellite image below.
There are a couple of pockets where you can park cars in the middle of the lot, but for the most part, you’re going to be parking on the side of the road. Because most of the parking at Hualapai Hilltop is on the side of the road, you should be ready to have to parallel park if the other spots are taken.
As shown in the satellite picture above, the road in and out is very narrow. Those trying to drive in with RV’s should try to find another vehicle due to parking not being available for something that big as at times it can be hard for a regular size car to maneuver around the parking lot.
Staying the Night in the Parking Lot
For those who want to stay the night before the big hike, you are able to sleep in your car in order to try and leave early before the sun rises. If you are looking for a solid night’s sleep it may not happen as I know hikers who have stated that it can be a bit bright from headlights and noisy from about 2 AM on as people arrive for the hike down.
If you do what we did and arrive at the parking lot around three in the morning, be aware that some cars may have people sleeping in them so try to keep the noise to a minimum.
If possible you may want to park away from the wall since the parking lot is located next to a giant rock wall and there is the possibility of a piece breaking off, or having a stray rock fall from the top from animals or high winds, and hitting your car.
On the way to the parking lot, wild animals and even livestock have been known to stand in the middle of the road. Driving in the day, this issue is easy to avoid but at night, the animals become much harder to see so be sure to pay attention to everything even though it seems like an easy road to drive on.
Because the parking lot is located on a cliff, there will be verticle drops on one side of the road. When you drive in, the massive rock wall will be to your right but on the way out, it’s a straight down drop.
The only real time I can see this being an issue is at night or when the roads become slick. There are guard rails to try and prevent accidents and they do a good job maintaining that road, just be sure to drive smart and don’t push it because things do happen.
Parking and Driving During Winter Months
During the warm months, I don’t really see a need for a 4×4 vehicle as mine did just fine, but if you’re going when it’s snowing, I would highly recommend it. If the snow and ice get bad to a certain point, the road will be shut down until it can be safely driven on.
The road is two lanes wide and can have inclines and declines at times, so the last thing you want to do is start slipping on the way in or out. If you don’t have access to a 4×4 or all-wheel drive vehicle, snow chains should work just fine. Just be smart about it, plain and simple. You know what your car can handle so make sure to look at the weather before you leave to help you plan accordingly.
Parking Lot Amenities
Besides knowing how the parking lot is laid out, there are a couple of things at the top you should know about.
First, there is a bathroom at the top next to the trailhead. It is a single male and female bathroom but it is outhouse styled so there isn’t running water. If you want to hit a “real toilet” before you start the hike down, be prepared you may need to have your own toiletries as there may not be bathroom tissue early in the morning.
Second is that the parking lot is located right next to the helicopter pad that carries hikers and villagers down to the village. If your plan is to take the helicopter from the village to the parking lot, you may want to park closer to the helipad.
The last and most important thing about parking at the Hualapai Hilltop is that it’s free. There have been some saying that it costs to park there but from my own experience as well as others who have gone at different times, you won’t have to pay to park.
Questions? Comment below.