National Park Service approves temporary mule rides on South Rim of Grand Canyon
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - The National Park Service (NPS) recently authorized its concessioner, Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C. (Xanterra), a temporary opportunity to conduct mule rides from the South Rim Village to the Abyss on the West Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
This temporary opportunity was developed to accommodate some of the commercial mule traffic that was diverted from the park's popular South Kaibab Trail while the trail is undergoing reconstruction.
Xanterra's overnight mule trips to Phantom Ranch, private stock use, and pack mules used by both Xanterra and the NPS will continue to utilize the Bright Angel Trail during reconstruction efforts on the South Kaibab Trail.
Prior to the start of the South Kaibab reconstruction project, all of Xanterra's overnight mule trips to Phantom Ranch departed on the Bright Angel Trail and returned on the South Kaibab Trail. Currently those trips are departing and returning on the Bright Angel Trail. Grand Canyon National Park's 1995 General Management Plan allows Xanterra 60 mule passes (not including guide mules) on the Bright Angel Trail and 20 mule passes on the South Kaibab Trail each day. The temporary rim ride will allow Xanterra to continue their overnight mule trips to Phantom Ranch without exceeding their daily limit on the Bright Angel Trail.
The NPS is currently in the process of completing an environmental assessment for all stock use including concessioner operated mule rides within Grand Canyon National Park. The environmental assessment and associated decision document will be the basis for future mule and stock use within the park.
The environmental assessment is expected to be completed later this year. Once completed, the NPS will hold public meetings to provide information, answer questions, and take comments on stock use in the park. The public can look for future news releases on this and other planning initiatives at www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/newsreleases.htm.
For further information on the environmental assessment, please contact Rachel Stanton, Project Planning Lead at (928) 774-9612. For additional information on authorization to conduct the above rim ride, please contact Maureen Oltrogge, Public Affairs Officer at (928) 638-7779.