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Wed, Aug. 12

Guest Column: Safety in Grand Canyon National Park is everyone’s business

By Steve Cundy

The Wildland Trekking Company

Deaths in Grand Canyon National Park aren’t uncommon.

In fact, the few so far this year, while horribly tragic for the families of those lost and the teams charged with their recovery, only suggest that one of our greatest American assets is on track for an “average” year of tragedy.

But even an average year shouldn’t be consider normal, or acceptable.

As one of the park’s few vendors allowed to hike and camp with guests deep in the Canyon’s corridor trails and remote corners, the entire team at The Wildland Trekking Company believes that everyone can do more, because safety in the Grand Canyon is everyone’s business.

We strongly encourage all visitors to strictly follow park regulations and be aware of all physical and environmental risks associated with America’s Best Idea. The park’s Rangers can only do so much with the resources provided and faced with an ever-increasing number of people entering the gates.

With close to 7 million visitors expected again this year, staying on top of safety measures is no easy feat, and may seem Sisyphean at times, but it shouldn’t be as challenging as we park users many often make it.

Permitted in the park for 12 years, Wildland Trekking works tirelessly to educate guests, demonstrate Leave No Trace, and keep its clients safe and healthy throughout a trip.

However, guests of professional guides aren’t the only ones enjoying the park’s stunning landscapes. Families, hikers, and rafters come from around the world to experience what this rock and water-wonder has to offer.

It may not be written as rule, but it’s as up to individual visitors as it is to professional guides to encourage smart, safe use of the Grand Canyon’s trails, overlooks, and scenic inspirations.

Thus, when visiting Grand Canyon National Park this summer, abide by these few simple rules:

  1. Hike early in the day, rest in the shade

  2. Eat and drink every few minutes

  3. Don’t attempt to visit the Colorado River without overnight permits

  4. Let someone know where you’re going

  5. Listen and obey park signage and Ranger suggestions

  6. If in trouble, dial 911, stay in place

  7. Understand Leave No Trace principles at

Park-provided literature and signage heavily stresses safety in and around the park’s trails and vistas.

Public records show that the Park experienced 17 visitor fatalities last year.

While not every death is attributed directly to an issue with the park or its natural surroundings, people should consider their own state of health before leaving the readily available resources of either the North or South Rims.

The cliffs are only a small part of the issue. The primary risk is the heat, and far too many people venturing deep into the canyon with little experience or supplies.

Lastly, more people are making the news at the expense of digital peer pressure, or the desire to capture the ideal shot for social media.

Wildland Trekking encourages guests to consider how easy it is to capture an amazing photo of the Grand Canyon without risking injury, or worse. For example, simply visit Hopi Point at sunset, hike to Cedar Mesa at dawn, or look for elk grazing along the walk to Yaki Point.

By all means, share your experience, the beauty we have in our park system is unparalleled.

But those moments will be that much richer when you’re able to share them in person.

Let’s all have a great, memory-making 2019 in the Grand Canyon.

In fact, let’s shoot for making it … below average.

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