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Contact: Joëlle Baird, 928-606-3154
On May 21 at approximately 9 p.m., the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a report of an unresponsive hiker on the Bright Angel Trail above the Three-Mile Resthouse.
National Park Service (NPS) emergency services personnel responded down trail and soon thereafter the hiker became pulseless. All attempts to resuscitate the individual were unsuccessful. The victim has been identified as a 36-year-old female from Westfield, Indiana who was attempting a hike to the Colorado River and back in one day.
Park Rangers at Grand Canyon National Park strongly urge visitors, especially inner canyon hikers and backpackers to be prepared for excessively hot days in the coming weeks. In the summer months, temperatures on exposed parts of the trail can reach over 120°F (49 °C) in the shade. Park rangers do not advise hiking in the inner canyon between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. as most heat-related illnesses are from hikers on trail between these hours. The NPS does not recommend hiking from the rim to the river and back in one day.
Hiking in extreme heat can lead to serious health risks including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hyponatremia (a life threatening electrolyte imbalance from drinking too much water and not consuming enough salt), and death. Be aware that NPS efforts to assist hikers may be delayed during the summer months due to limited staff, the number of rescue calls, employee safety requirements, and limited helicopter flying capability during periods of extreme heat or inclement weather.
Park staff remind visitors that there are ways to safely hike below the rim, for those who are prepared, well-acclimated to the climate and elevation, have the appropriate gear, and who have prior experience hiking in steep, desert terrain. Important tips for a successful hike include the following: balancing food, electrolyte, and water intake; drinking when thirsty; getting wet to stay cool; and stopping hiking if you start to feel ill.
Visitors should evaluate their level of experience and plan accordingly. For more information on hiking in the summer months in Grand Canyon, visit: Hiking Tips - Hike Smart - Grand Canyon National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the NPS in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner. No additional information is available at this time.
Last updated: January 11, 2024