Update on Search for Missing Backpackers

photo of Bryce Gillies
Bryce Gillies, overdue from backpacking trip in Grand Canyon National Park

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News Release Date: July 23, 2009

Contact: Shannan Marcak, 928-638-7958

Grand Canyon, Ariz. – Grand Canyon National Park search and rescue personnel are intensifying their search efforts as they re-asses who they are looking for.

On the evening of Tuesday, July 21, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a report that at least one, and possibly as many as three young men were overdue from a backpacking trip to the Deer Creek/Thunder River area of Grand Canyon National Park.  On Wednesday, Park Rangers found the car of Bryce Gillies, a student at Northern Arizona University (NAU), parked at the Bill Hall Trailhead which is located about half way between Tuweep and the developed area on the North Rim of the park. 

Initial investigations included aerial passes over the trails and major drainages in the area, contacting river trips and other backpackers on the trail, and contacting Mr. Gillies friends and acquaintances to gather more information.  Based on the information initially received during these investigations, concerns grew that there might be as many as four individuals in the party of missing men.  However, investigators have now contacted most of the friends it was feared might be with him, and have concluded that Bryce Gillies most likely came to the park alone.

Bryce is 20 years old and is described as 5 feet 3 inches tall and 130 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.  He left for his trip into the canyon on Saturday, July 18, and left word that he would return on Monday, July 20.  On Tuesday, July 21, when Mr. Gillies still had not returned, he was reported overdue.

Search and rescue efforts are now focused on locating a lone male backpacker in the Deer Creek/Thunder River area.  One ground search team was inserted yesterday evening to begin a more thorough search of the area and two additional ground search teams are being inserted today.  In addition, a helicopter will once again be searching aerially as weather permits.  Additional rangers from Zion National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area are being brought in to assist with search efforts.

Anyone who believes they have seen Mr. Gillies since Saturday, July 18, is encouraged to contact the National Park Service at 928-638-7805.


Last updated: December 28, 2017

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