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How Many People Have Fallen Into the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon steals the breath of millions of visitors every year. It’s no wonder that this massive canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The view from the canyon’s rim is almost too good to be real. However, stay away from the edge and watch your step while enjoying the view.

A fall in Grand Canyon National Park can be tragic, and the canyon has seen many unintentional and intentional deaths over the decades. So how many people have fallen into the Grand Canyon?

Today, we’ll take a closer look at the many dangers to visitors in the Grand Canyon. Let’s see how you can stay safe while visiting.

About the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon sits in northwestern Arizona and reaches 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and over a mile deep. While geologists debate some aspects of the canyon formation, it’s a fact that the Colorado River played a major role over millions of years. The canyon isn’t the deepest in the world, but the vast differences in color throughout the landscape still provide incredible views.

The canyon has been home to Native Americans for thousands of years. Many local tribes still call portions of the canyon and surrounding area home. However, when Theodore Roosevelt visited in 1903, the federal government began protecting a large part of the canyon. In 1906, the government formed the Grand Canyon Game Preserve.

It then upgraded to a national monument in 1908 and again in 1919 when it became a national park.

The Grand Canyon attracts millions of visitors yearly. In a typical year, 17% of the guests are foreign visitors. While the South Rim of the canyon remains open year-round, the North Rim is typically open from mid-May to mid-October. However, you can enjoy the inspiring views at any time of year.

Kid laying on the edge of the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is an iconic site, but it is important to stay safe while exploring it.

Why Is the Grand Canyon Famous?

The Grand Canyon has become an iconic tourist destination and a bucket list location for many adventurers. Seeing the results of hundreds of millions of years of erosion gives visitors a glimpse into the immense power of mother nature. 

The vast open landscapes are unlike any other place. Visitors can spread out and enjoy themselves. The Grand Canyon is a popular spot for once-in-a-lifetime family road trips and can be a great way for families to make priceless memories.

Pro Tip: Be safe and stay back from the edge while checking out these 9 Most Beautiful Areas of the Grand Canyon.

Can You Hike the Grand Canyon?

You have many options for hiking in the Grand Canyon. However, the National Park Service warns, “There are no easy trails into or out of the Grand Canyon.” The NPS conducts more than 250 rescues of ill-prepared hikers each year. Hikers bite off more than they can chew by overestimating their abilities and underestimating the canyon’s difficulty. This can lead to accidents, emergencies, or falls in the Grand Canyon.

The South and North Rim have several hikes; however, always go prepared. Many of these trails are very steep and challenging. But Rim Trail is paved and handicap accessible in most areas.

Can You Go to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon?

Those looking for a more challenging experience can hike to the bottom of the canyon. However, this hike is not for beginners or those not in good physical shape. The 6.3-mile trail to the bottom of the Grand Canyon typically takes five hours. However, you can’t forget that you’ll also have to hike out of the canyon to end your adventure.

The suggested route is to take South Kaibab Trail to the bottom and climb out by following Bright Angel Trail. Hikers descend and climb 4,000+ feet during the hike, and water availability can be scarce. If you plan to tackle this route, prepare and acquire the necessary permits.

Man sitting over the ledge in the Grand Canyon
Each year approximately twelve people fall over the edge of the famous Grand Canyon cliffs.

How Many People Fall Into the Grand Canyon?

Each year approximately 12 people die at the Grand Canyon. Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers wrote their 2001 book Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon and updated it in 2012 due to its popularity. They share stories of all the known deaths in the Grand Canyon. 

Because of the vastness of the canyon and the number of suicides, it’s hard to determine the exact number of people who have fallen into the Grand Canyon. However, it’s fair to say that some visitors fall to their deaths unintentionally.

They simply got too close to the ledge or lost footing while trying to take a picture. No matter how many likes a picture may get, it’s not worth risking your life.

Pro Tip: Make sure to avoid these Don’ts of Grand Canyon RV Camping.

How Many Fall Deaths Occur at the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon averages 12 deaths per year, two or three of which come from falls. During a single week in 2019, the park saw three visitors fall to their deaths. As a result, Grand Canyon National Park beefed up patrols around the most popular areas and reminded visitors to keep their distance from the edge of the rim.

However, they can only do so much. It’s up to visitors to take responsibility and do their part to avoid putting themselves in a dangerous situation.

More than 800 known deaths have occurred in the canyon, many resulting from airplane or helicopter crashes, falls, environmental factors, and drowning. The Grand Canyon can be a very dangerous place to visit, so make sure you go prepared.

Man standing on the edge of a cliff in the Grand Canyon
Be cautious not to stand too close to the edge of a cliff while in the Grand Canyon.

What Dangers Are in the Grand Canyon?

Despite the National Park Service doing all it can to protect visitors, there’s no way for them to make it completely safe. Visitors must take responsibility when it comes to protecting themselves to avoid falling in the Grand Canyon.

The extreme summer temperatures and immense elevation changes can surprise many hikers and visitors to the canyon. It can be very dangerous if unprepared physically or with the proper supplies. If you want to tackle one of the hikes, plan your trip during one of the cooler months and do plenty of training before.

Elevation changes and heat cause dangerous conditions, but also be aware of the wildlife. The Grand Canyon is home to a couple of dangerous reptiles and insects. It’s not uncommon for visitors to catch a glimpse of a venomous rattlesnake or a scorpion. A bite or sting from either of these can quickly cause an emergency that requires rescue. 

What Is the Best Month to Go to the Grand Canyon?

The best month to visit the Grand Canyon is between April and June. However, the summer temperatures can quickly reach over 100 degrees most days.

The park welcomes millions of visitors annually, many of which visit in the summer. However, if you go at the end of spring and the beginning of summer, you’ll experience great weather and fewer crowds.

If you want to hike, September and October are typically the best months. You’ll have lower temperatures and fewer crowds. This can allow you to enjoy the hike without worrying about heat exhaustion or noisy hikers along the trails.

Is the Grand Canyon Safe? 

The Grand Canyon, like any wilderness location, can be very dangerous. It has many cliffs and dangerous landscapes. However, if you take the proper precautions, you can still visit the Grand Canyon safely. Watch your step and keep your distance from the edge of the rim.

An accidental slip in the gravel or tripping along the ledge could result in a tragedy. The view from the edge doesn’t change much by staying several feet back. We promise you it’s not worth the risk of falling in the Grand Canyon.

You can have a beautiful, awe-inspiring visit when using common sense and proper preparation. So when will you visit?

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