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Body, Presumed To Be That Of Missing Backpacker, Found in Grand Canyon National Park


The lure of a remote, and surprising lush, area of Grand Canyon National Park has led to the death of a 20-year-old backpacker. Photo of a section of the Deer Creek area by Conor Watkins And J. David Rogers, Missouri University of Science and Technology.

A body, believed to be that of a missing 20-year-old backpacker, was found Saturday in a rugged section of Grand Canyon National Park. Rangers came across the body, thought to be that of Bryce Gillies, about 9:30 a.m. in the Bonita Creek drainage on the North Rim of the park.

Mr. Gillies, a Northern Arizona University student, was reported missing by his father last Tuesday evening after failing to return from a trip into the Deer Creek drainage. Initial efforts by investigators located the car of the backpacker at the Bill Hall Trailhead on the North Rim.

With no backcountry permit to work from and no knowledge of Mr. Gillies' specific plans, searchers began covering a large area from the Deer Creek drainage across Surprise Valley to the Tapeats Creek drainage and down to the river. On Saturday rescue personnel narrowed their search to the Bonita Creek drainage and surrounding area based on the discovery of personal items, including a backpack, in that vicinity.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., a search team, moving up Bonita Creek from its confluence with the Colorado River, found a body at the top of a 100-foot pour-off. The body was located less than one-half mile from the river confluence. It was to be recovered by helicopter via long-line operation and transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner.

This multi-day search involved approximately 50 NPS personnel and volunteers from Grand Canyon National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Zion National Park.

The Deer Creek area can be extremely demanding to reach, but those who make the trek find "booming streams of crystalline water (that) emerge from mysterious caves to transform the harsh desert of the inner canyon into absurdly beautiful green oasis replete with the music of falling water and cool pools," according to the park's description of the area. However, the park also notes that "trailhead access can be difficult, sometimes impossible, and the approach march is long, hot and dry...but for those making the journey these destinations represent something close to canyon perfection."


Too bad. Hard to tell what led to his death, although rough terrain and weather may have played a part.

Hi Kurt, I have mixed feelings about this. i am so sorry a father lost his son, i can't imagine losing one of my kids. wasn't he required to have a backcountry permit? who oversees these things, that somebody might be going on a potentially dangerous hike without other people? i for one am not happy about the thousands, perhaps millions of dollars that have been spent just this year on people doing things that ended up in loss of life. i really don't think the public should foot the bill for this. there has got to be another way. if nps had to post people at trailheads, might take care of some of these things or deny access altogether. it's sad these thing happen, but there has to be a better way.

I am so sorry for the family. Since I have signed up to receive the national park traveler news, I see that there are so many dangers in the parks. Everyone should go with a group and follow the rangers advice as to what to take with them.


Common sense would be a good thing for anybody to take, in short supply these days. i understand some people might not agree with me, but at some point you need to be responsible for your own actions. after thinking this over i would post signs at all trailheads saying if you do not have a permit or have not notified nps of your plans, we will not look for you.


If you smoke in bed and set fire to your house do the firemen have the right to not put out the fire because you were careless? Should we have groups of firemen knocking on doors whenever they want to see if you’re smoking in bed? The tax dollars collected from me and not used to put out any fires at my house should be returned?

You’re talking about taking away freedoms in an era of government intervention into everything, doesn’t work, neither does the pay for rescue idea, those costs have already been paid for by tax dollars.

Just imagine going to a park and being told you look to stupid to hike and it would be too expensive to rescue you if you do.

My condolances to his family. This is the very reason that back country permits are required. It also is a reason that you should never hike in the back country alone. One of the problems with this country is that no one seems to be responsible for their own actions. If you disobey the rules and no not use common sense, then you are responsible- no one else, period. We cannot expect NPS to be responsible for everything. They make reasonable rules, many that I personally disagree with, for the safety of citizens and long term benefit of our national lands. The bottom line is that you are still responsible to obey the rules and use common sense.

I have a hard time finding anything in your comment that has anything to do with what i said. i DO NOT want to take away anybodys freedoms. i just don't want to pay for foolish actions of others. if you don't agree with that,fine. write nps a check. you are talking about taking away my freedom to keep my money and not have it wasted.

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