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Man Fined, Banned From Grand Canyon National Park, For Guiding Without A Permit


A man who was guiding backpack trips in Grand Canyon National Park without a permit has been fined and banned from visiting the park for a year.

Brian Thompson, 42, of Cottonwood, Arizona, also was banned from running any guiding trips, paid or unpaid, in national parks or national forests for a year, according to a park release.

The man was arrested on August 31 after he received payment to guide a multi-day backpacking trip into the canyon, the release said.

On September 12 Mr. Thompson appeared in the U.S. District Court of Arizona and pleaded guilty to violating Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 5.3, Engaging in Business without a Permit.

As a result, he was ordered to pay a $200 fine and was sentenced to a one year term of probation, during which time he is banned from Grand Canyon National Park, cannot provide tours or guiding services (paid or unpaid) in any national park or national forest, and cannot advertise that he conducts tours or guiding services in national forests or national parks.


What is "guiding" under the NPS rules and what is not? A family going hiking under the guidance of one adult, who knows the park, obviously is not. A group of close friends going with one of them making all the arangements for accomodation, choosing the route and what ever probably is not guiding as well.

But how about some more loosely connected people that share some common connection but don't necessarily know all of the others? With one of them choosing the route, organising transport, giving out a list of necessary equipment beforehand and doing the classical "guiding" on the trail with explaining about nature, talking history, making sure, no one stays behind and gets lost and carries a small emergency kit? Is such an outing of say some members of a group or association already illegal guiding?


I believe it comes down to the fact that the individual received payment to be a guide. You need to have a permit if you are providing this type of service (as a business, for a fee) in a park. Being a guide is one thing; requiring people to pay for the service is another.



Thank God the authorities have made the parks safe from this fiend and his nefarious activities. We can all breathe more easily knowing that the guiding threat has been neutralized.


The NPS requirement that anyone conducting a buisness, and yes charging people to take them hiking in a National Park is a buisness, is no different than your local municipality requiring buisness permits. The permit's require that the individividuals have things like insurance, proper training and experience. For this type of activity probably even some form of EMS training. Other wise if and when these folks making money off the parks screw up and one of their clients gets hurt or even dies, you the tax payer ends up covering the bills for their messes.

Hi, Old Ranger,

What you say makes sense. I sometimes allow myself to get carried away with my sarcasm. I think I was overreacting to what I perceive as excessive NPS regulation of many things. But I was overreacting, and you're right to have politely suggested as much.

imtubke, nice response to the Old Ranger. I must agree with the old ranger and appreciate your open mind on the issue. I had much experience with this issue, well that certainly does not make me expert, but I can tell you that the vast majority of park rangers work very hard to limit restrictions. Sometimes they are necessary, as in this case, and often times they are law or policy of the congress or agency. I have my moments, like yourself, when I question some regulations, but on balance there is a real effort to be low key and responsive to the park visitors. Always read your posts and am now convinced you do try to look at both sides of issues.

Ron Mackie: A bit off topic With your sense of things I wondered if you might take a look at the principals and the process that ended with the reduction of over 75% of the Inner Grand Canyon Mule Rides that were so transformational for so many. You are one of the few I could expect that would deliver something other than the party line. I have had so many people, of all ages, that had life changing experiences of discovery on these rides that I feel the topic needs proper analysis. I just have a sense that you might be the one.


Or better yet you could decline to beat that dead, horse here and leave keeper to his seething.

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