Temperatures in the inner canyon on June 24 registered as high as 114 degrees.

Woman Dies Hiking Grand Canyon: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe in the Heat
Thomas J. Story

A California woman died June 24 while hiking to spend the night at Grand Canyon National Park’s Phantom Ranch.

Catherine Houe, 49, was about four miles and a descent of 3,390 feet into the hike when she began appearing disoriented and unsteady. She stopped breathing a short time later, her husband told the National Park Service.

CPR was attempted before medical personnel were dispatched via helicopter from the South Rim. Paramedics arrived a little after 5:30 p.m. in the vicinity of the Tip Off rest house on the South Kaibab Trail to find the Daly City resident unresponsive, NPS officials announced.

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The National Park Service and Coconino County Medical Examiner’s office are conducting an investigation into the incident to determine the cause of death, but officials believe it to be heat-related. Temperatures in the inner canyon on June 24 registered as high as 114 degrees.

“National Park Rangers at Grand Canyon National Park are strongly urging visitors to Grand Canyon, especially inner canyon hikers and backpackers to be prepared for excessively hot days in the coming weeks,” an NPS statement read.

“In the summer, temperatures on exposed parts of the trail can reach over 120° F (49° C) in the shade. Hiking in extreme heat can lead to serious health risks including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hyponatremia, and death.”

Temperatures in GCNP’s inner canyon average a high of over 100 degrees during the summer months, a trend that prompts park officials to advise against any hiking activity between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Little water is available in the canyon, so it’s important to bring plenty with you. Being prepared with serious boots (see our picks for men and women) and gear can make a huge difference, too.

“Fluid/electrolyte loss can exceed 2 quarts per hour if you hike uphill in direct sunlight and during the hottest time of the day,” the park’s website states. “Because inner canyon air is so dry and hot, sweat evaporates instantly, making its loss almost imperceptible.”

Additional tips for safe hiking in the park’s extreme conditions are available through the NPS page.