Grand Canyon officials mobilize for extreme heat ahead of near-record temperatures
As much of the western U.S. endures a major heat wave, officials at Grand Canyon National Park are urging visitors to prepare for extreme temperatures this weekend.
Phantom Ranch typically hits 120 degrees a few days each year. It’s the highest recorded temperature there and on Sunday a high of 119 is expected. The park has been spreading the word online, at entrance stations and at backcountry and visitor centers that those venturing out in the heat should know the risks.
"If you are going to be exerting yourself during these excessive heat warnings that you really have to be acclimated both to the heat and in good physical condition before you even step foot on the trail," says Joelle Baird, a former Grand Canyon backcountry ranger and spokesperson for the park.
The park has posted QR codes at trailheads that link to weather information and cooling tips. And a team of preventative search and rescue rangers has been working to preempt emergencies. But officials say people are still attempting risky hikes in triple-digit temperatures as rangers themselves often battle heat-related illness.
The park advises against hiking the inner canyon between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and suggests people who do head out should focus on staying hydrated and cooling off in the shade during the hottest parts of the day.
An excessive heat warning has been in effect for the last two weeks at the canyon. Baird says in previous decades the warnings would typically last a day or two, but in recent years their duration has steadily grown longer.
Earlier this month a 57-year-old woman died from heat-related causes while attempting an eight-mile hike in the remote Tuweep area of the park. It’s the only such death reported at the Grand Canyon this year.