Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Steve Martin Hanging Up His Hat

After 35 years with the National Park Service, most recently as Grand Canyon superintendent, Steve Martin has decided to retire. NPS handout.

After 35 years with the National Park Service, Steve Martin has decided it's time to hang up his Stetson. The superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park has announced that he'll retire as of January 1.

Mr. Martin's departure opens one of the most-sought superintendencies in the National Park System and closes the career of a man who started out as a ranger and worked his way just about to the very top of the National Park Service. Not too surprisingly, along the way from his first job at the Grand Canyon as a backcountry river ranger to his current position -- with a stint as deputy director of the Park Service and a few superintendent roles in between -- he gathered some controversy.

Some inside the Park Service associate Mr. Martin with the "core ops" budgeting approach wielded by the Intermountain Region, one that many saw as merely a tool to cut both unwanted programs and personnel. Others questioned his appointment of his wife to a newly created "Group Superintendent" role within the region overseeing three other park superintendents.

During Mr. Martin's stint as regional director a case arose around Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in which the Indian trader was accused -- wrongly, it turned out -- of embezzling from the trading post. After a lengthy, and costly, series of investigations, including one by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General, Park Service officials determined that Intermountain Region investigators and managers who looked into the business operations at Hubbell Trading exhibited "poor case management" and "poor judgment and performance."

Neither Mr. Martin nor his deputy at the time, Mike Snyder, ever responded to inquiries from the Traveler about how they handled that investigation. (It has now been two years since the Traveler filed a Freedom of Information request with the Interior Department requesting its investigative reports into the matter and not a single page has been turned over.)

A lawsuit filed by the Indian trader, Billy Malone, included both Mr. Martin and Mr. Snyder as defendants, accusing them of misconduct and wrongful seizure of property belonging to Mr. Malone. A judge later removed the Park Service officials from the matter, saying he didn't think a case could be built against them.

Mr. Martin's career included stops as superintendent of Grand Teton, Denali and Gates of Arctic national parks, various roles in Yellowstone and Voyageurs national parks, as well as in the agency's Intermountain Regional Office in Denver where he served as regional director from September 2003 to April 2005, when he moved to Washington, D.C., to serve as deputy director. Two years later he returned to the field as Grand Canyon superintendent.

At Gates of the Arctic, he worked with Alaska Natives on cooperative conservation involving subsistence, wilderness and resource protection, and eco-tourism, according to a Park Service release.

As Grand Canyon superintendent, Mr. Martin advocated for high-flow releases of Lake Powell through the Glen Canyon Dam so that they might revitalize the Colorado River corridor through the park.

“Living and working in some of the most beautiful places on earth, with some of the best people in the world, has been a great privilege and adventure—for me and our family," Mr. Martin said in a prepared statement. "We have great memories of places and people and now look forward to spending more time out and about in national parks and protected places around the world.”


This is a really crappy write up to summarize a 35 year career with the NPS. I am deeply disappointed to read garbage like this.
There is no mention of all that Steve Martin accomplished in his career and especially in his four years at Grand Canyon National Park.
Very disappointing!

Stop whining and calling it "crappy". Actions and example speak louder than any write up. Martin is lucky he and his wife were not idicted for their ethical and other wrong doings including official travel often conveniently rigged to be done together at taxpayer expense. Free ride for a very long time with special exceptions and considerations that none of the rest of the NPS workforce received nor should the NPS workforce receive. We hope Mrs. Martin will soon follow her husband's example and choose retirement. Her career exists essentially because of her husband's power to force the hand of previous officials in the NPS and DOI. Her enabling safety net is about to be pulled out for good with Martin's retirement on January 1. A new year and a new day for the NPS with this turn of events. Happy Retirement Superintendent Martin!

I suppose his proudest accomplishment is the destruction of the mule rides. People who have been in the GC park for 20-30 years know all about Mr. Stevie, and his wife. Must be nice to be able to CREATE a position and put your spouse into it! His excuses for getting rid of the mules were pure B.S.

Good riddance, I say.

Editor's note: No decision has been made on the ongoing stock use -- both mules and horses -- of the canyon trails. Indeed, on the South Rim stock use continues to be allowed year-round.

For the last five years, I have had the opportunity to work with both of the Martins in an official capacity. During that time, I found them both to be two of the most capable civil servants I've had the honor to work with. To say that Mrs. Martin is unqualified to serve in her present role is unfair and untrue. On NAGPRA work, she is one of a handful of authorities I would turn to in order to get edification. As a park manager, she has done a tremendous job of working with the tribes as well as reaching out to her local partners. She is an extremely capable and qualified civil servant who earned the position she currently serves in. If you have real facts, state them - but don't just libel someone without justification.

As far as Mr. Martin, whether you like him personally or not, I think you would be hard pressed to find evidence that he has not been effective as a park manager. During his tenure, he pushed hard and got new housing for park staff; completed long drawn out projects that should have been finished a decade ago (park roads, bike rental program, update the VC and HQ, the new entrance station at the watchtower, and the trail of time); and gained the support and loyalty of park staff as well as park neighbors and partners. He could often be abrasive and lack tact, but he got the job done and worked in ways that were in the best interest of the park staff, the park, and its visitors.

We are grateful for the incredible job that both Martins have done and with them good luck in the next chapter of their life.

I agree with the last 'Anonomous' comment about the quality and intelligence of Ms. Martin. She is bright and imaginative, energetic, and excellent to work with.

I also believe the federal government should foster dual career employment, of married couples. There was a time many years ago that the NPS seemed to ignore the need of spouses to work. Because it is critical that NPS people be moved around, and not go stagnant or become 'clientists' at one assignment for year after year, some provision must be made to permit both parties to seek NPS employment, particularly in remote jobs.

Steve Martin is a good example of best of the traditional park ranger ethic. He clearly believes in the Mission of the Service, and like many other dedicated employees, helped parks and park people in an honest and straightforward if old fashioned way. Several times when worthy initiatives were threatened by the bean-counters or politically motivated colleagues, i have seen him intervene in a gentle way to make the problem go away, without kicking up dust. Personally, I never found him either abrasive or tactless. He seemed to me pretty sincere and straightforward. I found him to be very free of ego. You could challenge his ideas directly, and he did not take your head off; he seemed to me to want to listen. Like many of the best park people with green blood, I think Steve Martin has not always been prepared for the political times in which we live. Many of the most loyal and most conscientious park rangers are not.

Maybe that is to his credit. Maybe someone as deputy director more capable of defanging the forces opposed to the NPS -- in the Bush Administration, in the OMB and in the Congress -- would have been crushed anyway. My sense is that very few of the senior NPS people are devoted to politics, or possess political gifts. Except perhaps, for the Byzantine Budget Office who's priorities and power base seem to have little to do with the needs of the Serviice or System. It seems to me in the face of impossible odds, Mr. Martin was as conscientious and effective as he possibly could. He made things better than they would have been without him.

I know nothing about any role Mr. Martin may have played personally in the Hubble issue, nor have complete confidence in the insight or balance of investigations by the IG or GAO. Or, if he had any role delaying the release of Freedom of Information requests, or intransigence by the NPS or the lawyers.

So what are the particulars of his and his wife's golden parachute or is Mrs. Martin going to take over the Grand Canyon Superintendent's position?
As far as the South Rim originating Inner Canyon Mule Rides, he reduced them by 75%. No affordable day ride to Plateau Point while only ten riders can go to Phantom per day. All the while the mule packers continue to haul duffels for hikers and supplies for hikers, Phantom Ranch and NPS Rangers alike. It was a shot at the concessionaire with NO consideration for the public. Many of which are disabled that could not possibly experience the transformational ride which is equally awesome for the not physically challenged. Never in any discussion with Martin or any that were representing his proposals did I here a word of true respect for what has been a 103 year old iconic tradition with NO rider fatalities in ALL THOSE YEARS while, on average, 30 visitors assume room temperature(mostly hikers, rafters and others). ... Seems more than coincidental that they are holding the Stock Use EA from being released until just before he retires or after so he won't have to deal with it after a very contentious and questionable process.

Editor's note: In June 1951 a concessionaire mule skinner, who was riding double with another man, died when he and the mule were crowded off the Bright Angel Trail and fell. The man was killed instantly when the mule landed on top of him.

Stock use has been reduced by 75% below the rim ... at least the rides. Carrying all supplies in and out of Phantom for the hikers and 10 mule riders per day is still done by mule. Stock use on the S Rim used to be 40 riders to the bottom, and 10-20 (someone correct me) for day rides to Plateau Point.

Day rides below the rim have been eliminated, and replaced with a crappy 3 hour ride through the pine forest to the Abyss.

Overnight rides below the rim have been reduced to 10.

The final plan is just waiting for the signature of Steve's boss ... sitting on his desk for going on 2 months.

to editor: "No rider fatalities" means no GUEST riders. And in 103 years only one employee death. The mule rides are the most SAFE way for everyone to see the canyon.

Can't say the same for those mighty hikers, now, can we? How many hikers have been rescued and/or assisted by mules and the wranglers?

The release of information under the FOIA under Martin has been either refused, delayed to a time that would make it noneffective or denied that a documented event even happened. I guess that's what one learns after 2 years in Washington, transparency.
There is MUCH that will come out with the motivation being being to correct what has been a flawed and personally driven effort to diminish the mules presence at the Canyon as much as possible with the concessionaire's (hotel management corp.) quiet support. This could and should be turned around to represent what MANY have voiced to me that, "This Canyon AND This Ride IS THE BEST ON THE PLANET."
For those so emotional about this issue, I suggest stepping back and prepare for an extended effort. Remember it's taken Superintendent Martin two years of "PROCESS" to put his preferences into effect. With the new Congress being seated in January and all funding for NPS goes through the House there could be increased scrutiny over efforts such as this one.
I have said many times to my riders and hikers alike, "there is nothing that can't be solved by having the people involved to ride mules into the Grand Canyon. Putting trust in something other than yourself (Mules) and the humbling effects of the Canyon just put people in a place that "it's not about themselves and are able to see things in a new perspective." Rock On Mules and the Grand Canyon!

Don't let the door hit you in the backside on the way out. Would have been better if you had more closely followed your buddy Snyder out that door.

Signed, an employee with two unfortunate expereiences working under Martin's reign in thirteen years.

Disabled persons cannot ride the mules. Xanterra States:

"• Each Phantom Ranch overnight rider must not weigh more than 200 lbs. (91k), fully dressed
• Each rider must be in good physical condition. No rider may be pregnant. A mule trip is physically rigorous. Riding requires both upper and lower body strength and good overall muscular condition. Back and knee strain emerge after just a short time in the saddle. Riders with heart or respiratory problems should carefully consider the rigors they will encounter. "

Also, mule riders HAVE been rescued for injuries and heat exhaustion. Mules can't as a rule be used to rescue injured hikers: the rescuee has to be able to sit on the mule. If they are able to sit on the mule, they can probably walk.

Response to Marjorie:
I think you missed the reality here. Mule Riders sign a waiver and because the Ride IS such a big deal to many, both disabled or not. They willingly climb on a Mule and go down into the Canyon for the adventure of their lives. Several disabled riders I guided into the Canyon I remember. One in particular I remember was a double amputee that when we arrived at Phantom Ranch Laura and I put her in a wheel barrow to take her to her cabin that she shared with her son. It was a major test for her but that made it all the more important to her. When I described this adventure at the Kanab Stock Use meeting to Superintendent Steve Martin his only response was," you know, there is no wheelchair accessible ramp at Mather Point." He then retreated to the back of the room and gave the meeting over to someone else. Steve's Stock Use proposals need to be reversed. It's the right thing to do.
There are also scheduled "dragouts" and on the North Rim there ARE occasional rescues by Mule Wranglers working for Canyon Trail Rides.
The Canyon is a place for great adventures for hikers (I do a lot), riders and rafters. I believe that sharing the trails in good humor more illustrates what an awesome place it is.

It is apparent to everyone reading the comments, that martin will be remembered above all else for the mule ride issue.
Whatever side of the fence on may be on, on this issue, there is no questioning the obvious fact that Steve Martin in a partisan, biased against the mule ride, wanted to shut it down or at least diminish it, and used his power toward that end.
The mule ride that remains is merely a token, and what remains is there only because of the controversy that erupted over the issue.

If it's okay Kurt I have posted your great site on the Facebook/Grand Canyon Mule riders and Wrangler Appreciation site. Steve Martin and the Mules are front and center right now but the great majority of photos and postings are centered on the Canyon/Mules and what it means both historically, culturally and personally. I'd like to invite you and your readers to take a look.

Got a link, Rich?

What a good year for the Intermountion Region and Grand Canyon National Park first Mike Synder and now Steve Martin. It’s sad when I think of all the careers that these two men disrupted or destroyed. From my observation of Steve Martin he had an incredible sense of entitlement and an obsession to leave a legacy no matter what the collateral damage. The only mission he was concerned with was his, not the Mission of the Service.

You know I keep hearing Superintendent Martin was here five years. I am pretty sure it was just three. Three years is the period to qualify at the top of the pay scale(Grand Canyon) that they use to determine retirement income. You sure have created a lot of good will. Never did hear how the Mule Ride went with Ted Turner and your wife to Pipe Creek to catch another raft trip. Hey, you are a good guy. The handicapped have their ramp at Mather.

When I hear comments NPS employees on this issue and I hear them say there has been a culture change, it is THEIR culture that has changed. The great majority of Americans that contribute to this country respect the things that are grounded in history and REAL experiences. Click on the link below and you'll see such a man.

It occurred to me that as we mention the career accomplishements of Mr. Martin as he retires, perhaps we should mention that it follows closely on the heels of another retirement at Grand Canyon.
Casey Murph spent twenty years on mules on the Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails. To date he has the most trail time on muleback within the Grand Canyon of anyone living.
As manager of mule operations at the south rim for Xanterra, Casey was able to get pushed through considerable pay increases for the mule farriers. He created a system of promotion for trail guides, recognizing that as trail guides gained canyon experience, their responsibility increased. With promotion, trail guides also recieve pay increases, unheard of before Casey's management.
Casey was able to finally get a new set of corrals constructed at the Livery barn in the villiage, a project that had been asked for years before by the former livery manager and ignored.
Casey had many other improvements he was trying to get implemented, unfortunately he was constantly fighting NPS red tape and concessioner frugality. We have been pleased to note that most of these improvements have been implemented since Casey left, the controversy surrounding the mule ride issue forcing NPS to allow for these improvements, and Xanterra to cough up some money.
Casey will be best remembered for being the Manager of mule operations who went head to head with the powerful and connected Steve Martin over the mule ride issue. Casey laid his career on the line in order to try to save the historic mule ride, and ultimately paid the price when the red faced Martin cried for his head. Casey was the last of the old time mule bosses of Grand Canyon. One hundred years of history left that barn with him.

With all the information surfacing involving NPS meetings and statements made that don't seem to be acknowledged or even an admission that they took place concerning the Stock Use Proposals, I wouldn't be surprised if there was an investigation into improprieties. The Concessionaire, Xanterra, an expansive hotel management company, has been very quiet and was completely absent when the dialogue was going on involving stock use in the Canyon. The North Rim operation, separate from Xanterra, runs a very highly respected operation, fought to lessen the damage inflicted by Martin. Xanterra was completely absent in the conversation. I might draw a laugh but I would say the Xanterra MBA's in Denver lack the character, commitment and the trust to support the mule operation leaving the opportunity open for Superintendent Martin to pursue his agenda. The top two Xanterra managers certainly aren't going to say or do anything that might bring attention to themselves no matter how many committed and stellar employees they have to fire. That is the scenario that many see both in NPS and Xanterra employees and contributes greatly to the cloud that many have to work under as Xanterra employees. Martin has taken full advantage of this and instead of working in areas that would support the arguably BEST ride in one of the most remarkable places in the world, he has sought to degrade it out of existance but so far has come close to his goal if not for the token he's had to leave. I really hope and pray that all involved in this issue can redeem themselves because it would bring great hope to those that have lost it in these dealings.

I am thinking, what's wrong with this picture when a career NPS employee wants to pursue politics in retirement. Of course I am referring to Mr. Martin's retirement. Throughout the Stock Use EA I attempted to bring to the forefront the perspective of the public's benefit from the Ride. Their arguments seem overly weighted toward the mantra of saving the resource FROM the public when it's more ideological than reality. It reminds me of the political divide that is ongoing in Washington where Mr. Martin wants to return to.

I keep returning to this letter to remind myself of what this Canyon is all about to my riders and to myself. It's from a single mother of twins that blessed my ride to Phantom Ranch three years ago.

I've been thinking a lot about our experience with the canyon. I know it was incredible for both my kids, but perhaps especially for Noah. Last year this time, Noah was experiencing severe anxiety, was pulled out of school, and had become nearly suicidal. I know that sounds unbelievable for a then 11 year-old, but it was very intense and very scary. We got help for him (medical and otherwise), and he is making progress by leaps and bounds. I tell you this to let you know how huge it was for Noah to be able to do this. He was awake at 4 a.m. that morning of the mule ride, sure that he, or one of us, was fated to die that day on those mules. He was sobbing nearly hysterically and I began to doubt whether this was going to be possible and if I was doing the right thing. I helped him get back to sleep and by later that morning, the worst of it was gone, but by no means completely disappeared. I can't thank you enough for helping him (and me!) through that. It was a real breakthrough for him, one we'll never forget and one that has and will continue to make a lasting difference in his life. How incredible to get these things at the age of 12! Thank you again.

I've been reflecting on my own experience with the canyon too. What an amazing 30 hours, from Thursday morning to Friday afternoon. The canyon itself has become a powerful metaphor for me. Something happened to me over that day and a half. Something like a crevice opened up for me, and I was somehow inside of it and yet an observer of it, all at the same time. Like what I saw looking out over the canyon, the space I saw and felt within myself was deep, vast, and huge. At the bottom was the groundedness of the river - solid and strong, and at the top was the etherealness of the sky - weightless and fleeting. That heightened sense of awareness that the canyon blessed me with, combined with many of the things you said and did, and just your presence itself - gave me a perspective I hadn't had before. In any case, the result of all this was that I saw things differently - things about my childhood, my marriage, and myself. Somehow, the canyon and you achieved, seemingly without effort, what many hours of psychotherapy, books and occasionally medication, could not. Some of what I saw was painful, some of it was bittersweet, but it came with such an exhilarating and almost intoxicating sense of clarity. And I've decided I'll take clarity, even if it's painful, over ambiguity any day. It was that kind of clarity that seems to set the truth right smack in front of you, gives you wings and says "go now, you're free". I have you, and the canyon, to thank for that. Words really are inadequate to express my gratitude - but you and the canyon have been on my mind and I appreciate this opportunity to express some of it to you with this letter. It comes from my heart. I have no doubt that, while you love your work and feel blessed to be there, you are also providing something for people that is truly breathtaking and spectacular (and I don't just mean the views of the canyon). You are part of something that can make a valuable difference for peope. I hope you never lose sight of that. Well, I've probably rambled on longer than I should. Wish we were there.
Thanks for listening, Jill

This was one of the payoffs for me as a Mule Guide on both the North and South Rims. Being in the company of exposed, humble individuals of all ages seeing the reality of the mules and the Canyon and returning better people.

I also have come to the previous conclusion about Martin's motivations and I've had many interactions with him on the trail and in his office. He certainly has followed the money trail setting himself up for even higher rewards in retirement, politics/conservation. Even with the Intermountain Region receiving $200 million of borrowed Chinese money Martin couldn't find the money to preserve the 103 year old mule ride . We all knew from early on what Martin has proved that his personal wishes were anti-mule and heck with everyone. He couldn't defend ANY of his reasons factually or in a way that didn't reveal his prejudice. Political speak it was.

Yes, politics is an option for Steve but what historic retiring Park
Service employee goes off to spend more time with, politics? What's
wrong with that picture?

If Martin would have just responded to FOIA requests he might have more cred! Martin isn't from chicago is he?

As a frequent S. Kaibab Trail hiker I can't begin to thank Supt. Martin for what he has accomplished in the past two years, the trail is now hikable. Taking the mules off the trail temporarily to allow the trail crew to complete major repair, no, complete overhaul, has made a world of difference. It is now possible for hikers to enjoy one of the corridor trails free of excessive dust, deep steps and holes, and the stench of mule urine. Many more visitors hike the canyon trails than ride the mules and they should be able to hike one of the three corridor trails (BA, South and North Kaibab) free of mules. Stop whining mule skinners, the Grand Canyon Mules aren't going anywhere, they're still taking visitors into the canyon and they will be for a long time, but it is time to share the trails and to allow others to have their canyon hiking experience free of mules.

Now if we can move on from the mule issue - I have notice incredible changes and improvements to Grand Canyon in the past four years, finally parking at the visitors center, bike trails and rental facility, returning Yavapai Geology Museum to its intended use, expanded shuttle service, repaving of Hermit Road and establishment of a real rim trail out to Hermits Rest, expansion of the greenway, and on and on.

Is Superintendent Martin controversial? of course, it's the Grand Canyon! Did he get things done? you bet ya!

Obviously posted by Sara Palin. You betcha, LOL!

About the whining, it's interesting about one's perspective on things. Nice try though.
What doesn't ever get much credit or even acknowledgement is the fact that these packers and guides accept a tremendous amount of responsibility for their charges, whether it be their mules and high volume of hiker duffels they carry and every other item hikers have grown accustomed to at Phantom Ranch. Riders from 4 foot seven to the handicapped and people in their lat 80's. From Thanksgiving turkeys to the hiking poles hikers realize they need when they get to the bottom. Today, there are mules on the South Kaibab doing the work that they have been doing for over a 100 years, hauling dirt, rock and Juniper posts so hikers can have a sidewalk grade walking path into the wilderness.

It needs to be told what these packers accept in support of, mainly hikers. Getting loads ready at 2 am in the summer to beat the heat and in all kinds of weather that the Canyon throws at them in the winter. Temperatures below zero at times to 120 in the summer. They absolutely love their job because it requires commitment and a REAL love that comes from sacrifice and REAL equity in the effort. There are untold numbers of hikers that, in some cases, owe their lives to either wranglers or packers on the trail. I know!

What I've come to see as the real payoff for everyone in the Canyon, whether it's a hiker, mule rider, guide, packer or rafter, is how insignificant we really are. Humbled, outward looking and grateful for every little blessing. It's a great perspective and I'd see the benefit of the changes that would occur in my riders on a daily basis. I believe we ALL have something to learn in the Canyon and from what I am hearing as reasons to diminish what MANY of my riders have confessed (in tears many of them) is the best experience in their lives, there is more to learn, and that is fine.

This movement to support the mules in the Canyon won't be going away.

In response to the earlier comment, that individual who is so full of praise for Steve Martin for kicking the mules off the Kaibab, ill say this.
One of the first compromises I put forward to alleviate hiker, rider conflict was to give the hikers exclusive use of the Kaibab trail. Under my proposal only pack mules would be sharing that trail with the hikers, and my experience has been hikers rarely grumble about the mules when those mules happen to be carrying their beer.
Under my proposal, then the mule riders would have exclusive use of the Bright Angel in return. I thought this was a fair compromise, since, after all, the mule riders on the Bright Angel preceded hikers by about ONE HUNDRED YEARS!!!!!!!!...ahem.....
Not to get bogged down in Hyperbole, ..This was rejected out of hand by the NPS, as the hiker element, whom Martin is interested in pleasing, want the Bright Angel trail due to its conveneince.
And yes it is true there is a tiny remnant of mules that remain to carry passengers into the canyon. I hope I do not sound immodest, but I will take credit for that, and thank you very much. As far as this notion that they are not going anywhere, let me tell you something.
NPS does not want the blame for removing the mules,they want to make it unprofitable, or dangerous, so that Xanterra will remove the mules and Xanterra will take the blame. And at only a maximum of ten riders into Phantom, and no more affordable one day ride, its only a matter of time before Xanterra has a reason to make that move.

In confirmation of the last paragraph of Casey's response (it's spot on in it's entirety), in conversations with NPS project lead, I said that she and Martin MUST know what their proposals lead to. In letter after letter to NPS during the public input "process', LOL, some of their proposals aren't possible due to safety issues. How much they've listened is predictable, particularly Martin. Which would lead to what Casey has envisioned.

There IS an Achilles Heel connected to NPS/Martin's anatomy and it would be better if Director Jon Jarvis did the surgery rather than making the National Park Service in it's entirety pay the price, hurting those foot soldiers in the field (NPS) and the funding public.

It is a fact that the number of inner canyon hikers who want the corridor trails free of mules represent a tiny minority. The vast majority of citizens wanted the mules to stay and would rather them left alone. Martin was acting as representative of this tiny minority and not acting in the interest of the citizens of the united states, or in accordance with the NPS mission statement.

I have to go back to what Marjorie wrote in an earlier post that no one with heart problems should go in the Canyon. My group I was with riding to Plateau Point (a ride that Supt. Martin discontinued) arrived and we were eating lunch together overlooking the Colorado River and this little gal with a squeaky voice was so captured by the experience of the mules and the Canyon she 'fessed up that she had a HEART transplant nine months before. She had lived with a death sentence for years until she had the transplant. She was such a joy to have her on the ride. I mean a REAL JOY! The complaints about mule poop are put into perspective and what those complainers might learn in the Canyon.
Rock on Canyon Mules!

I did not know of this issue of the loss of the day rides. I surely wish we'd experienced it while we had a chance. What a collosal shame. Mr. Murph, what are you doing now?

I sincerely hope the Plateau Point elimination is only temporary, Sheryl B. Casey is running his own ranch and another for the owner, raising a son and staying in the saddle:).

Regarding the "retirement" of mr martin...good riddance to bad rubbish. The mules? What a huge loss. I had the pleasure of going on the Phantom trip with my 68yr old mother and my 17 yr old daughter. My mother had a broken arm and was concerned that she would not be allowed to ride due to the rules. Being a tough bird she was able to mount with little help and rode Roscoe with great aplomb. My beautiful daughter carried the mail on Joe Bear. I was blessed with Mutton. We had so much fun...along with the retirees who made up the rest of the strings. Having lead rides through the mountains of central Arizona myself, in my youth, I truly appreciated the kindness and professionalism of ALL the staff at the Grand Canyon Mule Barns. They deserve so much more than what they are getting now...the shaft! Mr. Murph was a gentleman, Rich signed my water bag, Laura was so nice and the little lady with the braids was the sweetest! Sorry I forgot her name...I was stunned to hear about the loss of the rides....and the reduction to just 10 to Phantom is a loss! Maybe if the hikers who gripe have to carry their own duffles and meals etc, some of this loonyness would come to a screeching halt. mule pee indeed! People aka hikers are responsible for the trail deterioration. Just like the roads etc everywhere else. And the powers that be just don't get that do they?

long live the mules