Arizona Man Busted For Organizing 300-Hiker Rim-to-Rim Crossing Of Grand Canyon National Park

Three-hundred hikers. Well, not quite 300, but almost, according to Grand Canyon National Park rangers. And they all descended on the park last October 19 in a bid to hike from the North Rim to the South Rim. In one day.

Behind the hike-in was Scott Beck, a Phoenix man who tried to convince rangers that even though he chartered five buses, and even though he told the participants to tell rangers, if approached, that they were "not with a group of 300," that this "23rd Annual" outing was not a commercial endeavor.

Now, that many hikers can, and did, cause some problems on their cross-canyon trek.

"The large number of hikers in the canyon that day caused impacts to vegetation and created long lines at the Phantom Ranch canteen and restroom facilities," noted the park's Canyon District ranger, Debbie Brenchley. "The Phantom wastewater treatment operator reported that the sewage treatment plant was operating at capacity. Rangers took complaints from hikers who complained about congestion on the trails. Several minor medicals and search and rescue operations were also attributed to Beck’s group."

Rangers investigating the surge of hikers were told by some that they were "only with a small number of friends and not as part of a large group, but many appeared to be avoiding contact with rangers and they all described similar travel arrangements," the district ranger noted in her report.

During interviews, Beck claimed that his trip was “organized” but not commercial, and that he had not profited, Ranger Brenchley added.

However, when rangers served a search warrant on an online event registration website that Beck had used to solicit trip participants and collect fees, they estimated that his gross income for the event was nearly $50,000, and that his profit was about $9,500.

Charged with engaging in an illegal business operation and making false statements, Beck was convicted last month on one count of engaging in business operations without obtaining a permit, the ranger said. Pursuant to a plea agreement, he was sentenced to a year of probation, during which time he is banned from Grand Canyon National Park and from conducting or advertising for any tours or guided trips on national park or national forest lands. He was also fined $500 and ordered to serve 50 hours of community service.

"Beck has since formally notified all trip participants that he will no longer be conducting his annual trip, and has pledged to donate $2,000 to Grand Canyon National Park," said Ranger Brenchley.

Comments

I'm curious if this was really the 23rd such outing and If so, what was it about this year that the park service decided to take action? I recently read a similar story about a well known and long held race which goes through death valley that the park service all of a sudden decided wasn't appropriate (badwater marathon). I certainly agree we shouldn't start opening our parks to anyone who wants to conduct a race (or any other event) that causes undue disruption or a negative impact. Given a choice, I wouldn't hike the canyon on the same day as an additional 300 people if I knew in advance. That said, for some reason I have a much different opinion about the badwater situation. While I see the need to protect resources and maintain public access, in the case of the badwater marathon I see minimal impact and even the potential to promote the park if handled correctly.

50 lashes with a wet noodle. It didn't even cut into his profits?

I can't believe you could cause so much damage to park and not get banned from it.

I think it was the comment by a one day RXR'er irritated about losing four minutes off their time waiting for the packers with their mules with supplies for Phantom Ranch to go by that gave me my most lasting impression of their mind set. Something about bringing the urban mindset to the Canyon and leaving with same.