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.

Curious Wild Places......yes, this was the 23rd crossing of the group that had done the R2R. And there never ever had been a problem with the Park Service until this past year. Sadly, it had nothing to do at all with the hikers or the person that graciously took it upon himself to help a group of people achieve a big hiking goal. Please remember that last October the Federal government shut down. All National Parks were affected. The GC was only open for a few days prior to this hike last year. And it turned out that the park employees were in foul moods because they had to return to work. These Federal employees, our Park Rangers, were paid when they were on furlough. The Rangers were mad that they had to come back to work. They liked the idea of a furlough when they were getting paid!!! It was easy for them to get mad at a group of hikers of this size. But remember, for the 22 years prior to this they never had a problem with it. It is really sad as to how the Rangers acted that day. But, it was exceptionally refreshing to talk to the employees at the lodge and the concessions. These employees were temporarilly laid off and were excited to get back to work and receive a pay check. They were not paid during the furlough, like the Federal government employees. It is too bad the author or this article and the subsequent commentators did not have all the facts.

Wild Places..........I see you had a question as to the 23rd crossing of the R2R group. Take a look at the commentary with the original article. Thanks!!!

Gee, Day Hiker, how many rangers did you talk to who said they were mad about going back to work? If you look at the NPS employee's facebook page, you get exactly the opposite point of view. The organizer of this project needs to go through the regular channels if he wants to do business the GRCA. It's hard to do it on the sly with 300 people.

Rick

I agree, Rick Smith. I'm surrounded by NPS employees here in my small town; rangers, museum staff, trail crew, and all. Everyone I know was pissed at the political grandstanding that put them off work, fearing for their income, leaving projects in limbo. That the salary would be made right was in doubt and everyone I know was making drastic personal budget planning decisions. Frankly, DayHiker's self-serving comments are pretty damn insulting to folks I know.