Tomorrow is the night! One evening from now, the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead will come down, making it the perfect time for Hatch’s Halloween Countdown to focus on…


The Grand Canyon is a place of magnificent beauty. Its scale alone is enough to make visitors sit in awe of this natural wonder. And, like many wild places of natural places of beauty, the Grand Canyon has taken lives. Those exploring its depths when the river was uncharted, those not exercising enough caution in modern day, and even those who just happened to have some bad luck, have lost their lives in the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon, Hatch River Expeditions

Photo Credit: NPS

As of the publication of Ghiglieri and Myers’s Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon in 2001, there had been 550 total deaths starting with Powell’s expedition in 1869. Unaccounted for in that publication were the thousands of years during which the canyon was occupied by Native peoples prior to Powell’s exploration, during which time there surely were many additional deaths.

Some claim to have seen literal ghosts in some of the canyon’s hotels and on some of the trails. On a trail near Crash Canyon where two planes collided and wrecked into Chuar and Temple Buttes in 1956, people have claimed to see some of the 128 crash victims along with some Native Americans walking and talking to each other. Others claim to have seen specters in the various buildings on the rim. In fact, El Tovar boasts the presences of its builder, Fred Harvey, walking around in a coat and black top hat.

Whether these ghost stories truly indicate the presence of spirits in the Grand Canyon, or are merely the result of imaginations running wild, there are signs everywhere that the canyon has long been occupied. From the petroglyphs along the walls in the Deer Creek Narrows to Ben Beamer’s cabin near the confluence of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado, signs of those who lived in and visited the Canyon long before us are all around.

On your Grand Canyon river trip, your guides will even point out to you the memorials of some who have died along the river. Watch for the inscription near Soap Creek Rapid written by Robert Brewster Stanton marking the place where his companion died: "F.M. Brown was drowned July 10, 1884 opposite this point." And, keep your eyes to river right after Upset Rapid for a pie plate memorializing Hatch Boatman, Shorty Burton.

Whether the ghosts of the Grand Canyon are literal or metaphorical, it’s impossible to deny the amount of history between those canyon walls or to ignore the remnants of those who have gone before. One of the most touching things about being there is knowing you are standing where so many others have stood, admiring what so many others have admired.

Hatch’s Halloween Countdown: Five Chills and Thrills on Grand Canyon River Trips (#1 Ghosts) was last modified: October 31st, 2015 by Jessica Clark

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