A trip to the Grand Canyon can be an incredible vacation, but it can also end in tragedy.
The most terrifying incident happened June 30th, 1956, when a pair of planes collided above the canyon. Both planes were trying to avoid clouds and flew into uncontrolled airspace. All 128 people aboard the flights were killed. Though tragic, this incident has ultimately benefitted air travelers, bringing about the creation of higher-altitude flight paths and better communication with air traffic control.
There have been about 500 deaths at the Grand Canyon since the 1800s. Causes of death include drowning in flash floods, dehydration, suicide, helicopter crashes and murder. There have also been several cases of freak accidents, such as lightning strikes, snakebites and rockslides.
There have also been famous fictional deaths at the Grand Canyon. In the final scene of the movie Thelma & Louise, the title characters commit suicide by driving their car over the edge of the cliffs. Since the film's release in 1991, this scene has become iconic in American pop culture. There was even a documented suicide case in July of 2009 where a man killed himself in the exact same fashion. Police investigating the incident believe that he intentionally copied the film.
The most common hazard at the Grand Canyon, however, is fatigue and dehydration. Many hikers overestimate their ability to hike the trail to the bottom of the canyon. Even people who think they are extremely physically fit end up exhausted and dehydrated. Bringing an adequate supply of water is essential for all hikers.
Water isn't the only thing you'll need in the Grand Canyon. Food, hiking equipment and emergency supplies are necessities. If you're not an experienced hiker, do some research about staying overnight at one of the cabins or campsites at the bottom of the canyon. Staying overnight will ensure that you are rested for the difficult hike back up, which shouldn't be attempted in one day. Freak accidents aren't likely to happen, but you can prevent the accidents possible from poor judgment!
Knowing the history of the Grand Canyon will make your visit to this national treasure all the more poignant.