The NPS Says It's Promoting Competition, but a Grand Canyon Concessionaire Claims Otherwise


There's a complicated legal situation at the Grand Canyon these days because a private concessionaire, Xanterra Parks and Resorts, has accused the National Park Service of mismanagement.

Trying to follow the situation without an economics degree or a legal dictionary is tough so we're going to break it down for you:

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Boy Scouts Worried About New Day-Hiking Rules at Grand Canyon

Image: Ray Stern
A new permit fee and restrictions for day hikers below the rim of Grand Canyon could "crush" travel plans for some Boy Scouts, a leader for the organization warned.

On Thursday, the National Park Service published new rules for what it calls "extended day hiking" and rim-to-rim trips by non-commercial groups, stating the changes were necessary because of the impact of the increasingly popular activity. The rules include obtaining a $175 permit -- a large increase from the previous price of "free" -- and limits on the number of hikers from each group.

Schools, church groups and hiking clubs are the most likely to be affected.

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Parking Meters Possibly Coming to Echo Canyon and Other Lots in Phoenix Preserves

Image: Ray Stern
Phoenix officials are considering a new plan that would make hikers move faster up and down the trails: Parking meters.

Paid parking for mountain preserves and parks was authorized by the city's Parks and Recreation Department in 2010, but so far the city has never charged users. That could be changing.

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Camelback Mountain's Echo Canyon Trail to Re-Open on January 15

City of Phoenix
Echo Canyon Trail at Camelback Mountain is scheduled to re-open to the public on January 15 with a new trailhead, restroom facilities, and expanded parking lot.

This looks like a firm date (following an "oops" moment in September). Expected temperatures in the low 70s should help make it a great day for a hike.

But leave the pooch at home, at least for the next six months.

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Phoenix Feels About 110 Degrees Warmer Than Minneapolis Today

Smabs Sputzer via Flickr

Just to illustrate how miserable other parts of the country are right now, it feels about 110 degrees warmer in Phoenix than it does in Minneapolis, at the time of this post.

It's around -12 degrees in Minneapolis, according to AccuWeather, but it feels like it's about -40 degrees. In Phoenix, it's about 64 degrees, and it feels about 70 degrees.

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Deaths Near "The Wave" Formation in Arizona Prompts New Sign, More Warnings by BLM

The Wave
A new sign and more safety warnings are coming from the Bureau of Land Management following the deaths of three hikers this summer near "The Wave" formation near the Arizona-Utah border.

Following an analysis of the tragedies, the BLM says today in a news release that several steps will be taken immediately. They include:

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Grand Canyon Guides Duane Hager and Michael Stephens Charged for Unauthorized, 90-Client Rim-to-Rim Day Hike

Image: Ray Stern
View from North Kaibab trail.
Federal authorities have charged two would-be Grand Canyon guides for taking 90 clients from the Valley on an unauthorized, rim-to-rim day hike.

Duane Hager, a Litchfield Park real estate agent, and his business partner Michael Stephens, the principals of Rim to Rim Adventures, face four counts related to defrauding the government, failing to obtain a commercial-use permit and lying to forest rangers.

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Stanford Wero and Tamara Lake of Flagstaff Convicted for Taking 8-Month-Old Baby on Long Grand Canyon Hike

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Image: Ray Stern
Authorities say Stanford Wero and Tamara Lake took their 8-month-old baby on a long Grand Canyon hike and became too exhausted to hike out with the tot.
Stanford Wero, Tamara Lake, and Lake's uncle, Vinton Whitehat, are three reasons why signs at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon warn people not to try to walk all the way to the Colorado River and back in one day.

After setting out down the South Kaibab trail and hiking to the river with Wero and Lake's 8-month-old daughter, the trio experienced severe exhaustion and hunger.

Wero ate part of the baby's food, records show. Then, concluding there was no way they'd make it back up if they had to carry the baby, they gave her to a stranger.

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James Reich of Sedona Hiking Adventures Sentenced to Jail and Probation for Illegal Guide Service

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James Reich, owner of Sedona Hiking Adventures, has been sentenced to two days in jail for running an illegal guide service on national forest lands.

A Sedona-based hiking guide has been sentenced to two days in jail and is banned from national forests for six months after getting caught running a tour service on federal lands without a permit.

James Reich of Sedona Hiking Adventures is also prohibited from working as a guide in national forests for the duration of his 18-month probation, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Reich's Web site states that he guides folks to numerous locales in northern Arizona for $35 an hour, per person. He founded the company in 2004 due to a love for the outdoors.

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Grand Canyon Torture Hikes; Police Report Describes Boys' Summer of Abuse by Grandpa

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Three boys whose grandfather forced them on torturous marches across tough Grand Canyon trails told rangers their entire summer had been filled with travel and abuse.

The three boys -- 8, 9 and 12 -- told how their grandpa, Christopher Carlson of Indianapolis, injured them repeatedly during trips to various states, Mexico, Jamaica and several South American countries.

It's unknown where the boys reside or why they were with their grandfather, who's now in jail in connection with possible child abuse charges. A police report mentions that the childrens' mother may have known of some of the abuse. The 9-year-old told a ranger that his mother had told Carlson "that the boys 'better be getting air' if he is choking them."

The report, which you can read below, goes into sickening detail of how the maniacal grandpa pushed the boys to the brink of death up and down the canyon in temperatures that soared over 100 degrees.

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