Hiker narrowly avoids tragedy at Grand Canyon after stepping off rim while taking photos

Hikers at horseshoe bend grand canyon
(Image credit: Jordan Siemens)

A visitor nearly fell to her death while taking photos at the Grand Canyon after she stepped backward without looking. The young woman was taking pictures of a friend when she moved back to get a better shot and stepped off the rim. 

A video shot by another park visitor was shared via Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks this week, and shows that the woman was lucky to keep her balance after accidentally putting her foot down on a narrow ledge. It comes as a timely reminder to take care during the popular spring hiking season in Arizona.

"Stay on designated trails and walkways and always keep a safe distance of at least six feet (2m) from the edge," warns the National Park Service (NPS). Visitors are warned not to cross fences or railings, to be careful where they are putting their feet, and never back up without looking first.

This visitor escaped with only rattled nerves, but not everyone is so lucky and tragic accidents can happen in seconds. In 2020, 35-year-old Colleen Burns died at Ooh Aah Point, a popular photo spot on the South Kaibab Trail, when trying to move out of the way for another hiker who was trying to snap picture of the sunset.

"She was stepping out of the way for another gentleman to kind of squeeze in, and unfortunately, Colleen kind of got tripped up on her own feet and fell backwards, fell into the canyon," Burns' friend  friend Jessica Roman told WESH-TV.

The previous year, a tourist from Hong Kong died in similar circumstances while taking photos at the Eagle Point Observation Area, near the Grand Canyon Skywalk bridge.

"Keep an eye on all of the people in your group, especially small children," says the NPS. "Make sure that your travel companions have both feet firmly planted on pavement or developed trails at all times."

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.