Hikers caught hurling rocks into Grand Canyon "to hear the sound they make"

The South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon
(Image credit: photo75)

Throwing rocks and other objects into the Grand Canyon is illegal, but sometimes curiosity overrides common sense. A pair of hikers were spotted recently throwing rocks over the rim, and when questioned, said they "wanted to hear the sound they made going down

Instagram user randomcairns realized the people likely meant no harm and simply hadn't considered the danger. After shooting a quick video (which you can see below), she and took a moment to speak with them, explaining that the stones could easily hit people or animals below. The visitors seemed to take her words on board, apologized, and moved on (hopefully not to a more discreet spot for stone-throwing).

Randomcairns sent her video to Infamous Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks, which calls out bad behavior at sites of natural beauty around the world. Other incidents at the Grand Canyon have included people holding a ulekele singalong on the rim, and hitting golf balls over the edge.

Curiosity turns to tragedy

The odds of a thrown rock hitting someone are low, but it can happen – with tragic consequences. In 2007, climber Pete Absolon was killed  when 23-year-old Luke Rudolph dropped a bowling ball-sized rock off the edge of a cliff. Like the tourists at the Grand Canyon, Rudolph just wanted to see what would happen, and had enjoyed sending several rocks over the edge.

"It was really awesome to watch the rocks fall,” Rudolph said later. "You could see every bounce, every hit, all the way to the glacier."

He hadn't spotted Absolon and his friend Steve Herlihy before dropping the final rock. It hit Absolon right on the head, smashing his helmet and killing him instantly.

The National Park Service explicitly forbids throwing anything over the rim of the Grand Canyon. Even if you look before rolling a rock, there are hundreds of miles of trails below the rim, many of which can't be easily seen from above.

"Never throw rocks, coins, trash, or anything else over the edge," say the park's safety guidelines. "Objects tossed over the edge or dislodged by walking off trail can injure hikers and wildlife below, or start landslides."

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.