Tour guide convicted for leading illegal Grand Canyon packrafting trip – again

People rafting in Grand Canyon
(Image credit: Getty)

A man has been fined $2,500 and banned from US National Parks for two years after being caught leading an illegal packrafting trip in the Grand Canyon. As the National Park Service (NPS) explained in a statement, Samuel H Edwards was convicted of the misdemeanor charges: leading a backcountry packrafting trip without a permit and entering a restricted area.

Packrafting, or river assisted backcountry travel (RABT), is somewhere between backpacking and hiking. Packrafters use compact inflatable boats that can be compressed small enough to fit in a backpack to link up sections of trail, allowing them to explore different routes or visit isolated locations.

The activity is believed to have originated in Alaska, where portable boats were used to make it easier to journey in areas of unmapped wilderness.

Packrafting safety

Packrafting can be a fun way to explore, but the fast-moving water and often inaccessible backcountry locations mean that packrafting can also be dangerous if the proper precautions aren't followed. Anyone planning to lead a trip in Grand Canyon National Park needs to apply for a special backcountry permit with the RABT designation.

"Unpermitted packrafting trips can lead to dangerous situations for participants, as the park has no knowledge of their whereabouts if something goes wrong," explains the NPS. "In 2022, there were 338 SAR (Search And Rescue) incidents and 11 fatalities in Grand Canyon National Park."

This is Edwards' second conviction for leading an unauthorized packrafting trip and potentially putting his tour group in danger.

"By employing only legitimate and permitted guides, visitors can minimize both their own risk and the impact they have on the land," the NPS adds.

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.