2 Hikers Dead, 1 Hospitalized, After Flash Floods Tear Through Utah's Buckskin Gulch

Slot Canyon
Buckskin Gulch in Utah's Kane County.Getty

The hikers were reported missing after they failed to return from a three-day trek through Buckskin Gulch, one of the most dangerous slot canyons in the country.

Flash floods that ripped through Utah's Buckskin Gulch have killed two hikers and left another hospitalized. Rescuers had been looking for the trio since they were reported missing on Monday.

Family members contacted authorities after the hikers failed to return to Lees Ferry, in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, after what was supposed to be a three-day hike through Buckskin Gulch, one of the most dangerous slot canyons in the country.

A slot canyon is a long, narrow channel through sheer rock walls. Buckskin Gulch measures more than 20 miles and has few access or extraction points.

Helicopters were dispatched to find the group, and searchers spied a campsite, according to Kane County Sheriff's Lt. Alan Alldredge.

"They were able to from the air ... find some areas where it looked like camping equipment, a backpack," Alldredge said. 

One man was observed in distress, and a rescuer was lowered by helicopter, the sheriff said. The hiker was extracted with "serious health problems at that time, being cold and in the water for three days and struggling with that," Alldredge said.

The unidentified man was recuperating in a hospital, authorities said. Searchers found the body of a second member of the group, a man from Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday, Alldredge said. The third person's body was discovered Wednesday.

The sheriff's office said it had dispatched crews to rescue at least 10 other people in the same area near the Utah-Arizona border. 

Flooding is currently a major concern as spring approaches and as the region's huge snowpack begins to melt. Slot canyons are often inundated with fast-moving flood waters that can rip away hikers.

A flood watch was issued for nearby Zion National Park from Tuesday night through Thursday, with high water expected throughout the park.

Related Stories