Body Discovered at Arches National Park Identified

by Jon D. B.
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, UT - SEPTEMBER 20, 2011: Visitors to Arches National Park near Moab, Utah, photograph the park's best known attraction, Delicate Arch. The park contains the largest concentration of natural sandstone arches in the world, sculpted by 100 million years of erosion. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

The body, recently discovered within Utah’s Arches National Park (ARCH), has finally been identified as a Virginia woman.

Found over the weekend of October 1-2, Arches park rangers and Grand County, Utah deputies recovered the woman’s body from the popular Devils Garden area of the national park. Kaitlyn Thomas, ARCH spokeswoman, says the body was located before 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1.

It is unknown if a park visitor or staff first found the body. But once retrieved, officials would send the woman’s remains to the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner in Taylorsville for an autopsy, cites local KSL.

Utah, Arches National Park, Campsite At Devils Garden Campground.
Utah, Arches National Park, Campsite At Devils Garden Campground. (Photo by Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

In the time since, the woman has been identified. In life, she was Ekaterina Yaroslava Ksenjek, a native of Arlington, Virginia. Ksenjek was 33 years old at the time of her death, Thomas said in a Wednesday statement. “The cause of death has not been determined, and the investigation is still ongoing,” she added on behalf of Arches National Park.

Thomas clarifies that Ksenjek’s case is now in the hands of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. Outsider sends our sincerest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Ksenjek.

Tragedy at Arches National Park a Reminder of Desert Safety

If there’s one specific area of Arches tourists flock to, it’s Devils Garden. There, grand arches, massive spires, and an enormous concentration of narrow rock walls called “fins” (formed when rainwater erodes parallel fractures caused by the uplift of salt deposits below the surface) dominate the desert landscape.

As with all of nature’s beauty, however, Arches’ desert has a dark side, and the wildly unique geology of Arches presents unique challenges. Each year, ARCH park rangers respond to hundreds of search and rescue incidents (SARs) in both Arches and Canyonlands. Out in this vast desert, location and rescue can take hours – even days – as was the case with Ksenjek.

Sadly, deaths do occur more often here than in most national parks. In order to stay healthy during desert excursions, it is best to avoid hiking in the middle of the day in Arches.

In Addition, Arches National Park’s Tips will Keep You Hydrated and Safe:

  • Eat plenty of food and drink at least one gallon of water, per person, each day
  • Carry and drink water (at least 2 liters) during all activities in the park, such as hiking
  • If you forget yours or lose what you’ve brought, you can get water at the visitor center and at the Devils Garden trailhead and campground
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat
  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin
  • Again, avoid hiking in the middle of the day! Save strenuous activity for early mornings or evenings

Moreover, Arches’ HEAT KILLS program is in place to help visitors recreate responsibly in the Utah national park. It may seem intense, but heat is the leading cause of death in Arches National Park.

For the best safety information ahead of your own Arches excursion, please see our Arches National Park Safety: Best Practices To Safely Explore the Desert Park next.