Texas Man Found Dead on Big Bend National Park Trail, NPS Announces

by Amy Myers

This past Thursday, a Big Bend National Park visitor died while hiking the popular Chimneys Trail at some point in the evening.

At 7:45 p.m.,  Big Bend National Park’s Communications Center’s received notice that there was a death roughly a half-mile into the moderately difficult trail. That’s where they found the unnamed 75-year-old man from Houston, Texas.

“Big Bend National Park staff and partners are saddened by this loss,” stated Deputy Superintendent David Elkowitz in an official release, “and our entire park family extends sincere condolences to the hiker’s family and friends.”

The park also warned that this time of year can be incredibly dangerous in Big Bend National Park because of the high heat. Without sufficient water and supplies, a relatively easy hike may turn into a deadly one.

“Summer temperatures in Big Bend are extreme,” the park informed. “Temperatures over most of the park reach 100+ degrees by late morning and increase to exceedingly dangerous levels until long after sunset. On Thursday afternoon, the temperatures along the Chimneys Trail exceeded 104 degrees. Park Rangers wish to remind all visitors to be aware of the dangers of extreme heat. Hikers should be prepared to carry and drink one gallon of water per day, and to plan on being off desert trails by noon.”

The Chimneys Trail is a 5-mile long loop that travels passed prominent volcanic formations in the western desert of the park. According to Big Bend National Park hikers on AllTrails, there isn’t much relief from the sun on this route. Many users suggested that fellow adventurers take this trail either early in the morning or late in the evening.

One hiker even shared, “We turned around because it was just a walk straight into the sun. Not the best sunset hike.”

Canyonlands Experiences Similar Tragedy as Big Bend National Park

Unfortunately, the 75-year-old man’s death was not the first of its kind for our national parks this month. Just days before the death at Big Bend National Park, on July 17, a visitor at the Canyonlands suffered a very similar fate.

According to the park’s release, officials received notice of a man that was “overdue after attempting a short hike from Elephant Hill in the Needles District.”

Two days later, search teams located the man’s body near the trailhead.

Investigators are currently working to determine the cause of death, but similar to Big Bend, Canyonlands National Park included tips on how to prepare for and safely explore the park in extreme heat.

“All hikers should ensure they are drinking plenty of fluids, eating snacks, traveling in the early morning hours, resting during the heat of the day, and dressing appropriately for the weather,” the park advised.