About Coconino County

About Coconino County

Encompassing 18,661 square miles, Coconino County, Arizona, is the second largest county in the U.S. but one of the least populated. Our county includes Grand Canyon National Park, the Navajo, Havasupai, Hualapai and Hopi Indian Reservations, and the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world. Elevations range from 2,000 feet above sea level along the Colorado River to 12,633 feet at the summit of Mt. Humphreys in Flagstaff.

Search for Overdue Backpacker on the North Rim, Grand Canyon

On Thursday, members of our Coconino County Search and Rescue team headed out to help the National Park Service with a search in the area of Sowats Point and Jumpup on the North Rim of Grand Canyon. Volunteers were told they needed to be prepared to be self-sufficient for 48 hours.

I don't know a lot about the search at this point, except that the 64-year-old, solo hiker was on a strenuous, multi-day trip including the Bill Hall Trail and was due out of the Canyon on Monday. After the Park Service was notified, presumably by family, that the hiker was overdue, they conducted some of their own investigation and searching before contacting Coconino SAR for assistance on Wednesday afternoon. I'm told that high winds have hampered aircraft searches in the area.

If the search continues beyond Saturday, I expect more requests for Coconino SAR's assistance will be made. My backpack is always ready, just in case.
In other Coco SAR news...

On June 8th, the team was called out to assist with evacuations and road blocks associated with a wildfire in the Turkey Hills area east of Flagstaff. This turned out to be an intentionally set fire -- make that fireS, because there were 14 of them (!) along a gas pipline -- which forced the evacuation of approximately 50 area residents and burned an unoccupied mobile home. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the fire was quickly contained by several ground crews and air tankers.

As the firefighting efforts were underway, a woman approached one of our team members at a road block. Visibly upset, she spoke to the SAR volunteer for several minutes, then admitted she was concerned that a family member had started the fires. Information was taken from the individual, and then SAR contacted the Sheriff's Office. In the early hours of June 9th, 20-year-old Obrian Wilson Kee was arrested and eventually admitted to starting the fires because he was upset with his girlfriend. See: Arrest Made in Hill Fire from the Arizona Daily Sun.

SAR also recently responded to three calls for lost or overdue hikers, on the same day. All were quickly located and in good condition.

We have a feeling this is going to continue to be a busy summer for Coconino County Search and Rescue, in part due to the fact that the White Mountains have been torched by the Wallow Fire, likely bringing more people to northern Arizona for outdoor recreation.