Canyon Torque 29 AL 6 review – Full-Suspension – Mountain Bikes

Canyon’s previous-generation Torque was one of a dying breed of long-travel 650b-wheeled bikes.

It’s been reworked substantially this year, with new frame details, revised geometry and bigger 29in wheels at each end.

Canyon Torque 29 AL 6 frame and suspension

Canyon relies on its familiar four-bar suspension design on the new Torque.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

In common with other new Canyons, the Torque’s low-slung frame has good standover clearance, rocks some pretty slick lines and is better finished than ever.

Out back, there’s the tried-and-tested four-bar suspension design we’ve come to expect from the German brand, plus a SRAM universal derailleur hanger, which will be easier to replace if you damage it hucking off cliffs away from home.

The new Torque is also available in carbon fibre, with adjustable geometry (via a flip chip at the tip of the seatstays, which isn’t on the alloy version) and 29in, 650b or mixed (MX) wheel sizes.

Cables are routed into the chunky aluminium frame.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

This, however, is the seriously robust-looking aluminium chassis, with big, beaded welds on the compact front triangle.

The old shock yoke is gone, with the air-sprung Fox Float X2 damper now attaching directly to the seatstay tip, and the smooth-edged rocker link wrapping around the curved seat tube to meet the stays further down.

There’s (finally) room for a water bottle on the curvy down tube. The pivot hardware uses steel inserts for durability, but the frame is still said to be 200g lighter than the previous generation.

Canyon Torque 29 AL 6 geometry

Geometry is pretty standard for a bike of this type, with the effective seat tube angle 78 degrees.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

This aluminium Torque lacks the geometry-adjust feature found on the carbon version.

Instead, Canyon has split the difference, giving the AL version the head angle from the slack setting (63.5 degrees) and the effective seat tube angle of the steeper setting (78 degrees) as found on the carbon frame, along with the 30mm bottom bracket (BB) drop.

These angles are pretty normal for a ‘bike park’ machine nowadays, and Canyon has stretched the latest Torque’s (carbon and aluminium frames) sizing so it’s in line with many contemporaries.

The large frame tested here has a 485mm reach (the key indicator of distance from hands to feet). While this sounds roomy, it’s actually 5mm shorter than the reach on the carbon 29er and doesn’t leave the frame feeling massive.

This is something to be aware of, because loads of rival mountain bikes with marginally shorter claimed reaches on paper feel bigger than this.

Canyon Torque 29 AL 6 specifications

Fizik’s Gravita Alpaca X5 sits on an own-brand dropper post.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

It’ll be no surprise to hear that Canyon has nailed the component choices.

As one of the biggest brands, it’s at the front of the line for the best parts in times of supply issues, and by selling direct to the customer and delivering in a cardboard box, its prices are roughly 25 per cent better value than shop-bought rivals.

Highlights include stiff and strong DT Swiss freeride FR 2070 wheels with 30mm-wide (internal) FR 560 rims that are hard to dent and damage. These are shod with arguably the best Maxxis tyre combination – a 3C MaxxGrip-compound Assegai up front and faster-rolling MaxxTerra Minion DHR II at the rear, with EXO+ and DD casings, respectively.

The choice of Maxxis front and rear tyres is spot-on.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

The trade-off for the strong wheels is more weight to lug uphill, and the workhorse drivetrain and brakes weigh marginally more than pricier kit, too.

However, Shimano’s SLX kit is perfectly sorted and reliable, providing wide-range gearing to winch up the steeps and powerful enough four-piston calipers and Ice-Tech brake pads that really bite on fast descents.

While the Performance-level Fox 38 fork and Float X2 shock have reduced adjustment and a slightly less refined ride quality than the brand’s priciest Elite and Factory kit, you can still add low-speed rebound and compression damping at both ends, via countable-click dials and a sweeping compression knob on top of the oversized fork leg.

Canyon’s own bar, stem and dropper seatpost are well-finished, a sensible shape and function well, plus the bike comes with a bottle cage installed to save you some money.

Canyon Torque 29 AL 6 ride impressions.

Climbing performance

This is not a bike designed primarily for climbing.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

With a frame construction rated ‘Cat 5’ by Canyon, the Torque shares the same bombproof build quality as the Sender DH rig raced at World Cups, which gives you a clue as to the major intentions here. Basically, this thing isn’t designed to win any climbing competitions.

That said, it pedals fine, with minimal bob (no matter which sprocket you’re in on the cassette), smooth turnover and a good seated position, which places your hips over the cranks and never tips your weight too far back, even on the steepest pitches.

Being built like a DH tank, the limiting factor to climbing speed is the Torque AL’s weight. At over 16.5kg, it’s a noticeable chunk of bike to lug uphill for extended periods.

Add to this the designed-to-last wheels being heavy and the sticky/grippy front tyre being painfully slow-rolling on tarmac and smooth fireroads, and climbing can be a bit of a drag. Don’t expect to get anywhere particularly fast uphill or over undulating ground.

This is all typical for the category, although there are a few bikes – such as Propain’s Spindrift – that defy expectations of how sprightly and frisky a super-long-travel enduro mountain bike can pedal and climb. Those bikes are way faster under power and quicker to accelerate than the new Torque.

Descending performance

Point the Torque 29 AL 6 downhill and it really comes into its own.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

With 29in wheels and 170mm of travel, you’d expect Canyon’s rig to thrive downhill with minimal drama and maximum speed, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Pretty much nothing unsettles the wheels on the ground or scrubs the edge off its pace, and the suspension at both ends feels deep and fluid enough to iron out creases on seriously rocky and rooty terrain.

The large size has stacks of stability and a calm ride. It trucks on down everything from raw, loamy enduro tracks littered with natural obstructions and blown-out holes, to faster baked-hard, big-bermed DH or bike-park style terrain.

The suspension is well tuned and not so numbing or isolating that you can’t get a sense of the terrain under the wheels, but if you want to turn off your brain, stand tall, look ahead and let the Torque do its thing, you’ll fire out the exit of tracks of practically any steepness and severity unfazed.

One area where this 29er seriously differs from its predecessor (and, to an extent, from the MX CF Torque) is that it’s definitely not as manoeuvrable or as responsive to sudden inputs of body language – for example, when initiating a lean angle to cut through turns.

It also feels as though the suspension sweet spot keeps your centre of gravity marginally higher than on the old 650b-wheeled Torque.

Both these factors mean it sits marginally higher through turns and flat corners, and it isn’t as easy to load the chassis in the mid-stroke to switch direction, pump hollows or bounce back off the rear end for extra acceleration in the apex of turns.

Smooth arcs, rather than acute angles, are the way to maintain speed, then, and the whole bike feels soft, forgiving and smooth rather than taut and springy.

Testing the latest carbon Torque earlier in the year, the frame felt absolutely bombproof, but transmitted a lot of terrain feedback through hands and feet. This isn’t the case here.

This may be a consequence of the alloy frame being better-damped, the bigger rear wheel, or the different shock and fork feeling slightly less supportive – it’s hard to say.

The Fox Float X2 damper now attaches directly to the seatstay tip.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

What is clear, though, is that there’s less of the harshness and sense of a slightly fatiguing, rattly, vibration-laden ride apparent on the beefier carbon chassis.

Instead, the AL rides silently, even through the roughest sections and with puncture-defying higher tyre pressures, despite its lower-tier suspension.

This might make it the better latest-generation Torque to take somewhere such as the Alps or your local bike park for non-stop, hand-wrecking, arm pump-inducing uplift laps.

How does the Canyon Torque 29 AL 6 compare to rivals?

Canyon is right on the money with the new Torque when it comes to pricing and spec.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

As a 650b-wheeled bike-park rig, Canyon’s previous-generation Torque had a unique, distinct set of attributes that saw it rule on jumps and man-made features, fizzing over with energy and tautness.

This new model is totally sorted, but being smooth and composed, rather than super-agile, it fails to transcend the crowded marketplace of similarly capable long-travel enduro rigs.

It’s still a sorted package, though, and you can’t argue with the price or spec here.

It’s unlike two long-travel chameleons in this category that balance super-enduro capability with a taut, responsive ride quality; Propain’s Spindrift and the Evil Wreckoning – the German bike blending high-speed enduro smoothness with corner-slicing attitude, and the latter popping and hopping off every trail feature more like the previous-generation Torque.

Canyon Torque 29 Al 6 bottom line

Solid is very much the defining word for the Torque 29 AL 6.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

A solid package in every sense of the word, Canyon’s Torque AL 6 has got your back in the gnarliest terrain, pedals well and has great kit.

It’s a tad heavy and doesn’t quite have the taut, responsive attitude of the MX CF version, though, or that bike’s ability to encourage flicking off every little rise, lip and berm.

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8 Tips For Touring Antelope Canyon

According to local legend, Antelope Canyon was discovered by a young girl while tending her sheep. Regardless of how and when it was discovered, it is no doubt one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the United States. Formed by water over millions of years, reddish-brown Navajo sandstone gracefully bends and curves as it stretches through one and a half miles of slot canyons just outside of Page, Arizona.

Opened to the public in 1997, Antelope Canyon has become one of the most popular attractions in northern Arizona, attracting over one million visitors a year. And for photographers, it’s become a bucket list destination. Supposedly, professional photographer Peter Lik sold a photo of Antelope Canyon for $6.5 million. And while that story can’t be verified, it underscores the popularity of this otherworldly site and the thousands of ways it can be captured by camera. 

It’s important to plan your trip to Antelope Canyon carefully, so here are eight tips to make the most of your visit.

Note: My husband and I had the chance to tour Antelope Canyon recently thanks to Hyatt Place Page/Lake Powell and Ken’s Tours, but all opinions are my own.

1. Getting To Antelope Canyon

Located on Navajo Nation land, Antelope Canyon is east of Page, Arizona, just a bit south of the Utah border. The closest international airports are Las Vegas McCarran International or Phoenix Sky Harbor in Arizona — each about a 4 and 1-half hour drive to Page. Public transportation is limited in the area, so it’s recommended to have your own car or rent one at the airport.

Sun beams shining into Upper Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona.
Upper Antelope Canyon (Photo Credit: Jay Yuan /

2. Know The Difference Between Upper And Lower Antelope Canyon

There are actually two parts to Antelope Canyon; upper and lower, and each requires separate tour bookings. Be sure to consider in advance which one you’d like to see and plan accordingly.

The most famous photos come from the upper canyon, so photographers will likely choose this option. Due to the shape of this canyon — wider at the bottom like an inverted “V” — the sun often appears as beams of light jutting through the sandstone and onto the canyon floor. And it’s in the upper canyon where photography tours can be arranged. There are five approved tour companies for the upper canyon, all of which are more expensive than tours for the lower canyon. 

We had the opportunity to tour lower Antelope Canyon, and while not as photographically famous, it is still spectacular. It also tends to be a bit less crowded. Here you’ll see tourists happy to snap pictures with their iPhones. It is also twice as long as the upper canyon, giving visitors plenty of time to enjoy this natural wonder.

Lower Antelope Canyon does require climbing down five flights of very steep stairs at the start of the tour. Anyone with limited mobility — or a fear of heights — may not want to select this option. 

3. Book Your Tour In Advance

Since both canyons are located on the Navajo Nation land, they can only be visited with an approved tour company. There are five such companies for the upper canyon and just two for the lower. Prices range from $50 to $100 per person with discounts available for children and military members. Some upper canyon companies also offer discounts for “non-peak” times of day.

We had the opportunity to visit lower Antelope Canyon with Ken’s Tours and had a great experience. Currently, group sizes cannot exceed seven people, yet we were fortunate to just have four. For this company, it’s strongly encouraged to arrive 30 minutes prior to the start of the tour which gives ample time to grab a snack and browse the gift shop.

Tours to both parts of Antelope Canyon book far in advance especially during peak seasons — late spring and early fall. As soon as you’ve scheduled your travel time, be sure to make your reservations. 

Lower Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona.
Lower Antelope Canyon (Photo Credit: Wendy Lee)

4. For The Best Photos, Come At The Right Time

Any photographer knows the importance of good lighting, and that certainly applies during a visit to Antelope Canyon. Each canyon has an optimal time for photos, which varies depending on the time of year. In general, mid-day (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) between the months of March and October is the best time to photograph these slots, with the shafts of light shining down from the openings above. For more specific information, contact your tour company prior to making a reservation. Our tour was at 11 a.m. and I found the light to be great using both my iPhone and digital camera. 

Pro Tip: If you’re planning to use a digital camera, do a bit of research prior to your trip about recommended camera settings. At the start, I was disappointed that the color of the sandstone was not accurately reflected in my photos. Our guide was able to assist me, and they improved, but I wished I had been a bit more prepared instead of scrambling to remember how my camera worked.

Lower Antelope Canyon from above near Page, Arizona.
Lower Antelope Canyon from above (Photo Credit: Wendy Lee)

5. Understand How The Weather May Impact Your Tour

The canyons are located in the desert, and as a result, high heat and flash floods can be a problem. In the event of rain, the tours are canceled for everyone’s safety. But tours do continue during the summer months when it can get very hot. During the peak of summer, you may consider an early morning tour. July is the hottest month in the area, so this may not be the ideal time to visit.

6. Consider The Limitations Of This Experience

I had high expectations for my visit to lower Antelope Canyon, and they were exceeded. This really was an incredible experience that I highly recommend. However, this may not be for everyone. If you have a fear of heights, I’d recommend the upper canyon. Anyone who is claustrophobic should also proceed cautiously. At points, the chambers of both slot canyons are very narrow. Once in the canyon, there is no quick and easy exit. Also, the floors of both canyons are sand, so they are not accessible for wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, etc. You will need to be able to walk at least a half-mile for the upper canyon and over a mile for the lower canyon. 

No purses or backpacks can be brought into the canyons with the exception of baby carriers. You are permitted to bring cameras, cell phones, and water. If you have questions about bringing young children, I’d suggest contacting the tour company directly before making reservations. 

Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona.
Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona (Photo Credit: silky /

7. Combine This Tour With Nearby Sights

For me, just seeing Antelope Canyon would make the trip to Page, Arizona, worth it. But it would be a shame to leave the area without enjoying a few other sights. The region of northern Arizona and southern Utah is full of national and state parks and monuments that are well worth exploring.

This was my second trip to Page, so I’ve had ample opportunity to explore the area. Here are a few of the sights I’d recommend seeing before or after Antelope Canyon.

Horseshoe Bend: This famous bend in the Colorado River has become a well-recognized sight on Instagram. I recommend avoiding the crowds and coming at sunrise — the light over the desert early in the morning is great for photos.

Glen Canyon Dam: Rising 710 feet above the Colorado River, this dam provides for the water and power needs of millions of people in the West. I recommend heading to the Glen Canyon Dam Observation Point to appreciate the engineering feat of the dam along with the steep and colorful walls of the canyon.

Toadstools Trail: About 30 minutes North of Page — in Utah — is a short trail to a unique rock formation that looks like giant toadstools. At just 1.5 miles roundtrip, this pet-friendly trail is great for families.

Within 2 and 1-half hours are three national parks; Grand Canyon (South Rim), Bryce Canyon, and Zion. Consider planning a road trip through Utah and Arizona to combine these experiences.

8. Stay For A While In Page, Arizona

A 2-night stay in Page will give you the time to explore all the area has to offer. I’ve been fortunate to stay at the Hyatt Place Page/Lake Powell twice and definitely recommend it. Reserve a room with a canyon view and enjoy a colorful sunset over the desert. A hot breakfast is included. Packages are available that combine the room and Antelope Canyon tour.

While I’d seen hundreds of photos of Antelope Canyon prior to our visit, it was even more beautiful in person. The varying sandstone formations and the changing light created endless surprises. I look forward to the chance to return and explore these canyons further.

Check out other dynamic areas in Arizona:

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10 Key Ranger Tips For Visiting The Grand Canyon

Nobody knows the Grand Canyon like the park rangers who work there. Fortunately, if you’re thinking about a trip to Grand Canyon National Park, you can now use their insider knowledge to make sure your trip goes smoothly.

“With a busy summer season upon us, we want everyone to have a positive park experience,” the National Park Service (NPS) explains. “Advanced trip planning can ensure that your only surprises are pleasant ones.”

In that spirit, as part of its “Plan Your Vacation Like A Park Ranger” series, the NPS has released its “Top 10 Tips for Visiting Grand Canyon.” These tips explain how rangers themselves plan a trip to Grand Canyon National Park.

So, let’s get to it. Here are Grand Canyon park rangers’ vacation-planning tips.

1. Know Before You Go

It’s always a good idea to do as much trip planning in advance as possible. It’s even more important this year because temporary closures and modified operations are in place at the park.

To be prepared, be sure to check the Park Operations Update for information about fire restrictions and public health measures such as capacity limits and face mask/covering requirements. There is even up-to-date information about road conditions, entrance fees, and closures.

Pro Tip: The NPS App provides interactive maps, tours of park places, and on-the-ground accessibility information about more than 400 national parks to make your trip planning easier. The free app is available for iOS and Android devices.

2. Know Where You Will Spend The Night

Grand Canyon is one of the most-visited national parks in the United States. It comes as no surprise then that park campgrounds and lodging both fill up months in advance. With that in mind, it is imperative to reserve a place to stay before you arrive at the park.

You can check here to begin planning where you’ll spend the night when visiting the Grand Canyon.

Pro-Tip: Camping in the park is only allowed in designated sites within designated campgrounds. It is not permitted along roadsides, overlooks, pullouts, trailheads, or other parking areas.

3. Pack Your Patience

National parks are experiencing extremely high numbers of visitors this year, so expect crowds and traffic. To make your visit a little smoother, rangers recommend arriving before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. If you arrive at the South Rim Entrance Station between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., rangers say you can expect to wait in line for up to 2 hours just to enter the park.

Pro-Tip: Buy your park pass online in advance to reduce wait times. Also, remember that cash is not accepted at entrance stations.

4. Drive Responsibly

Let’s face it: If you’re planning on crowds and traffic, you also know it will be challenging to find a parking space. For instance, rangers note that parking lots around Visitor Center Plaza are usually filled by noon.

Parking will be especially challenging if you drive an RV that is over 22 feet long or if you drive a vehicle with a trailer and need a pull-through space. To find a good parking space for an RV or vehicle with a trailer, rangers suggest arriving at the South Rim before 9 a.m.

Pro-Tip: Use this map to find the three RV parking lots at the South Rim.

5. Shuttle Bus Routes Are Limited

Keep in mind that shuttle bus passenger capacity is limited to 31 people. Also, passengers will only be able to enter and exit the bus through the rear door. And of course, masks or face coverings are required on the bus for all passengers.

Take note, this summer, the Village Route, Westbound Kaibab Rim Route, and Tusayan Route are not in operation. 

Pro-Tip: Prepare to be patient and expect crowds on shuttle buses.

6. Pets Are Not Allowed Below The Canyon Rim

We all love our pets and enjoy traveling with them. However, dogs and other pets are not allowed on inner canyon trails, even when carried, for two good reasons. First, the trails are narrow and well-traveled. Hikers, runners, or wildlife can surprise pets, causing an accident that nobody wants to see. Secondly, the temperature increases dramatically below the canyon rim, which is dangerous for pets.

More information about taking your pet to the Grand Canyon may be found here.

7. Keep Wildlife Wild

Rangers note that people have been injured by squirrels, bison, deer, and elk, so they warn visitors to stay away from wildlife. Bison, deer, and elk are large, so the warning is understandable — but squirrels? Yes. Rangers explain that bites on the hand from squirrels are the most common wildlife injury experienced by visitors. 

“Their sharp teeth crack nuts — and cut fingers,” rangers explain. “Bite injuries often require stitches. Please protect yourself and don’t feed or water squirrels.”

Pro Tip: To safely take pictures of wildlife, rangers use the “rule of thumb.” Here’s how to do it: Hold your thumb up and out at arm’s length. If you can cover the entire wild animal with your thumb, you’re probably a safe distance away.

8. Backcountry Permits Are Required For All Overnight Trips

A backcountry permit is required if you plan to camp anywhere that is not a developed campground on the South Rim or the North Rim. Rangers explain that it is possible to “just show up at the Backcountry Information Center and get on a waiting list for any last-minute permits that could become available due to cancellations.”

Pro-Tip: Chances of securing a backcountry permit are higher if you are flexible about dates and locations of campgrounds.

9. Canyon Hikers Must Prepare For Excessive Heat

Summer temperatures inside the canyon can easily exceed 115 degrees. Unfortunately, unprepared hikers experience severe illness, injury, or even death from hiking in the canyon in the dangerous heat every summer.

If you plan to hike below the rim, rangers recommend planning so you do not hike between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. More tips for summer hiking can be found here.

10. Protect Yourself — And Others

When visiting the Grand Canyon, take precautions to stay safe. Rangers urge visitors to stay on designated trails and walkways — and always stay at least 6 feet from the edge of the canyon rim. Also, do not climb over any protective railings or fences. 

Secondly, even though COVID-19 vaccination rates are climbing across the country, rangers ask that you do not visit the park if you are sick. Face masks/coverings are required on public transportation, but otherwise, masks are only required for non-vaccinated or partially vaccinated people. However, rangers do advise keeping a distance of at least 6 feet away from other people.
Now that you know how rangers would prepare for a trip to the Grand Canyon, you can start planning your own vacation. And for more information and tips, be sure to check out all of our Grand Canyon coverage.

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Joseph D. Mount Was Charged For Organizing a Hike of More Than 150 people to the Grand Canyon.

The organizer of a Grand Canyon adventure described it as a chance to trek along the South Rim, “one of the greatest hikes in the planet.”

By September, at least 100 people from 12 different states had signed up on Facebook for the one-day hike. The organizer, Joseph Don Mount, said on Facebook he hoped more people would sign up for the hike.

“If you want to keep inviting friends, I am determined to make this work for as many who want to go,” Mr. Mount said, according to federal court documents.

A tipster sent the Facebook post to officials at the Grand Canyon National Park, where hikes had been limited to no more than 11 people per group in response to the pandemic.

When a park official contacted Mr. Mount, he denied that he was planning a large-scale trip.

Yet, he continued to advertise the hike and to organize cabin stays and shuttle rides for dozens of people, according to court documents. By Oct. 24, the day of the hike, more than 150 people had paid $95 to register for the trip, the documents show.

That morning, at least 150 people showed up the North Kaibab Trail, astounding rangers and overwhelming other visitors who struggled to steer clear of the hikers, many of whom were not wearing masks or social distancing, according to the documents.

On Tuesday, Mr. Mount was charged in the U.S. District Court in Arizona with five separate counts, including giving a false report, interfering with a government employee or agent acting in an official duty, soliciting business in a federal park without a permit, and violating restrictions for group sizes for park visits and restrictions related to Covid-19.

Mr. Mount did not immediately return messages seeking comment. It was unclear from federal court records whether he had a lawyer.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Mr. Mount said he had arranged the trip because “with Covid and everything, people were just itching to get out.”

“I didn’t do it for profit,” he said.

Timothy Hopp, a U.S. park ranger, said in an affidavit that Mr. Mount collected $15,185 from participants for the hiking event.

Mr. Mount planned to use the money to pay for two buses, three passenger vans, hotel lodging and about $2,900 for the drivers’ tips, meals, fuel, car pool drivers and other expenses, according to the affidavit.

Mr. Mount “knowingly profited from leading this commercially organized” event, Mr. Hopp said. “J. Mount admitted he would be receiving a net profit of $65.11 and it would be enough to buy a new pair of hiking poles.”

Mr. Hopp said he contacted Mr. Mount in October after receiving the tip, and Mr. Mount told him at the time that he was taking a “small group of close rugby associates and family friends.”

Mr. Hopp said he repeatedly told Mr. Mount that the limit for group tours of the rim were 11 people and that groups could not be split up to circumvent the size limit because of the pandemic.

Mr. Mount’s planned hike exceeded the limit set even during normal times, when up to 30 people are allowed in a group, Mr. Hopp said.

After the conversation, Mr. Mount told hikers that he was backing down as trip leader but said the transportation plans remained in place and cabins and hotels were still booked.

“Remember — there is nothing stopping you from hiking the Grand Canyon on this day,” he wrote, according to court documents. “However, there is now a target on my back and this is the best way I know to still hike” and “not be tied to any of you.”

He told the hikers he would be in his own group and advised them to travel in groups of no more than 11 people.

“Ranger Hopp — this is my plausible deniability,” Mr. Mount wrote on Facebook. “I am no longer leading a group through Grand Canyon on 10/24.”

At 5 a.m. that day, a caravan of cars arrived at the trailhead. A ranger on the trail saw at least 150 people walk through the area between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m.

The ranger, Cody Allinson, said that in seven months of work he had never seen “so many individuals traveling in the same direction in such a condensed period of time and space,” according to the affidavit.

When park rangers approached them, many hikers were evasive.

“It was obvious they had been coached not to identify with their fellow participants,” one ranger said, according to court documents.

Hikers who were not with the group later complained to the park service about the sheer number of people they encountered on the trail.

“There was no social distancing, nobody was wearing masks,” one of the visitors complained, according to court documents. “The group size was way out of control,”

The day after the hike, some of the participants praised Mr. Mount on Facebook and suggested everyone send him a “bonus for all the extra hard work he did planning a weekend of memories.”

It was not clear from the affidavit whether Mr. Mount received the bonus.

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Grand Canyon National Park Needs Hunters To Help Reduce Bison Population

Bison may be a popular attraction at national parks, but a herd at Grand Canyon National Park has simply grown too large for the park’s resources. To reduce the park’s bison population by 200, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and the National Park Service (NPS) have announced they will conduct controlled bison hunts inside Grand Canyon National Park this fall.

The problem is that since bison can be hunted on the adjacent national forest, they have quit roaming and — essentially — made their home in the Grand Canyon, according to an Associated Press report. As a result, the bison create ruts in meadows, spoil ponds and rivers, and even trample archaeological sites, NPS reports.

“Areas are really taking a hit,” Alicyn Gitlin, Grand Canyon Program Manager for the Sierra Club’s Arizona Chapter, told USA Today. “Twenty years ago, I remember going up to the North Rim and just being overwhelmed with the beauty of all these wildflowers and meadows and rare plants. When I went back … it was heartbreaking to me because everything looked like a cow pasture.”

A Growing Herd

In the early 1900s, 86 bison were introduced to northern Arizona as part of a ranching operation to crossbreed them with cattle, NPS explains. 

The NPS has conducted aerial surveys and estimates there are now somewhere between 400 to 600 bison — and the herd could grow to as many as 1,200 to 1,500 within 10 years. The problem, however, is that while the herd had been migrating between the Kaibab Plateau and the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, they have essentially stayed in the national park since 2009.

Put simply, a herd of that size staying in one place is destructive to the area. First, as bison activity increases, it causes soil disruption, NPS explains. Soil disruption not only allows exotic species to be introduced to the area, but it also limits the growth and diversity of native plant species.

Secondly, drinking water in Grand Canyon National Park comes from Roaring Springs, which is fed by rain and snowmelt on the North Rim. NPS research has identified increased levels of E. coli bacteria in standing water associated with bison grazing areas.  

Park archeologists have also found significant threats to culturally rich areas. That’s because the herds “trample through archeological sites causing damage to artifacts and cultural features found on the surface and buried underground,” NPS explains.

Reducing The Bison Population

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and the National Park Service are already creating a pool of 25 qualified applicants to hunt the bison. Then, from that pool, 12 people will be chosen by random lottery to participate in the hunts this fall. Applicants can head here.

It should be pointed out that hunting bison is not the only way to reduce the population. The park has also held two successful live capture and relocation operations and has transferred 88 bison through the InterTribal Buffalo Council to five different tribes in four different states. Park management expects to continue yearly live capture and relocation operations until bison population reduction goals are met.

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A virtual bike travel film festival, a Grand Canyon train adventure, and a pizza oven you can take on the road

Get your ski passes now

Young adults who buy a season pass for Waterville Valley Resort this spring can enjoy unlimited skiing and snowboarding for the rest of the season and next year. The Young Adult Pass gives skiers and snowboarders 18 to 29 years old unrestricted access to the resort — meaning no blackout periods — for the remainder of the 2020/21 season and for the 2021/22 season if purchased by April 30 ($532 per person). Buy an Adult Plus Pass ($942) through April 30 and you’ll get a Kids Ski Free Pass for one child 6-12 years old, unlimited access to Snow Mountain’s lift this summer, and 20 percent off lodging at Town Square Condos and the Silver Fox Inn. 800-GO-VALLEY,


Rent a train at the Grand Canyon

Finding a fun way to celebrate a milestone event can be tricky these days, but the Grand Canyon Railway has options for travelers seeking an adventure. Rent a luxury private train — complete with chefs, bartenders, entertainers, and waitstaff — and bring your family or those in your “pandemic pod” to ride the rails. The train has luxury cars from the 1940s and 1950s, including a dome/sleeper car, two open-air observation cars, and two parlor/café and lounge cars. Book anywhere from one to five railcars and welcome up to 200 guests (on the full train) thanks to the generous amount of interior space. Depart at 9:30 a.m. from Williams, Ariz. — just 2.5 hours from Phoenix — and enjoy a 65-mile roundtrip journey, stopping for a 2.5-hour layover at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and arriving back in Williams at 5:45 p.m. Add stops along the way for a chuck wagon dinner, live entertainment, or sleepover. Rates start at $10,000 for one railcar, $16,000 for the entire train. 800-843-8724,

Black Tie offers easy ski rentals

Heading west for a spring break or late-winter ski trip? Keep it simple and rent gear for when you get there. Black Tie ski rental provides ski and snowboard delivery to your local accommodations (at a time designated by you), a personalized fitting, and free gear exchange even midday on the mountain (they’ll come to you). Another bonus: The ski technician who delivers your gear serves as a local ambassador, providing helpful info on the area’s snow conditions, trails, restaurants, and worthwhile sites. At trip’s end, Black Tie will swing by and scoop up your gear — couldn’t be easier. You’ll find 16 individually owned and operated Black Tie locations throughout the West, from Colorado to California. Some carry niche ski brands, such as Icelantic, Black Crows, and Never Summer skis, while others have heated boots available. All gear gets disinfected between customers and delivered to you in a sanitized bag, and all staff adhere to mask and social-distancing guidelines. The service includes a paperless waiver system and a full refund up to 48 hours prior to your rental. Rent skis/snowboards, boots, helmets, and poles for all ages. Gear rentals start at $48 per person, per day (depending on location) for an adult package, which includes skis, poles, and boots.


A portable outdoor pizza oven

Gather outdoors and share homemade pizza made in the Ooni Fyra 12 portable pizza oven. This ingenious wood pellet oven heats to 950 degrees Fahrenheit in 15 minutes and cooks a pizza in 60 seconds — 90 seconds for a frozen pizza. The Ooni Fyra packs small for storage — it has foldable legs and two detachable chimneys that stow inside the oven — yet it sets up in seconds. Place the oven on a sturdy table — ideally a stone, stainless steel, or marble surface (we like Ooni’s secure and stylish modular table) — feed a scoop or two of hardwood pellets into the hopper, fire them up, and use Ooni’s infrared thermometer to track the oven temp. Assemble your pizza on one of Ooni’s 12-inch aluminum or bamboo peels, slip the pizza in the oven — placing it on the hot pizza stone — and it will be done before you can pour the drinks. Use the peep hole on the oven door to monitor the fire and pellet supply, and adjust the flow of air using the chimney vent. Ooni makes propane pizza ovens, too. $299 Fyra; $199.99-$249.99 table; $39.99 infrared thermometer.

Java on the go

If you’re a coffee lover, consider bringing the new Pocket PourOver bags on your next adventure. Kuju Coffee, founded by two San Francisco Eagle Scout brothers, creates these single-serving coffee bags that tip the scales on responsible products. Each bag contains organic, Fair Trade-certified coffee — or ethically sourced blends — and gets packaged in a 100 percent wind-powered facility. To top it off, the company donates a portion of its sales to the US National Park Service. Choose from West Sumatra, Papua New Guinea, and Ethiopia varieties or several creative blends, including Angel’s Landing (a light roast), Basecamp Blend (medium roast), and Bold Awakening (dark roast). To use, tear open the top of each perforated filter, unfold the cardboard “wings” and gently anchor the filter to your mug, pour hot water over the coffee grounds and wait for the coffee to brew. Purchase a 10-pack starting at $21.99 up to a 60-pack at $149.40.


Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at

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NASA Releases Stunning New Photos of Mars’ ‘Grand Canyon’

NASA Releases Stunning New Photos of Mars’ ‘Grand Canyon’ | Travel + Leisure

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