Family remembers experienced Utah hiker killed after flash flooding in Bryce Canyon

Sep 1, 2023, 8:56 AM

BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Utah — A 64-year-old hiker was found dead in Bryce Canyon National Park, hours after checking in with her family Friday afternoon.

The National Park Service is looking into whether Jeanne Howell was swept away by flash flooding. Her family is reminding others that even for experienced hikers, incidents like this can happen.

“She was always very conscious, very responsible. That’s what makes this so tragic,” said Benjamin Howell, Jeanne’s son. “With the safety measures she put in place, she would be so mad at this.”

Jeanne Howell, 64. (Howell family)

Howell and his family still can’t comprehend losing their mother like this. He said she was an avid, experienced hiker who had completed the Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon many times before.

“She also climbed Kilimanjaro, she climbed all of the 14ers in Colorado,” he said. “During the pandemic, she decided she wanted to hike as many miles as there was in the year. So in 2020 she hiked 2,020 miles I think by Oct. 1.”

On Friday, she messaged the family group chat from Bryce Canyon letting them know she was starting on the trail.

“She said, ‘I am starting my hike, everything is OK’ and then she sent five pictures of her hiking,” Howell said.

She planned to do the trail alone, which she had done many times before, showing her exact location on an app shared with family.

“She would usually check in with us every hour on the hour,” Howell said. “But at 2:02 p.m. is when it looks like she got swept away, and I don’t know how prepared you can be.”

Rescuers were able to find Howell’s body a mile east of the trail. Her family is still coming to terms with what happened, encouraging others headed out this Labor Day weekend to check in with loved ones.

“Always check in with your family. Let them know you love them because you never know when it’s going to be the last time. And even if it’s not going to be their last time, just let them know,” Howell said.

Howell’s funeral services will be in Utah on Friday and in Sedona, Arizona, where she currently lived, on Sept. 9.

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Family remembers experienced Utah hiker killed after flash flooding in Bryce Canyon