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Dying at the Grand Canyon Published: July 19, 2014

The Grand Canyon is a safe place to visit. I’d trade the dangers of most highways for the security of a well-mapped hole in the Earth anytime. In the 1990s, the National Park Service reported that there were 43.5 million visitors to the Arizona landmark (that number includes repeat visitors). During the same decade, according to Michael Ghiglieri and Thomas Myers’s immaculately named and encyclopedic account of canyon fatalities, “Over the Edge,” 117 people lost their lives at the canyon. In the 1990s, Mount Everest took half as many lives with a tiny fraction of the number of visitors, FiveThirtyEight reports.

So, there’s little risk for canyon visitors, but have the deaths there really been from people going over the edge? It’s a question born mostly of morbid curiosity, but it has some relevance: We’re in the middle of July, a prime month for summer travel, and — unsurprisingly — people are flocking to the canyon. During the past decade, Grand Canyon National Park has seen an average of 4.4 million visitors annually. And as the chart below shows, July is the peak month for those visitors.

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