To Jump or Not to Jump the Grand Canyon


"On August 27, 1968, a UPI release reported that permission had been denied for the long awaited vault of the Grand Canyon by one Evel Knievel astride a motorcycle.

Along with many others, I am disconsolate that we should be denied the type of diversion so pacific to rioting in the streets, general unrest and political chaos.

It is shocking that we have come to a point that "The Impossible Dream" of one man must be shattered by the custodians of the Abyss of Bliss in Northern Arizona without just cause being stated or any right to appeal being offered."

C. Jones
Evel Knievel Booster Club Chairman
Scottsdale, Arizona, September 1968

Dear Secretary of the Interior Udall: 

It has been brought to my attention that an individual will attempt to jump a rocket powered motorcycle across the Grand Canyon. To perform this feat, it will require the building of an access road and ramp on the very rim of the canyon.These encroachments in the park appear to be quite unjustified.

It is my opinion that no one has the right to use these lands for their own personal benefit other than that which they may feel upon viewing this marval. It would be a prostitution of the land and would entail that anyone could use the park for whatever hair-brained idea they may come up with to further their own notoriety or financial gain.

 What is being risked, certainly, is more than the thrill of watching a man risk his life, it is the very integrity of the Department of the Interior. The Grand Canyon is no carnaval site, nor should it be allowed to be used as such.

This particular event is set for Labor Day, but the construction of the road and the ramp is to begin within a week or so. Action must be forth coming immediately before this construction is allowed to proceed.

Speaking as an individual, an American, I deplore this encroachment upon our park system, and one of the world's truely great wonders; speaking as President of the International Explorational Society, I condemn it. Action must come from the department now.

I remain a servant to the cause of conservation and to the conservation of our parks as they are presently. I will be anxiously awaiting your reply to this pressing matter.

Raymond E. Waters
International Explorational Society
Maimi, Florida, March 19,1967

To Visit the Official Evel Knievel "HAPPY LANDINGS" Website CLICK HERE

Robbie Knievel Jumps Grand Canyon
Thursday May 20, 1999

Canyon added to Knievel's list
Motorcyclist leaps 200-plus feet

By Mark Shaffer, The Arizona Republic
May 21, 1999, GRAND CANYON WEST 

OK, so he really didn't jump over the Grand Canyon.

It was just 150 feet between the two ramps over a drainage ditch of the big hole, not even important enough to be given a name on local topographical maps.

"This is barely a wash in this country," chuckled Hualapai tribal member Allan Smith.

And Robbie Knievel wouldn't have plunged 2,000 feet to his death, as breathless Fox network broadcasters told a nationwide audience as Knievel revved his motorcycle's 500 cc engine for the big moment. Maybe 75 feet and change.

Nonetheless, Knievel showed some major intestinal fortitude as he broke 80 mph down the takeoff ramp, soared 40 feet in the air, flew well over 200 feet and came down hard, laying the bike down.

He went skidding into cactuses and bales of hay before coming to a painful stop.

After five nervous minutes, friends helped Knievel limp gingerly back to the ramp. He gave a weak thumbs-up to cheering supporters.

"I'm a little dingy in the head," he told reporters as Fox television cameras rolled. "I don't know what's going on. Thank you, Jesus, I'm still alive."

Then, another smile. Hey, Robbie, White man can jump!" yelled Dean Wilder, a tribal security guard at this isolated visitors center and airstrip on the Canyon's south rim.

Knievel grimaced and was helped slowly to the ground. He was loaded onto a stretcher and flown by helicopter to a Las Vegas hospital. Jump sponsors refused to talk about his medical condition.

But actor Dan Haggerty, of Grizzly Adams fame, a close friend of Knievel's who rushed to his side, said his injuries are nothing major.

"He yelled, 'Oh, man!' because that grade beyond the landing area was so rough. And he went tumbling away from his bike," Haggerty said. "He told me he thought he had pulled some muscles in his back and maybe sprained his ankle."

About 1,000 people came to the site at the far west end of the Canyon, about 80 miles southeast of Las Vegas as the crow flies. The only access is on a rough, narrow, winding dirt road through a forest of Joshua trees.

Fifty of Knievel's closest friends made the trip in recreational vehicles and set up "Knievel's Kamp" on a mesa above the jump site.

Chuck Havatone, a human services worker for the Hualapais, said he was very skeptical that the jump would ever come off.

"The cross wind was gusting up to 35 mph and most people thought he would call it off again," said Havatone, who had came to the site for Knievel's jump April 29, when snow, winds and poor visibility forced him to postpone the stunt three weeks.

"Most of the people who were there then didn't come back," he said. "But you have to hand it to him. This took a lot of guts."

David and Jan Murphy, who drove up from Corpus Christi, Texas, said it was definitely the coolest thing they'd ever seen.

David Murphy said it even beat the thrill of piloting his tugboat as a hurricane approached in the Gulf of Mexico.

"I give that man more than a 10, especially on style and technique," he said. "It was just fantastic."

Jan Murphy said she was overcome by the moment, falling to the ground when Knievel did.

"I gave out a big whoop when I saw Robbie get back on his feet," she said.

Despite the hype, Haggerty said he didn't think the jump was as difficult as Knievel's February jump of 130 feet between towers of the Jockey Club in Las Vegas, 13 stories up.

"It was wet that night and he really had to work it to keep from crashing into the elevator shaft on the other side of the landing ramp," he said.

Knievel, 37, has been jumping motorcycles for 26 years. He jumped over the Ceasars Palace fountain in 1988 and 30 limousines last year, as well as recording a 223-foot jump in St. Louis. He appeared to beat that Thursday.

Knievel Jumps Grand Canyon
MAY 21, 1999 --- 05:42 EDT

 By Michelle Rushlo, Associated Press

Robbie Knievel had room to spare.

The motorcycle daredevil easily cleared a sliver of the Grand Canyon on Thursday, traveling 228 feet to break his own world record by 5 feet. Fireworks erupted and a crowd of several hundred cheered as he soared over the 200-foot-wide gorge at 90 mph on an ordinary 500cc motorcycle.

If he failed, Knievel risked plunging 2,500 feet to the canyon floor on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, west of Grand Canyon National Park.

Knievel, 37, wiped out in a cloud of dust after the jump, but didn't appear to have suffered any serious injury.

"I'm wiped out in the head a little,'' Knievel said.

The jump was televised live by Fox on the East Coast for tape-delay airing later in the rest of the country. Knievel's previous record was set in Panama City, Fla., in the early 1990s.

Knievel was going to attempt the same jump on April 29 but it was canceled at the last minute because of wind and cold. Knievel said his daredevil father, Evel Knievel � recovering from a recent liver transplant � had wanted to jump the Grand Canyon but never got the chance.

The younger Knievel achieved notoriety in April 1989 by jumping the fountains at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, a stunt that nearly killed his father 21 years earlier.
Knievel would not say how much Fox paid him.

"You're talking about one of the seven wonders of the world, and I want to do it,'' Knievel said earlier this week. "Everyone has a calling, has to make a living. I'm not trying to kill myself.''


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