“Grand Canyon Woman” Teaches Backpacking to Other Women

If you’re a woman interested in learning the skills of backpacking, Denise Traver has the decades of experience to teach them to you. For the past 30 years, the Grand Canyon park ranger has specialized in backpacking and sharing her passion for the activity with other people, especially women. In 2007, Traver was one of the women featured in the book, Grand Canyon Women: Lives Shaped by Landscape, by Betty Leavengood. Traver established a special program, with the encouragement of the Grand Canyon Field Institute, to help women learn the intricacies of backpacking and hiking.

The 59-year-old Traver, who began serious backpacking and hiking in the 1980s, became a backcountry ranger at Grand Canyon’s Cottonwood Camp in 1990 after obtaining certification in law enforcement and emergency medical technology. Following a couple years at Cottonwood—where she met her husband, Brad (a park engineer and project manager)—she took a naturalist position at Phantom Ranch. There, she presented nature programs in the afternoon and evening and lived in the ranger station at the canyon bottom.

Traver has long shared her backpacking and hiking knowledge with men, women, and children on the trails of the Grand Canyon—especially after she was hired as an instructor by the Grand Canyon Association. As she began working in this position, Brad became a superintendent at Petrified Forest. She realized the need for a special program for women when she noticed many cases of men trying the teach backpacking skills to their wives and girlfriends. In particular, she noticed that men tend to have different priorities than women regarding backpacking and hiking.

Related:  Grand Canyon National Park Set to Reopen Trails and Campground on April 15, 2024

“Women are strong hikers, but they have to go at their own pace. Women like to see things and learn things. It isn’t about how fast they got there, like men,” she said. Such insights allow Traver to provide the type of instruction that most women find very useful and practical.

In addition to her Grand Canyon ranger duties and backpacking instruction, Traver works as a webmaster for several businesses and organizations in the area, such as the Arizona Nordic Village, the Museum Association of the Petrified Forest, and the Friends of the Petrified Forest. She also maintains her own website about hiking and backpacking at: http://www.hitthetrail.com.