Park closes trail to search for hiker gone two months

Park officials closed the 49 Palms Oasis Trail to search for Paul Miller, a 51-year-old Canadian man missing since July 13.

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK — Park officials closed the 49 Palms Oasis Trail from sunset Monday to noon Tuesday so searchers could look for Paul Miller, a 51-year-old Canadian man missing since July 13.

A helicopter crew flew over the area where Miller told his wife he would be hiking when he left their hotel room after breakfast, around 9 a.m. July 13.

When he hadn’t returned by noon, his wife, Stephanie Miller, became concerned and alerted park rangers.

Rangers started a search immediately, and eventually up to 90 people on the ground, six search dogs, an all-terrain vehicle and a helicopter crew joined the hunt for Miller. No sign of the missing tourist was found besides his rental car, which was left in the parking lot of the 49 Palms trailhead, inside the park from an entrance in Twentynine Palms. 

July 13 was the final day of the anniversary trip the Millers, an Ontario couple married 26 years, had taken to the American West. They visited Bryce Canyon, Zion and Grand Canyon before capping off their trip at Joshua Tree National Park.

They had meant to take the 49 Palms hike together earlier in their visit to Joshua Tree, but it was raining and they postponed it to the final day, Stephanie Miller told reporters.

(2) comments


I think this guy lost himself on purpose and is NOT in the National Park. I've hiked the 49 Palms Oasis trail many times and it's clearly defined and impossible to get lost on.


The couple was scheduled to check out of their hotel room at noon. So Mr. Miller only had a couple of hours to hike. Plus it was hot that day and he didn't leave their hotel until nine am. So it's VERY likely that he took off on a route OTHER THAN the official trail.

The volunteer search teams were thinking along the same lines because they've already canvassed the canyons below the parking area, using quads and climbers. One colorful property owner complained to me that search parties had ignored his "no trespassing" signs and had trampled all over his land.

At this point I think the areas with caves and large boulders should be examined. Someone who was hot or dehydrated might've sought shade inside of them.

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