The National Park Service (NPS) is searching for a missing man and his dog in the Grand Canyon and believes the pair may have launched on the Colorado River on a homemade raft. On April 21, 2024, the NPS located a presumably abandoned Toyota Tacoma belonging to Thomas Lee Robison of Santa Fe, New Mexico, at Lees Ferry, the launch point used for the majority of paddlers embarking on a Grand Canyon river trip. In a press release, the Park Service published images of Robison, 58, and his 11-year-old Welsh corgi, along with a photo of the homemade wooden raft. Neither have been seen as of this writing on April 29.

Thomas Lee Robison and his Welsh corgi. The man and dog are believed missing in the Grand Canyon.
Feature photo: National Park Service

Robison and his corgi missing in the Grand Canyon

Wooden raft Thomas Robison is believed to have taken on Colorado River
The wooden raft Robison may have launched with. | Photo: National Park Service

In an interview with Arizona’s Family (KTVK/KPHO), Grand Canyon National Park Service public affairs officer Joëlle Baird stated Robison did not have a permit to launch on the river. Baird also shared, “This is not a type of watercraft or vessel we would recommend,” in reference to the homemade wooden raft seen in the photo, which appears to be little more than three planks of lumber etched with artistic detail and lashed together with rope.

Along with securing a permit, the Park Service requires all paddlers to carry certain equipment and attend an orientation prior to launching on the river. Other items, including a satellite phone, are recommended by the park. It hasn’t been stated whether it’s believed Robison had any of the required or recommended equipment, or even whether he had adequate technical apparel for the cold water of the Colorado.

In the image, you can see an orange, rectangular Type II life jacket with a single buckle, similar to the type associated with being stowed away on a motorboat. This type of life jacket, while providing ample flotation, does little to stay secure on an individual in the thrashing high-volume rapids of this section of the Colorado River. The Park Service requires paddlers to use a Type I, III or V PFD in the Grand Canyon.

The day Robison’s truck was reported, the Colorado River at Lees Ferry peaked at a volume of 11,400 cubic feet per second (cfs) and has reached over 12,000 cfs each day since—with a water temperature hovering around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The river flow is around average if not below its mean flow this time of year.

Difficulties of rescue in the Grand Canyon

Permits, awarded through a lottery, are required to paddle through the Grand Canyon, both as a means of regulating impact in the corridor, as well as allowing the Park Service to monitor who is currently within the remote 280-mile class IV stretch of the Colorado.

Thomas Lee Robison
Thomas Lee Robison. | Photo: National Park Service

The Park Service receives more than 300 rescue calls a year with a third of these being river users. The rugged and remote nature of the Canyon requires most rescues to be made by helicopter.

Up to 10 trips a day launch from Lees Ferry, which amounts to more than 20,000 paddlers a year. The day Robison’s truck was discovered, around 50 people launched. A similar number the day before and in the days since have embarked on the three-week river trip, and yet there has been no sign of the missing man or his dog in the Grand Canyon.

Robison is described as a white male, 5’10” in height and 160 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes.

Anyone who may have seen Thomas Robison are asked to contact Grand Canyon Dispatch at 928-638-7805.



  1. Did the NPS check further into this guys background? This clearly seems like a situation where a person wants to create the appearance of drowning but clearly may have the intent of using this as a mode to be able to disappear. Life insurance payouts, trying to escape from a larger crime scheme, UA from a military branch of service etc. These are all possible. What does the NPS know about this guy and is this his real identity? Anything that is this questionable has a clear explanation upon further examination. Was he seen by other boating parties? Or was his craft just found? I would think that if some guy floated by on such an insufficient craft someone would have made a report. All the NPS has is his truck at the put in and the remnants of his craft. This is a situation where an outfitter that would have been doing a trip would have at least reported to the NPS. It sounds as if this guy was covert enough to somehow make it appear as if he launched the craft. I doubt he was ever on that boat at all.

  2. You would have thought someone would have noticed his launch or passed him on the river early on. He would have been a very memorable sight I would think?

    Has foul play been ruled out? Guessing the place the vehicle was found would have been a logical dump point to confuse matters if so?

    Something does not add up, or info for the article is vague.


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