Body of Missing 24-Year-Old Hiker Who Was 'Always Smiling' Found in Rocky Mountain National Park

Steven Grunwald, 24, died on Aug. 29 of multiple blunt force injuries, the Larimer County Coroner's Office said

Steven (Steve) Grunwald
Steven Grunwald. Photo: Rocky Mountain National Park

The body of a hiker missing for three weeks has been found by a search team in Rocky Mountain National Park, park officials said on Tuesday.

Authorities said the body of Steven Grunwald, 24, was found in the Notch below McHenrys and Powell Peaks in the Colorado park.

Grunwald, from Greenville, New York, last had contact with his family and friends on Aug. 28, and was last seen that day in Boulder, according to a news release from the park. A friend reported him missing on Sept. 10.

His exact route remains unknown, but authorities believe he may have been trying to hike the Glacier Gorge Traverse on Aug. 29. The route is considered “difficult” terrain, and includes 11 peak summits over approximately 19 miles.

Grunwald’s vehicle was found parked at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead on Sept. 10, and search efforts began the next day, the release said.

Recovery operations — which included a helicopter and a team of rescue dogs — were made difficult by poor conditions, including snow, strong winds and windchills of 11 degrees on Saturday, according to the park.

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The Larimer County Coroner's Office confirmed Grunwald's identity, and determined he died on Aug. 29 of multiple blunt force injuries. The manner of death was deemed accidental, according to a statement.

Prior to the discovery of the body, friend Rocco Cavalluzzi told the Fort Collins Coloradoan that Grunwald was skilled in the outdoors.

“It’s a scary situation, but I absolutely feel like he could still be alive because if anyone could survive it is Steven,” he said.

Cavalluzzi also said that Grunwald was thinking about moving to Boulder.

“He’s a loved person and has love in his heart with a great spirit and is one who you meet and become friends with,” he said. “When we talked on Aug. 24, the conversation was about his future goals. He loved life.”

Grunwald gave a Tedx Talk at Syracuse University in 2019, and spoke of being an environmental biologist and exploring ancient organisms in relation to humanity.

A YouTube video sharing the talk was flooded with fond remembrances from friends following news of his death.

“He was so contagiously positive, always smiling, generous and incredibly intense for living life to the fullest in a way very few people are through their entire lives,” one person wrote. “He says in this talk that you never know the value of anything until it’s gone, but I also want to say that anyone who knew you, Steve, even for a brief moment, knew the value of your life, your potential, your loving heart.”

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