10 Most Dangerous National Parks in America

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America’s 63 national parks are celebrated as the jewels of “America the Beautiful,” drawing hundreds of millions of visitors each year to their sprawling, wild landscapes. Yet, for all their beauty, these parks are not without their dangers. From accidental falls to drowning and even encounters with wildlife, over a thousand people have lost their lives in these natural settings. 

So where are visitors most likely to encounter life-threatening situations, and what are the leading causes of fatalities? Outdoor enthusiast website Outforia explored data from the National Park Service, analyzing visitor fatalities from 2010 to 2020, to answer these questions. Here are the ten national parks where visitors are most at risk, based on the data.

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10. Zion (Utah)

Annual Visitors: 4,488,268

Recorded Deaths (2010-2020): 43

Zion’s red cliffs and canyon trails are a draw for over 4.4 million visitors each year. Over ten years, the park experienced 43 fatalities, of which 22 deaths were from falls and eight from environmental exposure. There were also three drownings and six deaths where the cause was undetermined.

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9. Grand Teton (Wyoming)

Annual Visitors: 3,405,614

Recorded Deaths (2010-2020): 48

Grand Teton’s dramatic peaks drew over 3.4 million visitors and saw 48 deaths in a decade, with 21 fatalities due to falls and 10 from environmental causes. The park also reported one drowning and 10 transportation-related fatalities, illustrating the diverse challenges faced by its visitors.

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8. Rocky Mountain (Colorado)

Annual Visitors: 4,670,053

Recorded Deaths (2010-2020): 49

Rocky Mountain National Park is celebrated for its high-altitude beauty, welcoming nearly 4.7 million visitors annually. But over the past decade, this park has witnessed 49 fatalities. Of these, 18 resulted from falls, five were due to environmental factors, and six were attributed to medical or natural causes.

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7. Mount Rainier (Washington)

Annual Visitors: 1,501,621

Recorded Deaths (2010-2020): 51

Mount Rainier, an iconic symbol of Washington’s natural beauty, has a towering presence that is both inviting and imposing. The mountain’s challenging terrain has claimed 51 lives from 2010 to 2020, of which 19 deaths were through falls. Severe weather has also claimed 12 victims. Notably, in 2014, an avalanche swept a group’s camp off of the 14,410-foot volcano’s challenging Liberty Ridge route, killing five. 

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6. Denali (Alaska)

Annual Visitors: 601,152

Recorded Deaths (2010-2020): 51

In the Alaskan wilderness, Denali stands as the continent’s tallest peak, drawing more than 600,000 visitors annually. While Denali’s remote and challenging terrain attracts those seeking solitude and adventure, it has also been the site of 51 fatalities. The extreme conditions of the environment contributed to 18 deaths, and falls accounted for 14 of these tragedies.

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5. Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho)

Annual Visitors: 4,020,288

Recorded Deaths (2010-2020): 52

As America’s first national park, Yellowstone is a geological and ecological wonder, renowned for its geysers (like the famous Old Faithful) and its abundant wildlife. However, the park has also seen its share of tragedy. Over the past decade, 52 lives have been lost: 12 transportation-related fatalities, 12 deaths from medical or natural causes, seven falls, and five drownings.

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4. Sequoia & Kings Canyon (California)

Annual Visitors: 1,878,163

Recorded Deaths (2010-2020): 75

Among California’s majestic Sierra Nevada, the giant sequoias of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks stand tall, attracting nearly 2 million visitors annually. Of the 75 fatalities recorded, 25 were due to falls, and 13 were attributed to drowning. Additionally, there were 10 deaths due to medical or natural causes, and seven people have died in transportation incidents.

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3. Great Smoky Mountains (North Carolina, Tennessee)

Annual Visitors: 12,547,743

Recorded Deaths (2010-2020): 92

With its misty peaks and rich biodiversity, America’s most visited national park — the Great Smoky Mountains — sees more than 12 million visitors a year. While most come for the tranquil scenery, 92 have not returned, including 37 deaths related to transportation incidents and four from environmental causes. There have also been six drownings and 15 cases linked to medical or natural causes.

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2. Yosemite (California)

Annual Visitors: 4,422,861

Recorded Deaths (2010-2020): 126

Yosemite’s towering granite cliffs and giant sequoias have attracted millions of visitors for over a century. However, the park’s rugged terrain has proven unforgiving, with a total of 126 deaths reported in the last decade. Falls are the leading cause of fatalities and account for 45 deaths, closely followed by environmental factors, which have claimed 26 lives. Additionally, 17 people have drowned in the park’s mighty Merced River, while heart attacks and other natural causes have resulted in 26 fatalities.

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1. Grand Canyon (Arizona)

Annual Visitors: 5,974,411

Recorded Deaths (2010-2020): 134

The Grand Canyon, sprawling over 1,900 square miles in the Arizona desert, attracts nearly six million visitors annually with its deep red cliffs and jaw-dropping vistas. However, the very features that make it magnificent have also led to numerous fatalities, making it the most dangerous national park in the country. According to Outforia, falls have resulted in 27 deaths, the harsh environment has claimed 14 lives, and 13 people have died in transportation incidents. Additionally, there were 42 deaths due to medical or natural causes, 13 drownings, and 16 incidents where the cause was unclear.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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