New Study Reveals The Deadliest National Parks

New Study Reveals The Deadliest National Parks


Deaths Per Capita at U.S. National Parks

An intensive study done by Panish Shea & Boyle LLP analyzed the deaths that occurred at US National Parks between 2007 and 2018.

Fair Warning: This study is extremely morbid and exclusively talks about deaths, ways to die, and how people have died in the past. Sorry for the dark content this Thursday morning, but the data is pretty interesting if you can stomach the constant discussion of death.

The study found, through records released by NPS, that there were 2,727 deaths at US National Parks between 2007 and 2018. Seems like a lot of deaths until you consider that there were 3.5 billion park visits within that time frame.

That comes out to just 8 deaths per 10 million visits to National Park sites, or a .00008% death rate, if we’re getting technical.

Alarmingly, but maybe not surprisingly, men make for a disproportionate amount of deaths within US National Parks. 81% of recorded deaths were men while only 19% were women.

Grand Canyon

The leading cause of death is National Parks is drowning (24.5%), followed by motor vehicle crashes (17.4%), falls and slips (12.3%), and natural causes (10.5%).

Surprisingly, considering the number of daily videos I watch of people getting charged by bison and bears in Yellowstone, only 8 deaths were recorded of the 2,727 to have been caused by wild animals.

Human activities

The most deaths occurred at Lake Mead National Recreation Area (201 deaths), Yosemite (133), Grand Canyon (131), and Natchez Trace Parkway (131).

Despite those seemingly large numbers, the likelihood of dying at these parks isn’t necessarily the highest considering the large number of people that visit.

The study aimed to find the park you’re most likely to die at based on number of deaths per 10 million visits, and one park is far and away the most dangerous park on the list.

national park foundation

According to this study, a guest at North Cascades National Park is more than six times as likely to die than at any other National Park or National Recreation Area.

This number is most likely skewed so dramatically due to a relatively high number of deaths considering the lower number of visitors to North Cascades National Park.

North Cascades | National Park Foundation

North Cascades National Park- Courtesy: National Park Foundation

The conclusion for this study should be that US National Park and National Recreation areas are extremely safe. Very little deaths occur considering the multiple billions of people that visit over the course of a decade.

Some parks might be inherently more dangerous considering the terrain, waterways, and other factors, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit.

National recreation area

Featured Image: guillermo gavilla from Pixabay

I think the biggest standouts for me from this study is how few people die from wild animals, and how disproportionately the deaths are skewed towards men.

Stay safe out there, friends!


Images/graphs courtesy: Panish Shea & Boyle LLP



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