The silver bridge which crosses over the Colorado River at the bottom of the grand canyon .

Grand Canyon ranked the deadliest national park in America, according to analysis

In a striking revelation from a recent analysis by outdoor clothing brand KÜHL, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona has been identified as the most dangerous national park in the United States.

The comprehensive study utilized an array of metrics, including the number of fatalities, missing persons cases, search and rescue operations, park ranger staffing levels, access to medical facilities, trail warnings, and visitor statistics to assess the relative danger of America’s national parks.

Grand Canyon Tops the List

Topping the list, Grand Canyon National Park emerged as the most hazardous, with statistics indicating a mortality risk of 1 in 503,000 visitors. The park, known for its majestic vistas, has witnessed 165 deaths since 2007.

Sharing the dubious honor is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve in Alaska. This park, characterized by its vast glaciers and imposing volcanoes, presents a mortality risk of 1 in 126,000 visitors.

Wrangell Mountain Air McCarthy Bagley Icefield
Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Factors contributing to the high-risk ratings of these parks include a significant number of fatal accidents, frequent search and rescue missions, and challenges in accessing medical facilities. Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park, a secluded archipelago, was deemed the third most dangerous, with a fatality risk of 1 in 163,000.

North Cascades National Park in Washington, despite its breathtaking landscape of dense forests, waterfalls, and glaciers, holds a death risk of 1 in 18,000, ranking it fourth.

Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park, known for its vibrant marine life and crystal-clear waters, occupies the fifth spot, with a fatality risk of 1 in 184,000. Big Bend National Park in Texas, often lauded as the state’s crowning natural jewel, comes in sixth with a death risk of 1 in 218,000.

Occupying the seventh position is Alaska’s Denali National Park & Preserve, where the risk stands at 1 in 119,000. California’s Kings Canyon National Park, renowned for its towering trees and deep valleys, is the eighth most dangerous, with a death risk of 1 in 220,000.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, home to the world’s largest Permian fossil reef and tranquil forests, ranks ninth with a death risk of 1 in 514,000. Completing the top ten is Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, a scenic wonder with a death risk of 1 in 317,000.

Deaths in the National Parks are still rare

Despite these rankings, it’s crucial to contextualize the concept of ‘danger.’ The term indicates a heightened risk, rather than an inherent lack of safety. The average likelihood of a fatal incident in national parks is approximately 1 in 664,099, a figure that is substantially lower than the risk of dying in a traffic accident, estimated at 1 in 485.

In summary, while certain national parks present increased risks, the overall safety of these natural treasures remains high, mainly when visitors are well-prepared and adhere to park regulations and guidelines.

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside