Most dangerous US National Parks named

From accidental falls to drowning and even attacks by wild animals - US national parks can be dangerous places to visit

Most dangerous US National Parks named

The USA is blessed with some amazing national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Great Smoky Mountains and more.

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And while the country’s national parks are undeniably beautiful, they can also be dangerous too. From accidental falls to drowning and even attacks by wild animals, over a thousand people have lost their lives in the USA’s national parks.

But which parks are the most dangerous, where are visitors most likely to die and what are the most common causes of death in national parks? 

1. Grand Canyon – 134 deaths

The dangers facing visitors to the Grand Canyon are pretty clear to see, with drops of 100 feet into the base of the canyon itself, although falls aren’t actually the biggest cause of death in the national park. 27 people have died from falls in the Grand Canyon since 2010, while as many as 42 have died from medical or natural causes, many of which were due to the extreme heat in the area.

2. Yosemite – 126 deaths

In second place was Yosemite National Park, where 126 people have lost their lives in the last decade, with 45 coming from falls. Beauty spots such as Taft Point, Nevada Fall and Half Dome have all seen deaths over the last few years, often when people were trying to capture the perfect photo without being fully aware of the dangers of their surroundings.

3. Great Smoky Mountains – 92 deaths

The Great Smoky Mountains straddle North Carolina and Tennessee and are the most visited national park in the country, although it’s also where the third-highest number of deaths occur. The most common cause of death here wasn’t from falls, drowning or wild animal attacks, but actually, motor vehicle crashes, with 37 in the last ten years.

1. Falls – 245 deaths

Unfortunately, while the rugged mountain terrain of the country’s national parks is what makes them so spectacular and popular with visitors, it also contributes to the number one cause of deaths, falls, with 245 deaths in the last ten years. While it can be tempting to take the odd risk here and there to capture the perfect picture, the figures show just how important it is to be aware of your surroundings when visiting a national park.

2. Medical/Natural Death – 192 deaths

Many of the deaths that take place in national parks aren’t necessarily anything to do with the surroundings of those involved, but the harsh environment can certainly exacerbate existing health conditions, especially if you’re pushing yourself past your physical limits in extreme heat which you might not otherwise be used to.

3. Undetermined – 166 deaths

Interestingly, 166 deaths in the country’s national parks went unexplained, with an ‘undetermined’ cause of death.

Top 10 Most Dangerous U.S National Parks


RankNational ParkState/TerritoryDeath total (Since 2010)
1Grand CanyonArizona134
2YosemiteCalifornia126
3Great Smoky MountainsNorth Carolina, Tennessee92
4Sequoia & Kings CanyonCalifornia75
5YellowstoneWyoming, Montana, Idaho52
6DenaliAlaska51
6Mount RainierWashington51
8Rocky MountainColorado49
9Grand TetonWyoming48
10ZionUtah43

The dangers facing visitors to the Grand Canyon are pretty clear to see, with drops of 100 feet into the base of the canyon itself, although falls aren’t actually the biggest cause of death in the national park. 27 people have died from falls in the Grand Canyon since 2010, while as many as 42 have died from medical or natural causes, many of which were due to the extreme heat in the area.

Top 5 Causes of Death 

Cause of DeathNumber of Deaths
Falls245
Medical/ Natural Death192
Undetermined166
Motor Vehicle Crash140
Drowning139

Unfortunately, while the rugged mountain terrain of the country’s national parks is what makes them so spectacular and popular with visitors, it also contributes to the number one cause of deaths, falls-with 245 deaths in the last ten years. While it can be tempting to take the odd risk here and there to capture the perfect picture, the figures show just how important it is to be aware of your surroundings when visiting a national park.

There have also been 166 deaths in the country’s national parks that went unexplained, with an ‘undetermined’ cause of death.

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