America’s 10 deadliest National Parks revealed

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A new study has revealed America’s deadliest national parks, with Lake Mead National Recreational Area taking the top spot. Information collected by the Public Risk Management Program (PRMP) was analyzed by personal injury lawyer Connecticut Trial Firm, which looked at the number of deaths that occurred in national parks between July 2013 and July 2023 to determine the most dangerous national parks in the country.

The study found that Lake Mead National Recreation Area, located on the border between Nevada and Arizona, was the most dangerous, with 6.9% of national park deaths in America reported there between 2013 and 2023.

The park, famously the home of the Hoover Dam, saw a total of 203 fatalities in this time frame, a whopping 1,235% more deaths than the average.

Lake Mead has made headlines in recent years due to the high number of water-related deaths, with 56 drownings occurring between 2013 and 2023, which accounts for 12% of the 466 total deaths from drowning across parks nationally.

The data reveals that 44 deaths occurred at Lake Mead during the month of July, meaning 21% of fatalities happened during the summer month when people are most likely to visit for a swim or to make use of the recreational water activities available.

Yosemite National Park was found to be the second ‘deadliest’ according to the data, with 152 recorded deaths throughout the ten-year period, accounting for 5.2% of all national park deaths. Medical emergencies were found to be the main cause of death, accounting for 34 fatalities, while falling was the second-most common, contributing to 33 deaths.

Yosemite National Park accounts for more than 1 in 8 (12.7%) deaths from falling across all national parks and is the highest rate nationally.

The third ‘deadliest’ was found to be the Grand Canyon National Park, the country’s 11th-largest park, which also features one of America’s most famous geological attractions. The park has recorded 136 deaths, which makes up 4.6% of all recorded national park fatalities during the ten-year time period.

The Arizonan park, which is the 12th most visited in the country, was found to have the highest number of deaths (56) related to medical emergencies compared to any other park nationwide.

Grand Canyon National Park recorded the highest number of deaths in June, with 21% of all fatalities occurring during the first month of summer.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park appeared fourth on the list, with a total of 104 fatalities. The highest number of fatalities were found to take place in September on average across the ten-year period.

The fifth-most ‘deadly’ park is Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile scenic drive spanning Virginia and North Carolina, which recorded 100 deaths throughout the ten-year period. The leading cause of death was motor vehicle incidents, which killed 38 people.

Top Ten Deadliest National Parks













National Park






Total number of recorded deaths (2013 – 2023)






Most common cause of death






No. of deaths from most common cause






Most dangerous month(s)











Lake Mead National Recreation Area































Yosemite National Park































Grand Canyon National Park































Great Smoky

Mountains National Park










Motor Vehicle Incident





















Blue Ridge Parkway










Motor Vehicle Incident





















Natchez Trace Parkway










Motor Vehicle Incident





















Baltimore-Washington Parkway










Motor Vehicle Incident





















Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

































Golden Gate National Recreation Area


































Yellowstone National Park





















Data from July 2013 – August 2023 (self-inflicted mortality data omitted from results)

In addition to the ‘deadliest’ national parks, the data also highlighted some worrying statistics around fatalities by sex.

Despite a 2021 study in the Journal of Leisure Research suggesting that more women visit national parks than men, nearly three-quarters (1,729) of unintentional deaths over the past ten years have been male.

Among causes of death, men were most likely to die from drowning, medical incidents, and motor vehicle crashes. In fact, men were found to be 85% more likely to die from drowning and 82% more likely to die from a medical incident than women.

“National parks are an amazing recreational resource and can be awe-inspiring for those who visit them,” says Ryan McKeen, CEO and Co-founder of Connecticut Trial Firm, which analyzed the data.

“However, national parks can still present some level of risk, with drowning, medical emergencies, and motor vehicle incidents accounting for 48% of fatalities in parks over the past ten years.

“We wanted to look into the documented deaths that occured in national parks to help advise and minimize future accidents for future visitors.”

Ryan has shared his top advice on how to stay safe if visiting national parks this spring:

Learn the rules

Each park has its own rules regarding safety and the areas that are safe to explore and camp, which can be found online. It is important to read these through before embarking on your adventure.

National Park Foundation recommends developing an emergency plan in the event of an injury or medical incident and practicing before leaving, as phones and cell service cannot be counted on.

If you have any underlying medical issues, bring a card with a summary of your conditions and any medication you are taking. Also, stick with the marked paths when traveling if a rescue team needs to find and reach you.

Be prepared

Data shows that 76 people died due to hypothermia, which can develop if visitors become lost and fail to pack the appropriate equipment.

National Park Foundation recommends preparing ten specific items:

Navigation – a compass and map
Sun protection – sunscreen and hat
Insulation – waterproof jacket, thermals
Illumination – flashlights or headlamps
First aid supplies
Fire – matches and lighter
Repair kit and tools – duct tape, knife, puncture kit
Nutrition – high-energy foods
Hydration – water and water treatment
Emergency shelter – a tent or tarp

Enjoy water safely

Some parks prohibit entering bodies of water, and for good reason. Don’t be tempted to cool off with a dip if it is not safe to do so, as lakes can be multiple stories deep and not always suitable for unseasoned swimmers.

If entering the water is allowed, consider a buddy system where you can take turns to spot friends and minimize the risk.

America’s deadliest national parks, Lake Mead National Recreational Area, Public Risk Management Program (PRMP), Connecticut Trial Firm


The post America’s 10 deadliest National Parks revealed appeared first on Brand TD.


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