A recent analysis by outdoor clothing company KÜHL names Grand Canyon and Wrangell-St. Elias as the "most dangerous national parks" in the U.S.
Since 2007, 165 deaths have occurred in the Grand Canyon. However, KÜHL emphasizes that the average odds of a fatal incident in national parks are about 1 in 664,099 visitors, lower than the odds of a pedestrian dying in a traffic crash.
National Park Service spokesperson Cynthia Hernandez highlights that park conditions are dynamic, and safety is not straightforward.
KÜHL's rankings are based on seven criteria, including total deaths, missing people, search and rescue missions, park ranger presence, proximity to hospitals, trail alerts, and visitor data, sourced from National Park Service websites and Google maps.
The analysis also factors in proximity to hospitals, checking for a 24-hour hospital within a one-hour drive of the park, which poses challenges for parks on islands like Isle Royale and Dry Tortugas.
Falls, medical issues, drowning, and motor vehicle crashes are identified as significant risks in national parks, with falls being the leading cause, accounting for 20.3% of deaths.
The perception of danger is not limited to extreme sports; common activities like motor vehicle crashes and water-related activities pose risks. Swimming in natural bodies of water can be different from pools due to factors like rip currents and changing conditions.
National Park Service emphasizes that visitor safety is a shared responsibility. Planning ahead, understanding one's skill level, and educating oneself about potential hazards are crucial steps for a safe and memorable national park experience.
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