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How safe are California national parks?


With the nation continuing to reopen following the worldwide pandemic, California residents and countless tourists nationwide are looking forward to revisiting highly popular national parks in the state that many consider the best in the country.

While “the best” may be a subjective claim, what is not in dispute is that five national parks in the state are also among the twenty deadliest locations.

Hidden and potentially deadly dangers

An analysis that reviewed deaths per 10 million park visitors that occurred from 2007 to 2018. Specific parks included:

  • Redwood National and State Parks – 36.6 deaths
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks – 33.2 deaths
  • Channel Islands National Park – 31.53 fatalities
  • Death Valley National Park – 26.57 deaths
  • Sequoia and Kings Canyon – 33.2 fatalities

Just north of the Golden State is likely another popular destination for National Park enthusiasts. Washington State is home to North Cascades National Park, considered the most deadly nationwide with 625 deaths per 10 million visitors. At a distant second place was Alaska’s Denali National Park with 100 deaths per 10 million.

The most common cause of national park deaths are drownings, motor vehicle collisions, slip and falls, natural deaths, and suicides. Looking at gender, men are four times more likely to lose their lives at national parks than women.

Nationwide, national parks are largely safe. The study revealed that among 423 locations, 2,727 deaths occurred. However, when these popular destinations fall short of the most basic standards of safety, visitors can suffer serious injuries. Many lose their lives. In those tragedies, legal representation may be needed to hold negligent parties responsible.