Lake Mead National Recreation Area has earned the grim distinction of being America's deadliest national park, and it's not the only Arizona hotspot to be wary of, according to new data. A study by the Connecticut Trial Firm, as reported by 12 News, shows that from 2013 to 2023, Lake Mead saw a staggering 203 fatalities, surging ahead as the deadliest of all, whereas the Grand Canyon also carved out an infamous spot as the third with 136 deaths.
In an analysis of park service records spanning over a decade, Outside magazine found that the lake itself is the park's most lethal feature, contributing to it topping their list with an average of 25 deaths each year — motor vehicle crashes and slips or falls following close behind as other top culprits. Despite being primarily land, when folks flock to Lake Mead, which sees a crowd of 7 million guests yearly it's the aquatic allure that ends up drawing them, and sometimes, tragically, to their doom; the park also racked up the highest number of homicides among national parks with six in the past decade reported by KTNV.
The recently publicized fatalities count at Lake Mead eclipses the national average by a stunning 1,235%, with drownings accounting for 56 of those deaths and amounting to 12% of all national park drowning fatalities. Ryan McKeen, CEO and Co-founder of the Connecticut Trial Firm behind the study, emphasizes the value of such unsettling findings, saying, "We wanted to look into the documented deaths that occurred in national parks to help advise and minimize future accidents for future visitors," as stated by 12 News. Park officials advocate that anyone heading to these natural wonders should gear up with knowledge on park guidelines and usher in a hefty dose of good judgement.
Fills the rest of the top deadly list are Yosemite National Park with 150 deaths and the iconic Grand Canyon with 130, rounding out the top three but let's not forget others on this melancholic list include Yellowstone, Golden Gate, and Glen Canyon, according to KTNV's findings. And so as the numbers pile up, it's a sobering reminder for the millions venturing into America's celebrated wilds: nature's beauty is boundless, but its dangers are just as vast and unforgiving.