The Safest (and Most Dangerous) National Parks for Visitors

The outdoor clothing brand Kühl just released its findings from a new study.

petrified forest national park
Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park | James Keith/Moment/Getty Images
Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park | James Keith/Moment/Getty Images

Visiting a national park is like a healthy reset. You get to pull the city plug and surround yourself with nature, all while you breathe in some of the freshest air available out there. But while spending some time outdoors is one of the healthiest things you can do, it doesn't come without risk. Sure, it's not straight-up dangerous—but it can be if you don't adopt the right safety measures.

It's also true that some national parks are more prone to risky situations than others. Safety should always be your top concern when traveling, especially if you're planning on spending some time hiking or camping out in nature. To help you be better prepared for your next national park journey, the outdoor clothing brand Kühl just released data from its latest research, and came up with rankings on both the safest and most dangerous national parks to visit in the US.

To come up with the results, the company analyzed seven different factors, including total deaths, missing people, search and rescue missions, park ranger presence, proximity to hospitals, trail alerts, and visitor data.

But before you worry too much about your next national park visit, let us explain—while some parks are more dangerous than others, it's of course all relative. The "most dangerous" park, in fact, isn't dangerous per se, even though it checks more boxes of what is considered potentially risky. According to the study, the odds of having a fatal incident in a national park are about one in 664,099—and if you're worried that's a high ratio, it really isn't. The odds of a fatal incident happening while walking down the street are, in fact, much higher (one in 485) due to traffic crashes.

Now that (we hope) we set your heart at rest, let's get into the most dangerous national parks in the US. Grand Canyon National Park takes the gold medal in the field, where the odds of a visitor dying are about one in 503,000. Next is Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, due to the presence of some of the largest volcanoes and glaciers. The bronze medal went to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan.

Here's the top 10 most dangerous national parks in the US, according to the study:

1. Grand Canyon National Park
2. Wrangell-St.Elias National Park & Preserve
3. Isle Royale National Park
4. North Cascades National Park
5. Dry Tortugas National Park
6. Big Bend National Park
7. Denali National Park & Preserve
8. Kings Canyon National Park
9. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
10. Mount Rainier National Park

On the other hand, if you're looking for some of the safest parks available, you should head elsewhere. The study found that the safest national park in the US is Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, followed by Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park. The third safest spot was Kobuk Valley National Park in Arkansas.

Check out the ranking of the safest national parks in the US below:

1. Gateway Arch National Park
2. Petrified Forest National Park
3. Kobuk Valley National Park
4. National Park of American Samoa
5. Hot Springs National Park
6. Gates of the Arctic National Park
7. Kenai Fjords National Park
8. Theodore Roosevelt National Park
9. Bryce Canyon National Park
10. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She will beg you not to put pineapple on pizza. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.