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Are you fond of outdoor activities, such as hiking, skiing, rock climbing, and kayaking? Those are wonderful and healthy ways to spend your leisure time. However, they might be dangerous at times, so it is essential to think about your safety in the first place. Of course, it is hardly ever possible to control snowstorms, avalanches, and crazy rivers, as well as lightning, failing GPS, angry predators, and venomous snakes.
Unfortunately, there are hundreds of adventure seekers each year who never manage to tell their stories, because they don’t come back home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sledding, rock climbing, snowboarding, and hiking are the most common sources of injuries in the wild outdoors.
There are over 2000 search and rescue (SAR) incidents each year in the USA. For instance, the National Park Service (NPS) reported 2,348 SAR cases in 2013 and 2,658 cases in 2014, and these numbers haven’t changed greatly ever since.
This statistic also includes over 800 hiking injuries per year, without taking into account such category as “Hunting – Gathering.” Moreover, the numbers collected by the Bureau of Land Management and US Forestry Service are not included here! Can you imagine how many hikers get injured every year in real life?
There are presumably a lot more people who suffer due to outdoor activities that sometimes result in fatalities. What are the main reasons for injuries and death?
There are 4 common things which usually lead to lethal outcomes – lack of experience, poor physical conditions, poor judgment, and falls. As a rule, people don’t take the dangers of the wild outdoors seriously enough, which may cause them irreparable harm.
The statistics state that over 280 million people visit the designated recreation areas of the NPS every year. There are about 192 million visitors who come to the forests and grasslands of the U.S. Forest Service annually. Finally, more than 500,000 people travel along 253 million acres of the Bureau of Land Management.
These numbers include rock climbers, hikers, backcountry skiers, and other fans of outdoor activities who often fail to take care of their safety. Most deaths happen to people aged between 20 – 29 years old.
Although people are aware that their hobbies might be life-threatening, they do not often prepare well enough for probable dangers, and the potential for tragedy rises. For instance, hikers are likely to overestimate their skill level and underestimate the power of the wild.
Nevertheless, most fatalities are preventable, if people change their attitude toward Mother Nature and take it more seriously. We’ve collected top 10 highly popular, but very dangerous places in the U.S. If you decide to visit some of them, be sure to pick the right equipment, regarding their peculiarities!
TOP 10 Treacherous Places in the USA
- Abrams Falls, TN
- Mist Trail, CA
- The Maze, UT
- Bright Angel Trail, AZ
- Mount Washington, NH
- Bad Girls Club, CO
- Pure Imagination, KY
- Moose River, NY
- Ocoee River, TN
- Jackson Hole, WY
Most Dangerous Destinations for Hikers
1. Abrams Falls, Tennessee
Being an easy-rated 2.5-mile hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Abrams Falls belongs to one of the most life-threatening hiking destinations in the USA. There’s a high risk of drowning because of strong currents beneath the falls. They may sweep even capable swimmers into unseen traps. A lot of hikers fell into their chilly depths because of slick rocks which are highly unreliable.
2. Mist Trail, California
Yosemite National Park is considered a perfect place for a family holiday, offering a plethora of various facilities for everyone. However, there are a lot of wild animals, which definitely doesn’t make it safe. Falls Trail is a popular destination in Yosemite, visited by thousands of people per day in summer.
They are attracted by breathtaking views of amazing waterfalls, and yet over 60 people died there trying to make a beautiful photo and falling down. Ryan Leeder, a 23-year-old, fell 2500 feet off Half Dome’s summit. Just watch this to understand how challenging the hiking route is!
Please note that there’s little a guard can do to rescue a victim. It may take hours to get a helicopter to the site or make a safe climb down. Hikers should always mind unpredictable weather and take into consideration spray from the falls, which often makes the trail and the cables slippery. You can protect yourself from falling with the help of a special rope.
3. The Maze, Utah
Being the least accessible section of Canyonlands National Park, the red rock labyrinth called the Maze receives no more than 2,000 visitors a year. There aren’t many people who want to explore this destination, as it is really hard to reach. The typical dangers of the Maze are rockfalls, deadly flash floods, as well as dead-end gullies. Please keep in mind that this enormous wild place has no amenities, such as water, food, and gasoline, so you should prepare them beforehand.
4. Bright Angel Trail, Arizona
Bright Angel Trail is a notorious 9.5-mile route located in the Grand Canyon. It seems perfectly easy, but only on paper. The visitors are likely to encounter certain challenges while hiking. Although the route is rather safe, the environment can get extreme there because of the temperatures. They are likely to rise to 110 °F (+43 °C) and higher, which often causes heat-related ailments.
In spite of plain warnings, people don’t prepare well for a long draining uphill slog, and around 250 people annually have to be rescued from the trail. The National Park Service had to assign a separate crew to watch Bright Angel Trial visitors. Although there is a constant surveillance, it is still recommended to have at least a hat and some water with you to avoid a heat stroke. Watch this amazing video about Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon!
5. Mount Washington, New Hampshire
Mount Washington is only 1917 meters high, so it cannot be considered a complicated peak. However, it is one of the most dangerous summits for hikers in the U.S. The mountain is actually called the “Home of the World's Worst Weather,” as it is often freezing on the top, even in summer!
Many shorts-wearing explorers fall for the beauty of Mount Washington, but most of them get cold. It may be 27 °F (-3 °C) on the top, but low temperatures aren’t the only threat there. Over a hundred climbers suffered from other weather-related mishaps, such as avalanches and strong wind which is able to blow the visitors off a cliff. Its speed reaches 231 mph, so be careful while hiking on Mount Washington!
Most Dangerous Destinations for Rock Climbers
6. Bad Girls Club, Colorado
The 100-foot Bad Girls Club (5.14d) is the toughest rock in Rifle, a number one climbing destination in Colorado. It looks like a wall with no holds, and this feature makes it a treacherous place. See for yourself how risky Bad Girls Club is in this video!
7. Pure Imagination, Kentucky
Pure Imagination rock (5.14d) is situated in Red River Gorge and is considered one of the most difficult climbs in the USA. It has extremely sharp thin edges and challenging lock-offs on crimps and pockets. The longest section of uninterrupted hard climbing lies towards the top. Fortunately, you will find rest at the final bolt, after which you’ll be able to climb a number of pockets and long moves which are guarding the chains. Sasha DiGiulian was the first American woman to climb Pure Imagination rock in October 2011. No woman dared to do it before!
Most Dangerous Destinations for Kayakers
8. Moose River, New York
Moose River is a mountain waterway located in New York. Kayakers from different parts of North America and even Canada love this destination, for it has a plenty of sections with various class rapids that range from easy to perilous. The latter includes Class V whitewater run for extreme paddlers.
If you are fond of kayaking, try not to overestimate your skills and choose the right equipment to ensure maximum protection for yourself!
9. Ocoee River, Tennessee
Ocoee River belonged to the 1996 Olympics challenge course (Class III to Class IV). Although this place isn’t considered particularly dangerous for kayakers, it has caused a number of deaths over the recent years. They happened due to a plethora of areas that are difficult to pass through, for instance, drops and large descents.
Most Dangerous Destination for Skiers
10. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole is a famous ski resort in Wyoming, which contains a lot of dangerous runs. Some people say that it’s suitable “only for rock stars,” as it is believed to be very challenging. If you are a highly skilled skier and would like to visit this place, please make sure you have the necessary gear. You can check the list of equipment for Jackson Hole in this video.
Hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, sledding, and skiing are great outdoor activities which are often an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. To enjoy adrenaline rush without facing any negative consequences, it is crucial to be aware of the potential dangers. Mind your safety and take care!