These popular US tourist destinations have been deemed too dangerous
The United States is filled with gorgeous destinations for tourists to visit, no matter the time of the year. Beautiful beaches, parks, and more are all ideal locations to visit. But not all of these locations are actually safe. You can even die in some of these popular vacation spots.
It’s not all fatal, but you can definitely injure yourself at the very least. Whether you’re up against a feral animal or slipping on loose rocks, it helps to plan ahead when visiting these places. Where are these locations? These are the most dangerous natural tourist destinations in the US.
Death Valley (California)
Death Valley may be one of the most hostile tourist destinations you can visit in the United States. The heat, combined with rocky roads and venomous animals, are begging to hurt someone. It takes a seasoned guide to maneuver through a plethora of natural traps and several types of dangerous wildlife.
The temperatures in Death Valley rise so high that people actually die from heatstroke and dehydration. Another common way for visitors to lose their lives is by driving near the desert. Because of the extreme heat, drivers pass out and crash their cars or go too fast and lose control on the road.
The Big Island (Hawaii)
Hawaii is made up of eight islands, each with varying levels of tourism. The Big Island of Hawaii, named that for obvious reasons, has decreased in the number of tourists it receives due to volcano activity. As you can see in this picture, taken in Pahoa, lava devastates anything that gets in its way.
Volcano eruptions are claimed to only affect a small segment of the island by officials, but tourism has still dropped by more than half. Lava is one of those things that not may people want to mess around with, no matter how beautiful the island. Make sure you research where you’re going before go to this dangerous tourist destination.
Half Dome (California)
If you’re looking for a hike that’ll take you 10-12 hours to finish both ways, Yosemite’s Half Dome in California is where you should go. That is, if you don’t mind a little danger or, you know, death. Over 60 hikers have died making the long hike, either slipping or falling to their demise.
The Half Dome cables help hikers climb to the summit of the mountain without using any equipment; it’s pretty suspenseful. Yosemite, in general, is a popular destination for tourists in California, drawing more than four million visitors in 2015. There are many hiking trails that visitors can take, all with gorgeous views.
Appalachian Trail (Tennessee)
Sure, there are a ton of wild animals that can claw or bite you to death, but that’s not the largest threat you’re going to encounter on the Appalachian Trail. Viruses, pathogens, parasites, and anything that can get under your skin or into your blood are the biggest risks you face.
The worst thing—at least disease-wise—that can happen is that you contract Lyme Disease. It’d be better to get lost or get slightly injured than meet that fate. These dangers aren’t incredibly common, but they’re definitely good things to keep in mind if you decide to do the natural trek.
Tuckerman Ravine (New Hampshire)
Pictured here is the Tuckerman Ravine, where skiers often go to rush down the mountain for a little excitement. This location is based in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It isn’t just dangerous because of the extreme skiing that goes on there. Weather can drastically change out of nowhere, which can catch anyone off-guard.
Imagine what happens when you blend extreme skiing with adverse weather conditions? Let’s just say that you may not end up going back home. It can be tricky to guess when a snowstorm may kick up so competitions have to be careful with planning, not that they can do much to stop storms.
Grand Canyon (Arizona)
One of the most popular sites to visit in the United States overall, the Grand Canyon in Arizona can actually be quite dangerous to visitors. You’d immediately guess that falling is the most common way for visitors to die. Although people do slip and fall, it’s not the biggest source of death.
One in every 400,000 visitors actually end up falling to their deaths at the Grand Canyon. That adds up when you take into account that there are at least five million visitors per year. So how do people usually die? The most common way to die is from dehydration or from heatstroke.
The Maze (Utah)
With a name like “The Maze,” you’d expect a lot of people getting lost there. You’d be right. Getting lost in The Maze is the highest danger you’re going to face if you decide to go out into Utah. Not anyone can do the hike, even among the most experienced hikers.
First off, you have to drive over forty miles away from anything or anyone in order to get to your final destination. Once you’re right there, expect the insane hike to take several days to complete (really). Some people make it a whole vacation and stay longer than a week.
New Smyrna Beach (Florida)
New Smyrna Beach is one of the most dangerous tourist destinations in the US due to sharks, again. Although sharks have injured a lot of people, they haven’t actually claimed any lives that have been reported. This encourages visitors to keep going to the beach since there is an illusion of safety.
Since people started keeping track in the late 1800s, there have been over 200 shark attacks on people in New Smyrna Beach. It doesn’t seem that tourism will be slowing down any time soon, so we’ll be hearing of more shark attacks as the months pass. Just make sure you’re not one of them.
Maroon Bells (Colorado)
Some natural tourist destinations don’t earn their “dangerous” label until people begin documenting them. The Maroon Bells, two separate peaks at the Elk Mountains in Colorado, are dangerous due to mudstone, which breaks apart easily. In 1965, eight hikers died in five different accidents, making people more aware of the mountain’s threat.
The mudstone in the area is not ideal for firm footing, but people who don’t know that place too much pressure on it, relying too heavily on its stability. Mudstone falling from above and striking hikers on the head or face is another risk that can lead to injury or death.
Red Rock Canyon (Nevada)
Red Rocks Park in Nevada is already dangerous due to falling rocks and unstable footing, but add cliff diving to that mix and you’ve got a really nasty combo on your hands. The rocky park is a popular tourist destination for those looking for rock climbing or taking a fresh new selfie.
Rock climbers are mesmerized with this area since it has so many spots for mountain climbing. There are already dangers associated with rock climbing, but inexperienced climbers aren’t always aware of what they’re getting into. The popularity of taking selfies while rock climbing can add a whole other layer of danger.
Everglades National Park (Florida)
The Everglades National Park in Florida houses a number of rare and endangered animals. Among these are the manatee and Florida panther, which almost no one gets to see no matter how many times they visit. The most dangerous thing about the Everglades are the crocodiles and alligators that live in the swampy area.
Crocodiles and alligators have incredibly powerful jaws and teeth, which they use to rip chunks of meat off their prey. The park recommends that you stay at least 15 feet away from these creatures at all times. Even 15 feet may not be enough to stop them from bolting towards you.
Barrow is part of Alaska but it isn’t actually accessible by land. The mass of land can only be reached by water or flight, making it difficult to reach. In addition, there isn’t any light from November to January every year. This is due to the location, near the top of the globe.
Don’t wander too far from the settlements in the area because you could get lost, especially during the dark months. The temperature at Barrow is usually below freezing all year long. Your fingers can be instantly frost-bitten if you don’t wear gloves outside so you have to make sure your skin is always covered.
The Red Triangle (California)
The Red Triangle covers a large portion near the coast of northern California. It’s a triangle-sized portion of the ocean and beaches where great white shark attacks are more commonplace than anywhere else, hence, “red.” How many attacks happen? Turns out, one-third of all great white shark attacks on people occur here.
Even with the great white shark attacks, people still keep flocking to the beaches where they happen. A beach is a beach. The triangle covers the ocean near San Francisco down to Monterey Bay, jutting out. Attacking sharks don’t usually go after people, but they do savor them if they get in the way.
Huntsville, Alabama is home to one of the most dangerous natural phenomena. Tornadoes appear every several years or so, but they are that much more terrifying because they seemingly come out of nowhere. There have been about a dozen tornadoes since the 70s, which doesn’t sound like many but every occurrence brings death and destruction.
Tornadoes destroy everything they pass over, including buildings and people. Hundreds of people lose their lives to tornadoes. There’s nothing you can really do to stop a tornado, so evacuating is the only path you can take to escape their devastating reach. But even then, the warning can come too late.
New Orleans (Louisiana)
The fact that New Orleans, Louisiana is so close to the ocean means that hurricanes like Katrina can hit at any moment. Since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, there has been a rise in crime by a significant amount. New Orleans actually has the highest crime rate in any of the 50 states.
Hurricane Katrina led to looting on a massive scale and the city hasn’t recovered since then. Tourists won’t all encounter theft, but there is a higher chance than if you’d visit another city. Realistically, you’ll be at risk to face the danger of thieves more than you are to be stuck in a hurricane.
Devil’s Hole (New York)
You know something menacing is going on when a place is named the Devil’s Hole. Unfortunately, it’s not just the name that sparks fear of the location, based in Niagara Country, New York. You won’t likely face any danger there, but the long, dark history may dissuade you if you take it into consideration.
Devil’s Hole is the site of the infamous Devil’s Hole Massacre, which took place in 1763. The Seneca Indians ambushed unsuspecting British soldiers and slaughtered them there. Some are drawn to the location simply because they want another place to travel, while others no doubt carry curiosity about what happened there many years ago.
Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico)
The Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico are known for their gorgeous stalactites and stalagmites, rocky growths on the ceilings and floors of caves. Tourists come into the caves for a brief, hour-and-a-half tour that usually isn’t dangerous at all. But once in a while, unseen danger can randomly strike tourists.
Poisonous gasses are known to occur deep in caves and sometimes, they sneak out into the bigger areas. In 2019, high levels of radon were found in the Carlsbad Caverns, causing higher levels of scrutiny by those who maintain the caves. Radon is one of the leading causes of lung cancer.
Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is a beautiful location abounding with wildlife of all sorts. The wildlife can be a threat, but the greatest dangers actually come from the environment itself. Rockslides can take adventurers by surprise with potentially fatal results. Lightning strikes are semi-common and those usually take lives.
Those dangers aren’t even hypothetical, tourists have lost their lives to the mountain range in the past. It’s a good idea to research how to prevent falling prey to these dangers before you go on a trip. Some things are impossible to prevent, like lightning strikes, but you can still find out how to avoid them.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area (Nevada and Arizona)
Lake Mead is only 24 miles away from Nevada’s Las Vegas, which means it’s a popular natural tourist destination. What tourists fail to realize is that the lake can be incredibly dangerous. Some people treat it like the beach or a swimming pool and end up paying the ultimate price.
There are also many accidents involving vehicles, whether it’s in a car or boat. By far the biggest cause of death is drowning. Visitors often don’t come prepared or aren’t aware of the dangers that the lake brings. It’s good to educate yourself before you end up going to Lake Mead.
Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
Mount Rainier is actually an active volcano, although it’s been over 1,000 years since it last erupted. While currently dormant, the environment itself can still be precarious. Despite being a volcano, the temperatures there are quite cold all year long. Add spontaneous avalanches and narrow climbing paths and you quickly have a recipe for disaster on your hands.
There have been numerous deaths on Liberty Ridge, one particular section of the mountain. Around 25% of the deaths that take place on Mount Rainier occur on Liberty Ridge. People are aware of the danger there so only two percent of the mountain’s visitors end up taking that particular path.
Mount Washington (New Hampshire)
The fastest wind speeds in the world occur on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Winds can be 231 miles per hour, which aren’t unlike a hurricane’s. The temperatures there are frigid and snowstorms are common. It’s not really a location that many people should brave by themselves or even with a group.
There are other parts of the mountain that you can visit too, but none of them are as dangerous. You have to be careful that you don’t get any frostbite while you’re there. It can prove deadly depending on how warmly you’re clothed and how you deal with the cold.
We have yet another entry for Hawaii on this list of dangerous tourist destinations. Kauai, Hawaii is known for its powerful ocean currents. The currents are so strong that most people stay out of the water entirely. The waves are known for getting really tall as they are strong, so surfers are discouraged from surfing.
You may not even want to sit on the rocks that jut out from under the overactive water. Waves have been known to wash people off the rocks and into the depths of the cruel ocean. Sometimes, visitors are even slammed into the rocks, which can cause injuries or knock-outs.
Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho)
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular US destinations for tourists from all over the world. It’s also one of the most beautiful but can also be one of the most dangerous tourist destinations. Most of the danger is natural and happens because visitors ignore signs and warnings set up by rangers.
The geysers and some of the springs in the area are incredibly hot and can cause burns that even lead to death. People also drown at Yellowstone and fall from hiking paths and mountain climbing. Well, drowning is a mixture of burning to death and suffocating. Many water holes aren’t meant for swimming.
Antelope Canyon (Arizona)
Antelope Canyon has remarkable colors that few other natural environments possess. But what many visitors don’t know is that there have been many deaths within the rocky walls. Hikers can slip and fall at multiple points in the area and be injured by falling rocks of varying weights and sizes.
One time, there was a flood that swept through the area and killed 11 hikers at once. Like most natural occurrences, these dangers are unpredictable and sporadic. There are seasons when flash-flooding is more common. You should definitely stay away Antelope Canyon during those times if you want to prevent danger.
Grand Prismatic Spring (Wyoming)
You’re not going to run into any problems at the Grand Prismatic Spring in Wyoming if you stick to the recommendations detailed by signs and Yellowstone park rangers. Even then, around 20 people have lost their lives to the boiling-hot waters of the springs. That, or they have been severely burned.
The Grand Prismatic Spring is a heavily photographed location due to its beauty. Just search for it online and on Instagram and you’ll see. This has people experimenting and even sticking their hands in the steamy water. As you can expect, lots of people end up burning their hands and fingers immediately.
Great Dunes National Park (Colorado)
Our second-to-last entry on this list of dangerous tourist destinations is yet another area in Colorado: the Great Dunes National Park. The temperatures on the sandy surface can blast way past 130 degrees, easily burning anything that touches it. It’s easy for anyone to die of dehydration or even heatstroke.
The sand also makes it difficult to guess where you should place your feet. Sinking sand and pitfalls can surprise hikers, trapping them instantly. Anyone with low tolerance for heat should stay far away from the Great Dunes, since they are one of the hottest places on the entire earth.
Jacob’s Well (Texas)
Our last entry is located in Texas. Jacob’s Well is known as one of the most dangerous spots for diving. There have been several deaths that have occurred in the one mile-deep pool. Most people chill at the top of the pool, looking to cool off in the hot summer, but some are more adventurous.
Thrill-seekers have gone deep into the pool, coming into contact with winding stone walls and darkness. This has led to the deaths of several divers. In response, only registered scuba divers are allowed to make the mile dive. But even those divers aren’t entirely safe from one of the most dangerous tourist destinations.
Hanakapiai Beach (Hawaii)
Enter Hanakapiai Beach, Hawaii: This beach has claimed the lives of at least 30 people over the last few decades. The strong currents have been the main source for tourist and native deaths on the beach. Even experienced swimmers are encouraged not to go too far out without any supervision.
Unsuspecting swimmers have been drug into their watery graves, so much so that a sign has been put up with tally marks of those who were claimed by the currents. The tally has risen above 80 deaths in total so far, but some question the validity of the sign’s count.
Pikes Peak (Colorado)
Pikes Peak in Colorado is home to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (also known as the Race to the Clouds), a race where professional drivers compete to reach the top. There have been seven deaths over the years, but those aren’t the only people who will face danger on these mountains.
Chances are you won’t participate in the Race to the Clouds. You may climb the mountain, and if so, you should know that this isn’t an easy hike. Most of the people who climb this mountain are experienced. It’s not really a hike you can do without any equipment either, so hike at your own risk.
Denali National Park (Alaska)
One of the biggest threats in Denali National Park in Alaska is the wildlife that lives there. People are occasionally killed by grizzly bears and other dangerous wildlife. Recently, there was heavy rainfall that led to several mudslides. Over 300 tourists were stuck in the park as officials closed the exits.
Mudslides can lead to tourists being stranded or stuck in the park and although these events aren’t always fatal, they can leave you at the mercy of nature. The area covers millions of acres (yes, millions), which means that getting lost and facing natural dangers becomes the more real the longer you stay.