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Arizona home to 3 national parks on ‘Most Deadly’ list

Boats skirt the shore at the Colorado River's Horseshoe Bend, downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam, in Page, Arizona. (AP Photo/Matt York, file)

PHOENIX — As much beauty as the Grand Canyon provides, there’s certainly a risk that someone is going to get hurt while visiting the national park, or worse.

It’s hard to protect against every possibility of injury without affecting nature itself, so with such rocky terrain and great depths, it’s not hard to believe the Grand Canyon is dangerous.

According to a list made by Outside, the Grand Canyon and two other Arizona parks are some of the most dangerous in the nation.

Outside released “The 10 Most Deadly National Parks” list, with the Grand Canyon, Lake Mead and the Glen Canyon all being named.

Lake Mead is right on the border of Arizona and Nevada, and it has seen 254 deaths from its 7.2 million annual visitors.

Set in the Nevada desert, Lake Mead’s high temperatures are brutal and the rugged terrain claims an average 25 casualties each year. But the real danger is the 290-square-mile lake itself. As of September, a total of 15 people died in the park this year; four of them drowned. The park also has the highest number of homicides of any Park Service unit over the past decade at six.

Lake Mead actually tops the list with those 254 deaths.

The Grand Canyon gets 5.5 million vistors per year, and over time, 130 people have died there.

The crown jewel of the Park Service, the Grand Canyon possesses an ancient geology difficult to traverse and the drastic swings in climate, from sub-zero to triple-digit temperatures, punish unprepared visitors. Eight people died in the park this year, most due to cardiac arrests and falls off hiking points. The park has the second highest number of suicides over the past decade, at 19.

Emily Davis, who is a public affairs specialist, told KTAR News that the number of deaths at the Grand Canyon and the number of visitors the national park received that were in the study matches up with what the park has.

“One thing that we work on really well here in the park and that has helped significantly over the last couple of decades is a program called the Prevention Search and Rescue Program,” Davis said. “With that program, we have skilled rangers and volunteers that are out on the trails, especially in the busiest times of the year, to talk to every hiker that goes into the canyon and makes them aware of weather and water availability and things like that.”

The third national park in the state to make the list was Glen Canyon, which rides the Arizona-Utah border.

Of its 3.2 million visitors a year, 82 people have died there.

Glen Canyon, which stretches the Utah and Arizona desert, endures temperatures ranging from highs of 110 degrees and lows of 0 degrees. In late August, a 72-year-old Utah hiker was rescued by helicopter after six days of wandering the barren land. He had become disoriented, while hiking toward Powell Lake and was found sunburn and dehydrated.

As always, make sure you are aware of the temperatures and your own health conditions if planning to go on a hike anywhere in Arizona.

KTAR’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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