Deaths in National Parks


The National Park Service (NPS) mortality dashboard below displays data on deaths reported in national parks. The dashboard shows death data from calendar year (CY) 2014 to 2019. The data help the NPS identify:

  • Leading causes of deaths in parks
  • Activities in parks that resulted in a death
  • Populations that are at greater risk of dying
  • Factors that contribute to deaths like environmental, mechanical, and behavioral factors.

Use the interactive dashboard to explore and answer your questions about deaths reported in national parks. Filter the dashboard by elements such as “Park”, “Year”, and “Cause of Death”, for a more detailed analysis.

The data used to create the dashboard is available for download in the “About the Data” section below. In this section you also can find the Data Dictionary. The Data Dictionary includes definitions of the terms used in the dashboard and more.


Overview of the NPS Mortality Data CY2014 to CY2019

The following list provides key findings from the mortality data analysis:

  • Out of 420+ national parks, 177 reported one or more deaths in this six-year period.
  • An average of 358 deaths a year were reported in this six-year period, or 7 deaths a week.
  • In 2019, the NPS mortality rate was 0.11 death per 100,000 recreational visits1, which is very low when compared to the 715 deaths per 100,000 people rate of the overall U.S. population2.
  • Most deaths (79%) occurred among males.
  • More than half of all deaths (52%) occurred among people ages 45 and older.
  • Half of all reported deaths (50%) are due to unintentional causes.
  • Motor vehicle crashes, drownings, and falls are the top three leading causes of unintentional deaths in parks, in that order.
  • Half of medical deaths (50%) occurred while the individual was engaged in a physical activity (e.g., hiking, biking, swimming).
  • Suicides account for 93% of all reported intentional deaths.

Suicides are a national public health concern. The objective of collecting and analyzing suicide data is to support an informed discussion about suicides in national parks.

If you are in crisis or are thinking about suicide, help is available. Call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 as they can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

[1] NPS Recreation Visits in 2019 was 327,516,619. Data accessed on January 11, 2024 at Stats Report Viewer (
[2] Kochanek, Kenneth, Xu, Jiaquan., Aria, Elizabeth. December 2020. Mortality in the United States, 2019. NCS Data Brief., No. 395. National Center for Health Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed on January 11, 2024 at NCHS Data Brief, Number 359, December 2020 (

How Does the NPS Use Mortality Data?

The NPS mortality dashboard helps us identify key trends such as leading causes of deaths, activities that resulted in a death, and populations that are at greater risk of dying. National parks and programs use these data to prioritize safety projects and prevent injuries. Park managers also rely on this information to plan operations and target resources to save lives. Examples of visitor safety projects at parks include:

  • High visibility traffic safety enforcement campaigns
  • Preventive search and rescue (PSAR) programs
  • Injury prevention campaigns such as drowning prevention, heat safety, safe distance from wildlife, etc.
  • Life jacket loaner stations

How Can Visitors Use the NPS Mortality Dashboard?

We want to empower you to plan for and have a fun and injury-free visit to a national park! From a comfortable walk in an air-conditioned museum to multi-day backcountry trips, national parks offer a wide range of experiences for you and your family and friends. You can find activities that match your level of skill, fitness, and outdoor experience.

It is important to understand that recreational activities can come with risks, some that are very serious, to your safety and health. You have a responsibility for your safety when visiting a national park. It is essential that you identify these risks and plan appropriately for your national park trip.

Did you know that common activities such as driving and swimming are leading to most of the unintentional deaths reported in parks? Before you leave for your national park trip, are you considering how driving on a park road is different from other roads? If you are planning to recreate on, near or in water, do you know how swimming in natural waters (rivers, lakes, oceans) is different than swimming in a swimming pool? We have developed resources to help you learn about hazards in parks and safety tips to help reduce your risk of injury:

Armed with this knowledge, you can begin to Plan like a Park Ranger and make the most of your visit to a national park!

About the Data

What Are the Key Terms Used on This Dashboard?

  • Mortality another word for death
  • Intent Identifies whether a death was caused by an act carried out on purpose (by oneself or by another person), an unintended and unplanned act, or a natural/medical event.
  • Intentional – death resulting from purposeful harmful actions upon oneself (suicide) or others (homicide) or due to legal intervention.
  • Medical death resulting from natural or medical related causes (e.g., seizure, heart attack), when sedentary or during physical activity, and are not due to intentional or unintentional causes.
  • Unintentional death that occur without the intention of hurting oneself or others which result in damage to the body from acute exposure to kinetic, thermal, electrical, or chemical energy or from the absence of such essentials as heat or oxygen (e.g., drownings, motor vehicle crash, fall, poisoning, hypothermia, thermal burns).
  • Undetermined – deaths where the intent could not be determined due to one of the following reasons:
    • Official intent classified as “Undetermined”
    • Insufficient information in the incident report to determined intent
    • Record is restricted in the source system of record
    • Data captured by an outside agency (e.g., local law enforcement agency)

Access the Data Dictionary [PDF, 313KB] to find definitions for additional terms used in the dashboard.

What Data Does the NPS Mortality Dashboard Include?

The NPS Mortality dashboard includes data on incidents that met the following criteria:
  • Reported between calendar year 2014 and 2019
  • Validated by the NPS for official release
  • The incident either began or ended within the park’s boundary
  • The individual was not on-duty (i.e., working) at the time of the incident

The dashboard excludes:

  • Incidents that began and ended outside park boundaries (e.g., NPS law enforcement aids a local law enforcement agency in the local community)
  • On-duty NPS employees, volunteers, contractors, and concessioners
  • On-duty employees, volunteers, and contractors of another agency/entity
  • Data from calendar year 2007 to 2013 that is not validated
  • Data from calendar year 2020 to the present that is not validated

How Is the NPS Mortality Dashboard Created and Maintained?

The National Park Service (NPS) mortality data provides a summary of deaths reported by national parks. Death data is collected from several NPS systems of record and media reports.The data are combined and validated to create the NPS mortality dataset. This dataset is used to create the NPS mortality dashboard.

Why Does the NPS Mortality Dashboard Only Include Data from CY2014 to CY2019?

This is the most recent validated death data by NPS. Data validation is completed to ensure the accuracy of the data. The validation process includes quality checks and coordination with each reporting park unit. Preliminary data for calendar year 2020 to present is available in the NPS mortality dataset. These data have not undergone the validation process and are subject to change as information continues to be collected and analyzed. The NPS is working to validate and finalize all records before publishing them in the NPS mortality dashboard.

Where Can I Find a Spreadsheet of Available NPS Death Data?

The mortality dataset is available for download as a spreadsheet. It includes death data from calendar year 2007 to the most current update. These are the best available data at the time of collection.

NPS Mortality Data 2007–2024 [XSLX, 212KB]

What is the most dangerous park?

We are asked this question a lot. Check out our "What is the Most Dangerous Park" article to learn our answer.

Last updated: May 21, 2024