Outside Magazine, a popular national publication recently ranked Lake Mead as the top deadliest national park in America.
Lake Mead doesn’t have the steep cliffs of the Grand Canyon, nor does it have the trek wading the river through the Narrows at Zion, but since 2006, the park has seen 278 fatalities.
According to Outside Magazine, that’s roughly 100 more than second-ranked Yosemite and third-ranked Grand Canyon.
“Wow that just amazes me,” said Sue Waltz, a regular visitor of Lake Mead. “I don’t understand why its the deadliest. I mean, if people follow the rules and do common sense i just cant understand why it would be called the deadliest.”
Waltz and her family aren’t the only ones baffled by the park’s dangers.
“I don’t consider it the deadliest,” said Charles Morissette. “I went hiking in the Rocky Mountains, and there you have to take care of the grizzlies.”
Roughly, one-third of the parks fatalities in the past 10 years are due to drownings in the lake. Drownings are also the most common deaths in national parks across the country, according to District Ranger Matt Stark.
“We take a multiple prong approach to safety,” Stark said. “We look at what our visitors are; where they’re recreating, and we try to counter some of the activities that get people hurt.”
Stark says it’s also important for risk takers who cliff dive, drink and drive or boat under the influence to take their open responsibility.
“I think you have to take a little bit of ownership in what it is you’re trying to do,” according to Stark. “You have to recognize that swimming out here in the lake is different then your pool at home.”
Currently, Lake Mead has seen three deaths. Two of those people died from “natural” causes. The third death is unknown.