January 29, 2024 | Kaddy Gibson

America’s Most Dangerous Tourist Destinations


America’s Most Dangerous Tourist Destinations

If you’re looking to add a little risk to your next vacation, America has no shortage of thrilling destinations. To help you decide where to go, check out this short guide on the most dangerous tourist destinations in the country.

America’s Most Dangerous Tourist Destinations

New Smyrna and Daytona Beach, Florida

Located in sunny Volusia County, New Smyrna and Daytona Beach are two of the most dangerous beaches in the country. While the pristine sands and waters are the perfect place to sunbathe and surf, there’s danger lurking here.

New Smyrna BeachGary J. Wood, CC BY-SA 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons

New Smyrna and Daytona Beach, Florida (cont’d)

New Smyrna beach is called the “shark bite capital of the world”, and with good reason. Every year, more people are bitten by sharks in these waters than anywhere else in the United States. In 2022, Florida made up nearly 30% of the world’s unprovoked shark bites, so swim at your own risk.

New Smyrna sharksFWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Flickr

Huntington Beach, California

Huntington Beach in Orange County is one of the country's most popular spots for surfers. It’s been called “Surf City USA” and offers miles of sandy beach as well as one of the Pacific coast's longest piers, which stretches on for 564m (1,850 feet). But these beautiful shores are deceptively dangerous.

Huntington State BeachKen Lund, Flickr

Huntington Beach, California (cont’d)

In October 2019, the stingrays attacked, and a record-breaking 176 people got stung in just one day. The rays had swum into the shallow waters, scaring and injuring unsuspecting beach-goers. These animals still swim in these waters, so watch out if you decide to dip your toes in. 

Huntington Beach in Orange CountyKen Lund, Flickr 

Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley is one of America's best spots for stargazing. However, this gorgeous place is full of danger, from blistering heat and deadly flash floods to rattlesnakes and scorpions.

Death Valley National ParkTony Webster, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Death Valley National Park, California (cont’d)

Death Valley is the hottest, driest place in America, which has led to several fatalities. Heart-related complications and heat stroke cane easily ruin a vacation here, so take extra water and really good map if you’re feeling brave enough to explore this park.

Death Valley National Park roadRuggyBearLA, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Red Triangle, California

Stretching from Bodega Bay down to Big Sur and around the Farallon Islands, California’s Red Triangle is one of the most beautiful locations in all of America. It's the perfect home for seals, sea lions, and other marine life—which is exactly why it’s so dangerous.

Bodega Bay, Californiaddub3429, Shutterstock

Red Triangle, California (cont’d)

All that marine life attracts a lot of great white sharks. The area is home to so many great whites that 11% of the total great white shark attacks on humans worldwide have occurred within the Red Triangle.

Central Californian Coastline, Big SurDiliff, CC BY-SA 3.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Pikes Peak, Colorado

Pikes Peak is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Rocky Mountains, but it’s also incredibly dangerous—though probably not for the reason you think. Sure, avalanches and falls from the trail are risks. But the real threat is the lightning.

View of Pikes peak through the hole in the Siamese Twins red rock formationEQRoy, Shutterstock

Pikes Peak, Colorado (cont’d)

Standing miles above the ground, the peak makes for a brilliant lightning rod. Get stuck out there on a stormy day, and you’re likely to get the shock of your life—literally.

Pikes PeakJessica R. McNair, Shutterstock

Mount St. Helens, Washington

Offering over 322km (200 miles) of trails and photogenic lakes, Mount St Helens is a popular hiking area, and most visitors climb to the peak's summit and survey its mile-wide crater. It's even been dubbed the Mount Fuji of America. However, this natural tourist attraction has erupted twice in the past few decades, and taken many lives.

Mount St. Helens, WashingtonCraigdickson1067, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Mount St. Helens, Washington (cont’d)

The worst eruption was in 1960, and 60 people lost their lives. This eruption has been described as the most worst in US history, and the site was closed down until 1986. The active volcano is closely monitored today, and it’s expected to erupt again soon.

Mount St. Helens Ski Area  1960Kelly Michals, Flickr

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s most revered natural wonders and popular attractions. But even though millions of tourists visit each year, the site comes with several dangers.

Grand Canyon ArizonaTobias Alt, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Grand Canyon, Arizona (cont’d)

Between 2018 and 2020, the Grand Canyon was the site for the most search and rescue efforts in any national park. In August 2022, a hiker fell to his demise, while January 2023 saw another unfortunate hiker airlifted to hospital.

Grand CanyonDrenaline, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Dalton Highway

Dalton Highway is one of the world’s most isolated roads—and one of the most dangerous. The two-lane gravel road starts just north of Fairbanks and ends at the Prudhoe Bay oil fields, spanning 666km (414 miles).

Dalton HighwayBureau of Land Management, Flickr

Dalton Highway (cont’d)

There are only three places to stop for gas on the highway, not to mention the freezing weather and giant potholes. In September 2021, a man perished following after head-on collision with another vehicle.

Dalton HighwayKaren Deatherage, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Denali, Alaska

You can head along Denali Park Road for unparalleled views of the massive mountain. However, some people are determined to go further and scale the peak which can be very dangerous.

Road In Denali National ParkD. Sikes, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Denali, Alaska (cont’d)

The mountain is undeniably beautiful, but it can be extremely difficult to climb. Your chance of success when it comes to reaching the top is only 50%, and more than 100 people have perished during their attempt to reach the summit.

Denali national parkNational Parks Gallery, Picryl

Yellowstone National Park, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming

Yellowstone is America's oldest national park, and tourists are still enchanted by the natural wonders of this 2.2 million-acre site. The park is home to more than 10,000 geothermal sites, like Old Faithful Geyser and Mammoth Hot Springs, while eagles, wolves, and bison are part of the diverse wildlife in this area.

Yellowstone National ParkJrmichae, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Yellowstone National Park, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming (cont’d)

All that beauty doesn’t mean Yellowstone is kind to visitors. The geysers can cause third-degree burns and even kill people; since 2000,  there have been more than 20 deaths. Some visitors have also been on the receiving end of bison attacks. The national park recommends that people stay at least 23m (75 feet) from away the park's animals.

American Bison (Yellowstone)Stephen Pribut, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Silverton Mountain, Colorado

Silverton Mountain is the highest and steepest ski slope in America. It has 69 trails which are all rated for expert skiers only. That means you risk this slope at your own peril.

Silverton Mountain, ColoradoAlan Stark, Flickr

Silverton Mountain, Colorado (cont’d)

With such steep terrain and more than 400 inches of snowfall each year, avalanches are always a risk in on this mountain. In February 2021, three skiers perished trying to traverse the mountain.

Silverton, COAlan Stark, Flickr

Lake Of The Ozarks, Missouri

Taking up more than 50,000 acres, the Lake of the Ozarks draws in millions of visitors every year. The beaches here are lovely, but there's no lifeguards around, which makes for a dangerous place to have fun.

Lake Of The Ozarks, MissouriBen Jacobson, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Lake Of The Ozarks, Missouri (cont’d)

Boating accidents are common in this area. In July 2022, a boater perished when they were thrown overboard, and in November 2022, two swimmers drowned near the Bagnell Dam area.

Bagnell Dam SpillwaysUnifadenfisch, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Welcome to the home of two of the most active volcanoes on Earth: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. This area is the perfect place for an unforgettable hike or scenic drive if you're willing to risk the danger.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HawaiiKen Lund from Reno, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii (cont’d)

The volcanoes are still active and Mount Kilauea's most recent eruption occurred in September 2023, filling the air with smoke and creating new lava flows. To date, four people have lost their lives because of this volcano, but these eruptions always lead to a spike in visitors who are eager to witness the rare beauty of the volcanoes. 

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HawaiiKen Lund, CC BY-SA 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons 

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns is where you'll find the 'Big Room', which is 1,219m (4,000 feet) long, 191m (625 feet) wide and 107m (350 feet) high. The area is also home to incredible rock formations like the Devil’s Spring, the Whale’s Mouth, the Hall of the White Giant. But you'd better watch your step as you explore these caverns. 

Carlsbad CavernsDaniel Schwen, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons 

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico (cont’d)

The greatest danger in Carlsbad Caverns is completely invisible. Deadly levels of radon, a gas that can cause lung cancer,  were discovered in the cave a few years ago. Since then, the National Park Service has created a plan to keep tourists and staff as safe as possible.

Giant Stalagmites In Carlsbad Big RoomWing-Chi Poon, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Zion National Park, Utah

Angels Landing in Zion National Park is a breathtaking landscape that rivals the Grand Canyon. Hiking here starts off easy enough, but it quickly turns into one of the deadliest trails in America.

Angels Landing in Zion National Parksdnet01, Needpix

Zion National Park, Utah (cont’d)

If you manage to reach the last ridge on the trail, watch out for the crowd of other tourists. Between 2000 and 2021, at least 13 people have lost their lives on this trail from falling, even though there are chains installed along the route. 

The crowds got so bad that in April 2022, the National Park Service responded to concerns about crowding on the trail by making permits to reach the top.

Angels Landing in Zion National ParkUdo S, Flickr


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