Today 11 Hikers Will Require Rescue

A new study reveals national park search-and-rescue stats

Young male hikers, take heed: A new study says you’re the group most likely to need rescue!

The study, conducted by Travis Heggie, an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota, and published recently in the Wilderness of Environmental Medicine Journal, showed that the National Park Service takes on a daily average of 11 search-and-rescue missions. To reach his conclusions, Heggie examined park data from 1992-2007. He also said that in those 15 years young men, day hikers, and boaters needed rescue more than anyone else.

The study also revealed that a total of 65,000 rescue missions took place over the course of 15 years, with rescue costs exceeding $58 million. That might seem excessive, but when you consider that the NPS oversees 400 sites and is responsible for the safety of roughly 275 million annual visitors, 11 rescues a day counts as a fantastic track record.

Heggie's data also shows that Park Service rescue team help is often essential: According to the study, 20 percent of those most in need likely would have died without rescue.

But not all parks are equally dangerous: Heggie’s research also revealed that half of all rescue missions occurred in just five of the 400 parks and recreation areas. These rescue hotspots—Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain National Park, New York’s Gateway National Recreation Area, and Nevada’s Lake Mead National Recreation Area—receive high amounts of visitation each year, but it surely can't hurt to take extra care when you visit.

Have you ever required rescue or assistance while visiting a national park? Tell us about the experience in the comments section below.

––Jessie Lucier

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