There’s no-one doubting that people go missing every day for a variety of reasons.  They may voluntarily leave their home without informing anyone, they may be taken by a person or persons known or unknown.  They could be involved in accidents where they are unidentified.  The list goes on and on and statistics show that thousands of people vanish in every country, every month.  But one researcher has noticed an interesting ‘hotspot’ of sorts where people seem to vanish rather frequently – the National Parks of the USA.

Missing persons

According to former police officer and current private investigator David Paulides there is a surprisingly large number of the people who go missing each year in the US do so from national parks.  Paulides has published four books on the subject and the thing they all have in common is that they don’t really have anything in common.

What the research has shown is that the disappearances take place in 52 geographic clusters with the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Pacific range being two of the biggest in terms of the numbers of the missing.  Spots in Colorado, Michigan, Georgia and Arkansas also make the list.  There are even similar hotspots in other countries in the world including in Europe and Canada.

National parks

There are 59 protected areas around the USA that are called national parks and these are operated by the National Park Service.  Parks are created by an Act of Congress and the first was Yellowstone, signed into law by President Ulysses S Grant in 1872, followed by Mackinac National Park three years later and then Rock Creek Park, Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890.

Twenty seven of the states have national parks with California leading the way with nine, followed by Alaska with eight and Utah with five.  The largest is Wrangell St Elias in Alaska that covers some 8 million acres and is larger than all of the nine smallest US states.  In total in 2015, the parks received some 307,247,252 visitors between them.



While the missing, on the surface, seem dissimilar, there are some similarities between the locations that they go missing from.  High altitude is a common theme, as are swamps and landscapes with a high number of boulders.  A proximity to berry patches is a strange one.

What the people do have in common is that many of them are physically fit, prepared for the terrain they went missing from and often even had weapons with them.  Many were familiar with the area and a large number went missing while hiking or camping – with friends and families.  Another worrying stat that Paulides discovered is that a large percentage were male and were either mentally handicapped or of an extremely high intelligence – these people were in the genius category.


Sadly, a good number don’t remain missing and some bodies have been found.  Even they are a little odd – being found without shoes and socks during the winter being one example.  In fact, shoes are rarely found.  A good few were also found at a far higher altitude than they were last spotted at, often in inaccessible spots.

One physician went hiking to a cabin with friends, a place he had been before.  The man was equipped with snow gear and in excellent physical condition.  He went missing after going ahead on the trail a short distance and was found two weeks later.  He was hundreds of feet higher than his last known position, in a steep ravine with all of his equipment with him, provisions unused and again, shoes missing.

Another example case was a girl who went horseback camping in a remote part of Yosemite National Park with a group of others including her own father.  She arrived and walked a short distance to a patch of trees then vanished.  Search parties were arranging, including bloodhounds, but no trace could be found.


Having written four books on the topic, Paulides has his own theories about what is happening with these people.  He doesn’t think a serial killer or series of them is involved nor does suicide or accidental drowning answer all the questions.

Other researchers have also studied his data and their possible explanations are as varied as the national parks themselves.  Some believe that these people have fallen victim to Bigfoot or another type of cryptid living in these remote areas.  Perhaps humans have become a convenience food source for these creatures but this doesn’t explain the lack of signs of being eaten.  In fact, bodies that have been recovered have been tricky to identify cause of death.

Other explanations including aliens or perhaps some kind of time or dimensional doorway where people are stepping from one reality to another and returning in a bad condition, far away from their original position.  This is given credence by the number of missing who are later found in areas that were intensively searched at the time.

The story continues…

There’s no doubt that there’s an interesting story or two in amongst all of this, though it is a little difficult to know what without information on the actual number of people who have gone missing in these parks.  One quote I read said there were no stats for missing people from national parks while another said the above author had been quoted a crazy figure of over $1 million to access this information (presume he didn’t take them up on that offer!).  So while the story continues, it seems we may have to wait a while before we hear the end.