Theories About Why National Parks Are A Hotbed For Disappearances

The National Parks and Forests of the United States are beautiful, serene places that showcase the natural beauty of America. But among those vast, wild parks lies a dark, often untold secret: thousands of people have mysteriously gone missing within these areas and no official explanation has ever been given. Even worse, no official count is available, as the National Parks Services can't always keep track of missing persons. So what happened to the people who disappeared in National Parks?


Like any unexplained phenomena, everyone has their theory. The creepy stories from National Parks - though unsolved and mysterious - often still have patterns. Whether rational or paranormal, these spine-chilling stories naturally inspire speculation about urban legends or worse. 


If you do have legitimate information about a missing person, you can report it to NPS Investigative Services, here

  • Missing People Might Have Been Eaten

    The National Parks of the US were established partly to preserve the plants, animals, and ecology of certain regions, so it certainly makes sense that humans stepping into these untamed areas should be careful. Bears, mountain lions, buffalo, and other dangerous animals call the National Parks home - and they've been known to attack people. 


    If it wasn't bears or mountain lions, however, some people speculate paranormal of cryptid creatures such as Bigfoot could have been involved. Believers often claim the missing people could have been used as a food source for these creatures and that's why so few are ever found. 

  • Some Blame An Evil Spirit Called A Wendigo
    Photo: Supernatural / The CW

    Some Blame An Evil Spirit Called A Wendigo

    The mysterious nature of the disappearances have led to paranormal theories blaming everything from crypto-zoological creatures to aliens. One of the less common theories is that the missing people were taken by an evil spirit called the Wendigo.


    To those who haven't watched the famous Supernatural episode, the Wendigo comes from Algonquin folklore, and is an evil spirit who terrorizes woods and forests. The US National Park land was taken from the same Algonquin tribes who believed in the Wendigo. 

  • People Are Sometimes Found Far From Where They Disappeared

    If a missing person does turn up deceased, the strange circumstances they’re found in generate more questions than answers. Occasionally, people have been found unbelievable distances from where they went missing.


    Though it's possible a person could wander a great distance after becoming lost, there are still some circumstances that are more complicated. A toddler once went missing and turned up 12 miles from where he vanished. Between those 12 miles were two mountain ranges and several creeks - much too far for a toddler to venture on his own.

  • Autopsies Rarely Determine The Cause Of Death

    In the rare event that a missing person is found deceased, the autopsy does not often communicate very conclusive information. In fact, most of the reported autopsies came back inconclusive, and pathologists aren't able to determine the cause of death.


    Some people use this as evidence for paranormal activity, but no one truly knows what happened. 

  • There's A Connection Between Missing People And Berries

    There are several "clusters" Paulides has found in common with the disappearances. Some - like people disappearing around bodies of water - are easily explained, as the number one cause of death in national parks over the past decade has been drowning, but others make less sense. One such cluster appears when looking at the amount of people who have gone missing near berry bushes.

    "People disappear and are found in the middle of berry bushes," Paulides claims. "They go missing while picking berries; and some are found while eating berries. The connection between some disappearances and berries cannot be denied."

  • An Army Veteran Reported A Strange Experience On A Hiking Trail 

    While going for a walk with his 2-year-old son on a well-maintained hiking trail, an Army veteran noticed the trail markings all around him were disappearing. When he looked back, he reported the trees and plants were different than he remembered. Then, he heard a snapping sound. According to him:

    My eyes started to fixate on a particularly unnerving dark section of the forest. For whatever reason, my entire body started locking up, and every single alarm bell in my head was pinging. No matter how hard I tried to focus on this dark patch, I couldn't see sh*t. I had the weirdest sensation of being able to see each individual branch and plant in high detail, but I couldn't focus on the scene overall. It was super blurry. I also felt my internal fight-or-flight mechanism flipping between the two decisions faster than a coin in a coin toss.