HARRISBURG (TNS) — The big, wild national parks of the American West top the list for numbers of search-and-rescue operations needed by visitors, as would naturally be expected.
But eastern parks and public lands, including those in Pennsylvania, also see their share of lost, injured or otherwise stranded visitors.
Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona saw 785 incidents of search and rescue from 2018 through 2020, the most for any site in the national park system, according to an analysis of the data obtained under a Freedom of Information request by Outforia, an outdoor adventure website.
In Pennsylvania, the site with the most search-and-rescue operations was Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area near Stroudsburg, with rescuers called out 45 times from 2018 through 2020. That ranked the recreation area at No. 37 among all national park sites in the need for search and rescue.
Other sites in Pennsylvania are Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreation River, near Honesdale, 45 incidents, ranking it No. 37 nationally; Independence National Historic Park, Philadelphia, 71 incidents, No. 71; Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which runs through Pennsylvania and 13 other states, 10 incidents, No. 91; Gettysburg National Military Park, five incidents, tied with several other sites at No. 111; and Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Park, Gallitzin, and Valley Forge National Historic Park, in the southeastern corner of the state, each with one incident, tied with many other sites at No. 138.
Nationally, with Grand Canyon at the top of the list are Yosemite National Park, California, 732 search and rescue operations, No. 2; Sequoia and Kings Canyonnational parks, California, 503, No. 3; Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, 371, No. 4; Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 341, No. 5; Zion National Park, Utah, 285, No. 6; Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah, 279, No. 7; Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 224, No. 8; Olympic National Park, Washington, 204, No. 9; and Arches National Park, Utah, 202, No. 10.
There were 8,088 incidents nationally from 2018 through 2020. California sites accounted for nearly a quarter of the total, with 1,868 search-and-rescue incidents across the state. Other top states were Arizona, 1,643; Utah, 1,043; Nevada, 871; Wyoming, 618; Montana, 547; Washington, 465; Colorado, 415; Idaho, 371; and North Carolina, 323. Pennsylvania ranked No. 14, with 200 incidents.
Outforia noted that Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park, with an area of 369.3 square miles and elevations up to 14,000 feet, has the most incidents that are still open, 101 of 146, and Utah’s Arches National Park, with a semi-arid climate and temperatures at hot and cold extremes, has the most unfound cases, with just six of 202 search-and-rescue efforts failing to rescue the person.