The Mysterious Disappearances In U.S. National Parks

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I’ll admit that I hadn’t listened to a lot of recently departed Art Bell and his paranormal-themed radio show Coast-to-Coast—but recently I caught up with an old broadcast of his about missing persons in U.S. national parks. According to author and investigator David Paulides, who Bell interviews, there have been an inordinate amount of never-explained missing person cases in these parks.

The cases include the lack of scent for dogs to track, often zero clues of any kind, and generally the feeling that these unfortunate people, who include some park workers, completely disappeared off the face of the Earth. Even when the bodies (mostly dead) are recovered, there are weird details like being found shoe- and/or clothingless; often discovered far away, next to rivers and creeks, and on top of mountains; and even storms happening immediately after the disappearance.

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Map of park disappearances, a number of them happening in clusters

If you think some people consider many of these disappearances to be paranormal in nature, you’d be correct—the most popular theories are Bigfoot and aliens.

But interestingly, at least in the undated Art Bell interview I listened to, Paulides plays it very cagey, refusing to say if he thinks the vanishings have a paranormal origin. His reasoning is that if he said something that seemed “crazy,” he would be immediately discredited and that would impede his individual investigations into the phenomenon.

One thing he did say, that the site Motherboard followed up on and confirmed as recently as last year, is the fact that the National Park Service appears to be extremely reluctant to give out data on these disappearances—even via FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) request. According to Outside, there are 1,600 individuals who have gone completely missing in these parks; this figure is based on the research of Paulides, who believes the actual # is far higher.

Of course, Occam’s razor here is that if you wanted to “pick off” victims, or even stage a murder, doing it in a remote campsite is a pretty great place to start (especially if you’re a transient, a cult member, one of the Devil’s Rejects, and etc.).

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Stacey Ann Arras, missing since 1981 from Yosemite National Park

On the other hand…considering many of these park sites are in some of the last “untouched” and “wild” areas in the United States…who the hell knows what’s really in there? Bigfeet, UFO abductions, portals, entrances to “hollow Earth” civilizations, and of course the maniac murderous cult member hypothesis again.

In the interview, Paulides, who is the author of a series of books on the subject called Missing 411, suggests the safest way to camp or hike in the woods is to carry your own firearm and have a portable transponder. Whatever the reasons for these disappearances, this seems like good advice (minding the Law, of course).