Revealed: the top 10 most dangerous natural attractions in the world – and they’re nearly all mountains

Climber on steep, exposed snowy summit of Europe's tallest peak, Mt Blanc
(Image credit: Heath Korvola / Getty Images)

There is, sadly, a tragic downside to adventure tourism. Adrenalin junkies may spurn beach holidays, art galleries and theme parks in search of the kind of exquisite excitement on an element of genuine risk can generate, but the cost is potentially the highest price of all. 

And some of the biggest natural draws for thrill seekers are also the deadliest destinations: mountains. And that’s not just hyperbole based on gut feeling – it’s not official.

Because holiday rental company Holidu has conducted research into the most dangerous attractions in the world, and nine of the top 10 spots are mountains, with Europe’s tallest peak taking the dubious pole position

Here’s that Top 10 in full (with average annual deaths / average annual notable accidents):

  1. Mont Blanc, France and Italy (100 / 22)
  2. Ben Nevis, UK (3 / 20)
  3. Mount Fuji, Japan (7 / 11)
  4. Mount Everest, China and Nepal (8 / 7)
  5. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (10 / 8)
  6. Yosemite National Park, US (11 / 41)
  7. Table Mountain, South Africa (15 / 11)
  8. The Matterhorn, Switzerland (12 / 14)
  9. The Grand Canyon, USA (12 / 21)
  10. The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland (9 / 12)

In total, these natural attractions account for an average 215 deaths a year, with Mont Blanc way out in the front with around 100 deaths each year. 

It’s worth noting that the list is weighted to take into account the number of visitors that each attraction draws each year. That’s why Scotland’s Ben Nevis makes a perhaps surprising appearance at number two: although it sees far fewer annual deaths than Mont Blanc, it welcomes significantly fewer tourists each year and so, upon comparison, it’s actually presents a greater risk.

Kaaterskill Falls

Small but deadly, the Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskill Mountains of New York (Image credit: DACowley / Getty Images)

Holidu also points out, “The natural wonder that is the most frequently reported on in the context of accidents is Yosemite National Park in California, United States. The National Park was referred to in 41 different news reports in 2019 about tourist accidents, many being linked to climbing incidents.”

With Britain’s The Lake District (17 / 27) at number 11, the first ‘non-climbing-related’ natural attraction on the list is the the USA’s Colorado River (7 / 7) at number 12.

Meanwhile the highest ranking waterfall is New York state’s two-stage Kaaterskill Falls, which, Holidu points out, isn’t deadly because of it’s height or width, but because of its beauty: “Reports claim that the last four people who died at Kaaterskill Falls were either taking or posing for a picture.”