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Missing in National Parks

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Hundreds of people go missing in national parks without a trace, but who (or what) is taking them?

Recently on the true crime side of TikTok, a popular video entertainment platform, stories about missing people have been on the rise to spread awareness. Out of this genre, a subcategory emerged of people who have gone missing within national parks and have never been found. Approximately 52.2 million acres of land are protected by national parks, which leaves a lot of uncharted territory where anything can happen. Many people have their own speculations as to what they believe caused these disappearances, or what they claim to have experienced themselves. 

Over the past couple of months, people have been posting videos about their own strange experiences in national parks or sharing stories of those who went missing previously. User @ariellegonzalezz asked if other users had heard of Missing 411, a new Netflix show. This particular show discusses the book series by David Paulides, where five children mysteriously went missing in the North American wilderness over a span of decades. Somehow, Paulides suspects that the cases are eerily related. Gonzalez also revealed how the National Park Service stated that a missing persons list from the parks does not exist, and would cost over $1.4 million to create and maintain. Many of her comments told an even more disturbing story, one of possible feral people preying on innocent travelers. 

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Other users like @sarebearrr_ made a disturbing connection to missing persons cases in Missing 411, lining up with the cave systems in national parks. She was able to link two maps side-by-side detailing this coincidence, saying, “These caves are massive, massive, massive, and they go on for miles and miles and miles. So, it’s kind of interesting to see what could be down there.” Are these caves lining up with mysterious disappearances a sign, or are they simply a coincidence? Many people have begun to speculate the possibility of someone, or something, that inhabits the parks.

The first major speculation that has been popular amongst TikTok users recently is the rumor of feral people. Popular amongst social media users of other sites like Reddit and Twitter as well, feral people are believed to taunt and stalk campers or hikers in the wilderness of national parks for their own enjoyment. They also are believed to have cannibalistic tendencies, with many people perpetuating this idea due to the alarming amount of people who have gone missing. They are said to throw things at visitors, taunt them, laugh, or even scream late at night to startle them. While there is no substantive evidence currently that can prove feral people with cannibalistic tendencies do live out there, it is also a possibility. While this is an idea favored on social media, there is another even darker conspiracy that might explain what is responsible for the disappearances instead of who.

Along with the phenomena of the national parks have come rumors about the existence of skinwalkers. These creatures are described to be horrifying, with elongated features that go along with their tall and extremely skinny nature. These humanoid figures are dangerous and can mimic or disguise themselves as other things, much like the account from TikTok user @halesyesshistory. She says that while visiting her in-laws in New Hampshire, she had a possible skinwalker encounter after hearing her daughter calling her name outside. When she went to check on her daughter, though, she was and had been sound asleep. These creatures are not only the root of many nightmares, but also are thought to be a possible explanation as to why so many people go missing in the wilderness. It seems that out of nowhere these people are whisked away, leaving without a trace. While there are many people who believe that these humanoids explain the unexplainable, there are others who do not buy it. Regardless, something out there is responsible for the countless disappearances in the national parks.

A quick search to www.nps.gov shows a massive page of cold cases, all of which involve people missing from various national parks around the United States. While talking about missing people is a current trend on the TikTok platform, it is an important one that keeps memories alive and information fresh in peoples’ minds. Whether or not these disappearances are caused by feral people, skinwalkers, or other causes might never come to light. It is important though to keep investigating, and to always wonder who- or what- might be out there.

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Intern Article Writer | Website | Posts

Sadie is an Intern Article Writer and Senior English Major at the University of Central Arkansas. In her spare time, she enjoys watching horror movies, reading, and spending time with her guinea pigs, Ginger and Spike.