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Beautiful But Eerie: 5 US National Forest Mysteries

Beautiful But Eerie: 5 US National Forest Mysteries

With over 84 million acres of natural wonder, the United States National Park System is known for something other than breathtaking woods, mountains, waterfalls, and deserts: mysterious disappearances and unexplained phenomena. Drawn to the call of the open wild, many people found themselves in for far more than they intended. Below are some of the most bone-chilling mysteries everyone should know before they embark on their very own national park adventure.

5) David Gonzales

In the early morning of a typical summer day in 2004, nine-year-old David Gonzales asked his mother for the car keys to retrieve a sweet snack from the family car. Only 50 yards from the campsite, it was a shocking mystery when David failed to come back. With the car still locked, the cookies untouched in the backseat, and zero traces of David, both family and authorities were stunned. His mother stated she heard no screams or sounds of attack in the moments her back was turned from David but did see a tan truck speed out of the campground around the time her son went missing. About a year later, the boy’s remains were found about a mile from the campsite. Authorities officially declared his death was the result of a mountain lion attack—a strange conclusion when no sound or other signs of struggle were present.

4) Bessie and Glen Hyde

Newlyweds Bessie and Glen Hyde were enjoying their scenic honeymoon at Grand Canyon National Park in 1928 when the joyous occasion turned tragic. The couple had more than just relaxation in mind and were attempting to forge the Colorado River by scow, and if successful, Bessie would have been the first female to do so. That following winter, their boat was found seemingly untouched, full of supplies, and with no visible signs of a struggle. However, Glen and Bessie were nowhere to be seen. Theories include abduction or a nasty quarrel that turned violent, to name a few.

3) John Devine

Olympic National Park in northern Washington is not new to strange disappearances with at least four high-profile documented vanishings over the past 25 years. When experienced 73-year-old hiker John Devine went missing; no one could have been prepared for the tragedy that followed. After going missing on a solo hike, a fruitless week-long search ended in even more disaster when the search helicopter took-off abruptly despite the pilot announcing he was waiting five minutes for the inclement weather to pass. The helicopter crashed into a nearby mountainside killing three and injuring five. The truth behind the disappearance and the mysterious crash remain a mystery since 1997.

2) Dennis Martin

In what became the most extensive search in National Park Service history, the disappearance of Dennis Martin in 1969 did not have a happy ending. An annual family hiking trip for Father’s Day took a turn for the worst when the Martin family boys planned a light-hearted prank on their father and other adults on the trip. The boys were to hide then jump out from multiple angles surprising the adults, and when they all assumed their separate positions, Dennis vanished. Baffled by the absence of any tracks, the National Park Service ignored a seemingly far-fetched lead about a “bear-man” seen by a fellow family carrying something small on its back. Who knows—it may have been the key to Dennis’ disappearance.

1) Katherine Van Alst

In 1946, eight-year-old Katherine Van Alst was enjoying a family trip at Devil’s Den State Park in northwest Arkansas. What started off as a typical affair ended in a mysterious disappearance and the unlikely recovery of Katherine safe-and-sound a whole six days later. Found 30 miles away and 600 feet above the point she disappeared, the child emerged from a shallow cave with the strange and mysterious declaration, “Here I am.” Authorities noticed no signs of struggle or violence on the girl who was merely wearing a swimsuit throughout the whole ordeal.

It can be hard to ignore the majestic beauty of nature and consider the dangers and mysterious phenomenon that may lurk where it is least expected—but maybe, just maybe, it could be the difference between a scenic hike or a tragic turn of events.

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