10 Mysterious Disappearances in National Parks

Alfred Beilhartz, 1938
Rocky Mountain National Park provided the setting for the disappearance of 5-year-old Alfred Beilhartz. Marie Bush/Jaynes Gallery/DanitaDelimont.com/Getty Images

Five-year-old Alfred Beilhartz is the first recorded drowning in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park, though whether Beilhartz actually drowned is controversial [source: Vistaramic Journeys]. He was camping in the park with his family over the July Fourth weekend when he disappeared near the Roaring and Fall Rivers.

Beilhartz had gone with his dad to bathe in the river, and from there he decided to join two family friends at a spot about 500 feet (150 meters) upstream of where he and his father entered the river. When everyone returned to camp, they realized that Beilhart was missing. A search began immediately, expanding to more than 100 Civilian Conservation Corps members within 45 minutes, but there was barely any sign of Beilhart anywhere [source: Evans].

A day after he disappeared, a couple hiking about 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) away from Beilhartz's campsite reported seeing a boy who looked like Alfred sitting in an area called The Devil's Nest [source: Vistaramic Journeys]. By the time authorities arrived, though, the boy was gone.

The search went on for 10 days and included 150 men plus bloodhounds, though the size of the search party had dwindled to a dozen by the end of the eighth day [source: Evans]. Park rangers chalked his disappearance up to drowning.