Drunk Guy Walks on Thermal Features in Yellowstone

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A boardwalk next to a geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

In 2016, a man fell into a mud pot at Yellowstone National Park and died. In 2021, a Connecticut woman spent seven days in jail for walking on the geothermal features. And in 2023, a Hawaii man picked up a bison calf and received a fine for intentionally disturbing wildlife. 

Recently, another tourist made headlines by walking on Yellowstone’s fragile thermal features while intoxicated. The news stories and social media blasts just keep coming. 

Why do tourists feel it necessary to ignore the warnings when they visit this beautiful national treasure?

Where Is Yellowstone National Park?

Yellowstone National Park is one of the largest in the United States, at over 2.2 million acres. It sits in the northwest corner of Wyoming and crosses slightly into neighboring Montana and Idaho. 

Grand Teton National Park lies south, and many travelers visit both national parks during the same visit. The Colter Bay Visitor Center in the Tetons sits about an hour from the Grant Village Visitor Center in Yellowstone.

View of Yellowstone National Park with the park sign.

What Is Yellowstone Known For?

Yellowstone is known for being the first national park in the world. President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act on March 1, 1872. Tourists from all over travel to this remote section of Wyoming to visit the unique geothermal features of the park.

Old Faithful is the most famous geyser in the world due to its predictability. Every 44 minutes, this cone geyser will erupt and shoot boiling water over 100 feet into the air.

The Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park is the tallest active geyser in the world. It has shot water over 300 feet into the air. However, it’s very unpredictable, with eruptions coming every few days or decades.

It’s estimated that there are 10,000 geothermal features in Yellowstone, including about half the world’s active geysers. Hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles are also abundant.

The Yellowstone Caldera is the largest supervolcano in North America. Yellowstone Lake sits over the caldera and is one of the largest high-elevation lakes on the continent.

Besides the high concentration of geothermal features, Yellowstone National Park has an abundance of wildlife. It has the largest concentration of mammals in the contiguous United States.

Visitors have ample opportunities to see bighorn sheep, bison, elk, moose, mountain goats, mule deer, pronghorn, black bears, Canada lynx, coyotes, grizzly bears, mountain lions, wolverines, and wolves roaming freely in the park.

A boardwalk at Yellowstone National Park.

Is Yellowstone a Dangerous Place to Visit?

Because of the abundance of wildlife and the geothermal features, Yellowstone National Park can be a dangerous place to visit. However, if you follow the National Park Service guidelines, you shouldn’t fear for your safety.

For example, don’t leave your vehicle if you see a bison crossing. Stay on the walkways and behind the protected overlooks when viewing the Grand Prismatic Spring.

You shouldn’t miss the beauty and wonder of Yellowstone National Park. There’s a reason three to four million people visit the park annually. But obeying the rules and behaving appropriately is vital to enjoying the experience.

Drunk Guy Walks on Thermal Features in Yellowstone

However, another person has made the news by acting idiotically at Yellowstone National Park. He got banned for life from the national park and now faces federal charges. 

Jason Wicks, a Michigan man, walked one of Yellowstone’s trails in August while intoxicated. Instead of remaining on the pathway, he ventured onto a geothermal pool where he was burned. A trial date hasn’t been set yet.

Have People Died While Visiting Yellowstone?

Not only is walking on the geothermal features at Yellowstone National Park illegal, but it’s also hazardous. These features are extremely hot and acidic. The surface is also fragile and can crumble in an instant.

Over the last 20 years, approximately 3,000 people have died in America’s national parks. That may seem like a lot, but remember that over three billion people visited our nation’s treasures over that time frame.

Most of these deaths were due to automobile accidents, falls, and drownings. About 50 people have lost their lives in Yellowstone, most due to leaving designated boardwalks and entering geothermal areas.

Pro Tip: Are you wanting to visit Yellowstone in your RV? We’ve got you covered! Check out these tips to planning the perfect RV trip to Yellowstone.

Follow the National Park Service Tips to Stay Safe at Yellowstone

As mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t worry about visiting Yellowstone National Park. As long as you follow the National Park Service’s tips and signage, you’ll safely enjoy this majestic national park’s awe and magnificence.

Stay on Trails and Boardwalks

The most important piece of advice is to remain on the designated pathways. Don’t leave the trail or boardwalk to get a closer look.

We recently wrote an article about a tourist who wanted to touch a hot spring. Don’t make the news by doing something stupid like this.

Also, keep children close. Even the most well-behaved kids are curious. Prevent slips and falls by keeping a close eye on your children and ensuring they stay on the trails.

Keep Your Distance From Wildlife

You’ll likely see bison and other large mammals while visiting Yellowstone National Park. Never approach wildlife. Don’t attempt to get that picture-perfect selfie. Those people will get banned from national parks and scorned on social media.

Remain in your vehicle if there’s wildlife crossing. Keep your distance if you’re walking a trail and see wildlife nearby. Again, keep your children close.

Wildlife walking around Yellowstone National Park.

Leave Your Pets at Home

Finally, Yellowstone isn’t a dog-friendly national park. While other places are great for hiking and paddling with your furry friend, Yellowstone is unique.

It’s unsafe for pets due to the geothermal features and roaming wildlife. Should the leash break or a pet wander off, sad consequences could occur.

Keep in Mind: What Is the Yellowstone Zone of Death? Click the link to find out!

Don’t Make Headlines on Your Next Visit to Yellowstone

Over 200 million visitors have walked the boardwalks of Yellowstone National Park. The vast majority of them visit safely, adhering to posted warnings and enjoying all this park has to offer.

But the ones that make the headlines have you scratching your head and wondering Why? Don’t get yourself banned or get charged with a federal crime.

View the magnificent colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring. Walk the boardwalks above the steaming Mammoth Hot Springs. Admire the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

When you visit Yellowstone National Park, take it all in, and then return home safely to tell your family and friends about this spectacular place.

Have you ever witnessed a tourist acting dangerously at Yellowstone National Park?

1 comment
  1. It looks like all of these people should have known better but the man from Hawaii in particular. Hawaii residents always want their land to be respected and taken care of. And their monk seals to be left undisturbed. He should return the favor when he comes to the Mainland.

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