7 Clueless Tourist Accidents in Yellowstone Park
Tourists behave spectacularly badly, occasionally with tragic results
Like anyone you've had over to your home, tourists can be delightful or the stuff of nightmares. One of America's most majestic and popular tourist destinations is Yellowstone National Park, which spreads across three states of the northwest. In recent years, it's also become a leader in headlines about tourists behaving spectacularly badly, occasionally with tragic results. Read on find out more about seven of these tourist accidents that occurred in Yellowstone Park.
In a 2022 incident Yellowstone officials posted on the park's website as a cautionary tale, a 70-year-old California man died after falling into the Abyss hot springs pool at Yellowstone Lake's West Thumb Geyser Basin. The water in the pool was more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and the man was burned over 90% of his body.
In 2021, a 25-year-old woman was gored by a bison near Old Faithful. The woman was walking along a boardwalk when approached the bison, coming within 10 yards of it, park authorities said. The bison charged her, goring her in the abdomen and throwing her 10 feet in the air, killing her. At Yellowstone National Park, visitors are required to stay at least 25 yards away from free-roaming bison. While the animals may seem docile, they can become defensive when approached and can run three times faster than a human.
In this 2016 incident, a 9-year-old girl was tossed into the air by a bison after she came too close to the animal. She was injured but survived. "I lived in Wyoming for 10 years, two times a parent tried to put their toddler on the back of a bison for a photo, it didn't go well either time," wrote one commenter on a YouTube video of the encounter. "There are signs all over the park warning people not to approach the animals, someone always does."
In June 2016, a 23-year-old Oregon man died after he fell into a spring at the Norris Geyser Basin, which had a temperature of nearly 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Colin Nathaniel Scott and his sister, Sable, had wandered nearly 700 feet off a boardwalk in the Back Basin of the Norris Geyser Basin that June. When the approached the hot spring, Colin Scott became curious. "As he approached the hot spring, we had heard that he was going to, or was attempting to, dip his toe into the hot spring, and he slipped or fell into it," Yellowstone spokeswoman Morgan Warthin told the National Parks Traveler. "With regards to the hot spring itself … the subsurface temperatures in the spring are super-heated, and it has a pH of close to 4. What that means is that it has a very high acidity." There were no remains left to recover, the Associated Press reported. "This tragic event must remind all of us to follow the regulations and stay on boardwalks," Yellowstone superintendent Wenk said.
On June 30, 2022, CBS News reported two tourists had been gored by bison at Yellowstone within three days. In one incident, a bison charged a family and gored the father, an incident that was caught on video. The attack occurred while the group walked along a boardwalk near the Giant Geyser at Old Faithful. The man was treated for minor injuries to his arm. Two days later, a 71-year-old woman was attacked by a bison after she approached it accidentally on her way back from a hiking excursion. She was briefly hospitalized for non-life-threatening injuries.
On May 9, Fox News reported on two men who approached a bison at Yellowstone and came within touching distance. This happened to the horror of a woman filming from a distance, who wondered if she's "have to become a first responder" in the event of an attack. That encounter apparently ended without incident, but in August 2018, Facebook video showed a man taunting a large bison on a road within the park. Visitors reported his behavior, and rangers issued the man two citations: "Feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentional disturbing of wildlife" and possession of an alcoholic beverage.
And in October 2021, a woman was severely burned after following her dog into a thermal feature at Yellowstone's Grave Spring, where the water temperature is about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. She suffered second-degree burns over 70% of her body and third-degree burns on 20%, requiring a four-month stay in the hospital. "A lot of people didn't think she'd survive, let alone be where she is now," the woman's sister told EastIdahoNews.com in February. "She's doing amazing. It's a miracle."