North America

Tourists find danger at Yellowstone

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This week saw a particularly gruesome death at Yellowstone national park. Colin Scott, a tourist from Oregon, was visiting the park with his sister when he disregarded park rules that require visitors to stay on designated paths.

Scott left the trail to enter a restricted area, reportedly in order to get a closer look at a geothermal geyser. While walking towards the hot spring, Scott slipped and fell through a crust of earth and into the geyser.

Despite the efforts of park rangers, Scott’s remains have not been recovered, and the search has been called off. Hot Springs at Yellowstone often reach boiling temperatures, and the acidity of the water has likely dissolved any trace of Scott’s body.

This isn’t the first time someone has died at Yellowstone after falling into a hot spring, though it has been almost sixteen years since it last happened in 2000 when a park employee fell into a boiling pool of water while walking through the park at night.

Part of the allure of Yellowstone, which sits above a semi-active super-volcano, is the majestic technicolor hues of the sulfurous springs, yet often these can prove deadly as dozens of visitors have found since the park’s opening more than a century ago.

Nor are the hot springs the only potential danger inside America’s first national park. The untamed wilderness of the park is often its greatest draw, but it can prove deadly to the unwary.

Yellowstone is home to some of the world’s most incredible animal species, yet interactions between them and people can often result in tragedy. Grizzly bears reside in Yellowstone and have been known to maul people who failed to give them a wide berth or simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time. But grizzly bears are not the only dangerous animal in the Park. Moose, wolves, and buffalo are all found within Yellowstone, and all capable of easily killing a human, which makes the need for caution vital.

There are a number of things visitors can do to ensure that their experience in the breath-taking beauty of the park remains a pleasant one. First, always obey park rules. They are there for your protection. Second, respect wildlife. Never get too close, and any animal you see in Yellowstone could react unpredictably if you approach it. Take the proper precautions to avoid attracting wildlife to you. Put all food in appropriate containers and store it away from your campsite. Finally, don’t take stupid risks. If something looks dangerous, it probably is. Listen to your gut and don’t do anything that could endanger your life.

This is not to suggest that Yellowstone is unsafe. Millions visit the park every year and deaths are extremely rare. You should not let the statistically insignificant risk stop you from experiencing one of the natural wonders of the world. Just make sure to be careful.

For all of its tourist infrastructure, Yellowstone remains wild, which s what we love about it. Yet we must always remember that mother nature deserves our respect, and that means taking the proper precautions to stay safe.

Wyatt is a writer and your friend. You can follow him on Twitter @WyattRedd.

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