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Fury as tourists caught trespassing on Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring: ‘Unrepairable damage’

The Independent logo The Independent 18/08/2022 Graig Graziosi
Screen Shot 2022-08-18 at 1.59.11 PM.png © screengrab/Instagram/Tourons of Yellowstone Screen Shot 2022-08-18 at 1.59.11 PM.png

To enjoy some of the most incredible sights the US has to offer, tourists need only pay to access the national parks and follow a few simple rules – leave no trace, don't get close to the animals and stay on the trail.

And yet so many often don't.

A video showing a pair of tourists ignoring the simple rules went viral, stirring disappointment, exasperation and outrage on social media.

In the clip, which was posted to the "Tourons of Yellowstone" — "touron" being a combination of the words tourist and moron — Instagram, a pair of tourists can be seen standing dangerously close to the edge of Yellowstone National Park's Grand Prismatic Spring to take photos.

Not only do they risk falling into the geyser, burning to death and then having their bodies dissolved to the point of being unrecoverable, they also were trampling the delicate ecosystem that makes up the land surrounding the geysers.

Falling into the geyser is not the only risk tourists take when they leave the marked trails in the area; the ground surrounding the geysers is often unstable, and enough weight on a weak spot could drop a tourist into a scalding sinkhole. Which would likely also lead to the their death.

It's not hard to stay on the trails, especially near the geysers, where boardwalks have been constructed specifically to guide tourists and keep them off the surrounding ground to avoid damage to the natural landscape — and avoid deaths.

The park is so adamant about driving home the danger of irresponsible recreating that its giftshop sells a book called "Death in Yellowstone." The first chapter is called "Death in Hot Water."

Social media users skewered the ignorant tourists, calling for them to be fined "$10,000" and to be subject to a "permanent ban in all national parks."

“So sad – they’re doing unrepairable damage to that area,” Kayla, a commenter on the video, wrote.

A former parks worker and current editor of Hunt & Fish, Rachelle Schrute, made it clear that tourists ignoring basic safety and conservation practices left her exasperated.

“This. This is why working in the park aged me 10 years in just a few seasons,” she wrote in a comment.

Visits to US national parks has boomed in recent years, thanks in part to the pandemic forcing people to recreate outdoors. National park visitation, particularly in the 25 most popular parks, set records in 2021. While this provides an economic boon for the surrounding area and money in the federal coffer, it also results in long waits, crowding, and damage to the delicate ecosystems protected within the parks.

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