A man has been caught dabbling his fingers in a boiling pool at Yellowstone National Park for attention, despite warnings from a companion, burning himself in the process.
The incident, which appears to have taken place during the summer, was shared via infamous Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which calls out examples of bad behavior at US National Parks. Other incidents posted in recent months have included a woman petting a bison’s head, a person chasing bears, and a man trying to take close-up photos of an elk (which goes poorly).
Commenters were shocked by the man not only touching the actively boiling water, but also crouching on the fragile ground right beside the pool, which is only a thin crust over scalding hot groundwater.
There were several close calls with hot springs, geysers, and pools last year, with visitors taking unnecessary risks for social media. In one case, a woman was recorded dabbling her fingers in Silex Spring, where the average water temperature is high enough to cause serious burns within three seconds. She jumped back after scalding herself.
“All too often, visitors blatantly disregard the clearly posted cautionary signs, leaving the boardwalk trails, which park rangers and park geologists place at a safe distance from dangerous features,” wrote Yellowstone Volcano Observatory in an article for the US Geological Survey in 2021.
“Even worse, with park visitation and social media usage steadily rising, some people lose awareness of their surroundings and come too close to geysers and hot springs solely for the sake of getting a photo.”
Keep a safe distance
According to the NPS, “hot springs have injured or killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature.” Visitors are warned to stick to the network of established trails and boardwalks, which offer a good view of geothermal features while keeping people out of harm’s way.
Hikers are also warned not to touch thermal features or runoff, and never to try bathing in the heated water. In 2016, a man was killed after accidentally falling into one of the hottest water features in the park while looking for a place to soak.
Twenty-three-year-old Colin Scott and his sister Sable wandered off the boardwalk to find a warm pool when he slipped and fell into the Norris Geyser Basin. He died soon after the accident, but attempts to recover his body were delayed by bad weather and by the following day, nothing remained except his wallet and a pair of flip-flops.
In 2022, the Abyss Pool was closed after a park employee spotted a human foot inside a shoe floating in the water. After an investigation and DNA analysis, it was identified as belonging to a 70-year-old Los Angeles man named Il Hun Ro.