A tourist wandered off-trail into one of Yellowstone National Park’s scalding hot springs and burned himself, officials said.
Now he’s charged with off-trail travel in a park thermal area and being so drunk or high that he was a danger to himself or others, the U.S. Department of Justice District of Wyoming said in an Aug. 24 news release.
The 49-year-old tourist from Michigan was arraigned in federal court Wednesday, Aug. 23, officials said. He pleaded not guilty and was banned from both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks until a court ruling on the charges.
A trial date has not yet been set, and officials are still investigating the incident.
Officials did not provide details about what happened when the tourist ventured off the trail, how he got burned or which thermal area he accessed. But they explained the ground in the park’s hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin — with scalding water right underneath the surface.
That’s why park visitors need to stay on boardwalks and on designated trails and “exercise extreme caution around Yellowstone’s thermal features.”
More than 20 people have died from being burned after they intentionally entered or fell into the park’s hot springs, officials said. More people have been injured or killed in hot springs than any other natural feature.
In June, a tourist dipped the tip of her shoe and her fingers into a boiling spring before flinching backward and yelling “it’s very hot,” McClatchy News previously reported.
In 2022, part of a human foot inside a shoe was spotted floating in one of the park’s deepest hot springs, McClatchy News reported.
In October 2021, a 20-year-old woman was severely burned after she ran into a hot spring to rescue her dog, McClatchy News previously reported. The dog died from its injuries.
The month before, a 19-year-old had third-degree burns over 5% of her body after visiting the Old Faithful geyser.
In 2016, a man may have dissolved after trying to soak in a thermal area, a practice known as “hot potting.” Workers couldn’t find any remains, and park rangers believe he dissolved in the deadly hot water.