The Truth About All Of Yellowstone's Geyser-Related Deaths

You know, the ground is a funny thing. Most of us take it for granted our entire lives, rarely stopping to think about how great it is that, generally speaking, the earth beneath our feet doesn't spend a lot of time turning into a hell-mouth made of scalding death. Unless, that is, we're taking in the awe-inspiring beauty of the world's first National Park.

If you've ever visited Yellowstone, you'll be keenly aware of its two main features. The first is a panoply of signs warning against dangerous behaviors, such as approaching the herds of bison. The second is that, next to every one of those signs, there is a family of tourists doing exactly what the sign tells them not to do. The park points this out in a section of their website dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers inherent in ignoring Yellowstone's safety measures. This portion of the site is labeled "People will do what they want to do, regardless of the danger," and is kind of hard not to read in a Ron Swanson voice.

Yellowstone: a tragic human broth

As far back as anyone can remember, Yellowstone National Park has been the loaded, unlocked handgun of American landmarks: a symbol of unabashed patriotism that you really shouldn't let your kids or drunk friends be around unattended. It is an untapped swath of natural phenomena, featuring over 3,000 square miles of untouched wilderness, hundreds of separate animal species, and, according to the Yellowstone website, roughly ten thousand "geysers, mudpots, steamvents, and hot springs." Since it was first established in 1872, there have been at least twenty fatalities attributed to Yellowstone's hydrogeological features, though the park itself acknowledges that the count could be much higher. Per their website, the first reported death came in 1890 when a seven year old boy from Montana fell into a hot spring. They go on to describe the deaths of seven other children who got away from their parents, as well as the horrific passings of teenagers, fishermen, and thrill-seeking young park employees, with the most recent loss of life occurring in June of 2016 when a 23 year old Portland man fell into the hot springs near Porkchop Geyser after leaving the trail area.

Scenic and impressive though they might be, the geysers of Yellowstone can reach temperatures well above boiling point, and the ground can give way without warning. If you plan on visiting, use caution and heed park officials' advice.

Alternately, do what you want to do, regardless of the danger. We hear med-evac helicopters are a great way to get around.