Gruesome discovery at Yellowstone shows dangers of straying near hot springs

Abyss Pool, Yellowstone National Park
(Image credit: Getty)

Update: Officials from Yellowstone believe there was no foul play involved, and an investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of death. Original story continues below.

Investigations are underway at Yellowstone National Park after an employee spotted part of a human foot floating in one of the park's many geothermal pools. The remains (which included a shoe) were discovered at the Abyss Pool on Tuesday. The area was closed to the public temporarily, but has since reopened.

As AP News reports,  Yellowstone spokesperson Morgan Warthin says the park has no further information to share at the moment.

It's too early to say whether any foul play was involved, but it's also possible that the foot's owner was simply unlucky. Yellowstone's geothermal features are one of its biggest attractions, and are safe to visit provided hikers stick to the trails and boardwalks provided. Unfortunately, the temptation to get a closer look, whether for a photo opportunity or a swim, is sometimes too great, which can have tragic consequences.

Deaths in the springs

Earlier this week, a video clip emerged showing a pair of visitors who had wandered off to snap photos right on the edge of Grand Prismatic – a pool known for the rainbow colors created by microbes that flourish in hot, wet conditions.

These individuals appear to have escaped without harm, despite the risk of falling through into the scalding groundwater, but not everyone is so lucky. At least 20 people have died at the park's hot springs and pools over the year, including at least one whose body was completely dissolved.

As reported by HuffPost, in 2016 Colin Scott from Oregon died at Yellowstone after leaving the boardwalk looking for a warm pool for a leisurely soak. He slipped and fell into the Norris Geyser Basin, which is the hottest geothermal features in the park.

He couldn't be recovered from the scalding hot, acidic water until the following day due to bad weather, by which time all that remained was a pair of melted flip-flops.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.