Yellowstone Rangers catch tourist peering into Old Faithful, where water temperature at the vent is 204°F

Visitors watching eruption of Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rangers at Yellowstone National Park acted quickly to intervene after a man was spotted leaving the safety of the boardwalks in the Upper Geyser Basin to peer right into Old Faithful, the park's most famous geyser.

Going off-trail in Yellowstone's geothermal areas is strictly prohibited due to the danger of visitors damaging the ecosystem, falling into pools and springs, or falling through the thin crust covering the scalding hot groundwater. Those who ignore the warning signs can face hefty fines, as actor Pierce Brosnan discovered earlier this month when he was ordered to pay $1,500 for leaving the trail at Mammoth Terraces.

While visiting the park, Nicolas Chevalier spotted one of his fellow hikers showing an unhealthy interest in Old Faithful, and raised the alarm. Chevalier's video of the incident, which was shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone this week, serves as a timely reminder to obey the warnings as the 2024 hiking season approaches.

Chevalier says the crowd shouted for the man to move away from the geyser, and was swiftly escorted to safety by Park Rangers.

Safety in geothermal areas

"Boardwalks and trails protect you and delicate thermal formations," warns the National Park Service (NPS) in its safety guidance for visitors. "Water in hot springs can cause severe or fatal burns, and scalding water underlies most of the thin, breakable crust around hot springs."

Hikers are warned to keep children close and not allow them to run, never touch thermal features or runoff, and never be tempted to swim or soak in thermal pools.

In one particularly tragic case in 2016, a young man died after straying off the boardwalk with his sister to go 'hotpotting' at Yellowstone. Colin Scott and his sister Sable were looking for a place to swim when he fell into one of the park's hottest and most acidic water features, the Norris Geyser Basin.

Sable was unable to rescue her brother, and by the time she was able to summon help, he had passed away. Poor weather conditions meant that recovery efforts were delayed until the following morning, but which time all that remained was Colin's wallet and a pair of flip-flips.

"The consensus among the rescue/recovery team … was that the extreme heat of the hot spring, coupled with its acidic nature, dissolved the remains," wrote officials in a report.

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.