Clueless tourists burn hands in scalding thermal pools at Yellowstone

Hiker on boardwalk at Yellowstone National Park
(Image credit: Getty)

Despite warnings, hikers are still burning themselves by touching runoff from thermal springs at Yellowstone National Park.

Two more people were spotted scalding their fingers in a pool last week. Artist and hiker Mika Vigue watched as the visitors crouched on the boardwalk to touch the hot runoff, and shared a video of their reactions on Instagram.

"Sometimes I just don't like people," she said as she watched both tourists make the same mistake. "They make me want to say bad words."

The National Park Service (NPS) warns all visitors to keep their distance from geothermal features, and stick to the network of boardwalks and trails designed to offer great views while maintaining safety.

"Hot springs have injured or killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature," says the NPS in its guidance to visitors. "Keep your children close and don’t let them run."

Rangers specifically warn against touching thermal features or runoff, and remind guests that swimming or soaking in hot springs is prohibited. Several people have suffered serious burns after accidentally falling into the water, which is also extremely acidic in certain parts of the park. In 2016, a man's body completely dissolved within 48 hours after he fell into the Norris Geyser Basin while looking for a place to hotpot with his sister.

The ground around geothermal features is often fragile too, with boiling hot groundwater underneath.

"Boardwalks and trails protect you and delicate thermal formations," advises the NPS. "Water in hot springs can cause severe or fatal burns, and scalding water underlies most of the thin, breakable crust around hot springs."

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.