Don't let a bison trap you in the bathroom

Public outhouse in forest
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sometimes you just have to answer nature's call during a hike, and thankfully most US National Parks provide you with plenty of places to do so, but leaving afterwards isn't always so easy (even if you aren't unlucky enough to fall in). 

Last week, wildlife guide Bo Welden shared a video of a moose strolling around an outhouse at Grand Teton National Park, showing just how tall the animals are compared to humans. Their size isn't always apparent from photos, but this moose's shoulder comes up to the bottom of the roof, making him well over 6ft tall.

Welden works for Jackson Hole EcoTours, and says he's often asked whether there are any bathrooms available for visitors, but using them has some caveats.

"Turns out there are many bathrooms in both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks BUT you might have to wait to get out of the car until a HUGE bull moose walks past first," he wrote. "This was such a cool moment because you can see how tall moose are when they stand next to human [made] objects."

Last summer, an unlucky man found himself in exactly that situation when a huge bison decided to start grazing right outside a public bathroom at Yellowstone National Park. In a video recorded by another park visitor, he can be seen peering around the door at the huge animal, waiting for it to leave so he can escape.

Bison injure more people at Yellowstone than any other animal (in fact, two women were seriously injured by the animals at US National Parks this summer), so it was wise to stay indoors until the big animal had moved on. 

The NPS warns visitors that even if they seem calm at first, wild animals are unpredictable and it's important to give them plenty of space.

"The safest (and often best) view of wildlife is from inside a car," the NPS says. "Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals, including bison and elk."

If you do happen to find yourself in close quarters with a moose or bison, and the animal is showing signs of aggression, getting behind or inside a building is one of the best things you can do. In an emergency, an outhouse might just save your life.

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.