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Watch hikers risk lives strolling beside giant hot spring at Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park
(Image credit: Getty)

Two hikers have been captured on camera walking right next to Grand Prismatic, North America's largest hot spring, endangering both themselves and the delicate ecosystem.

The spring, located in Yellowstone National Park takes its name from its stunning colors, created by different microbes that thrive in the hot and wet conditions. It's perfectly safe to visit provided you keep to the boardwalks, which have been installed at a safe distance. However, straying off the trails for a closer look is extremely dangerous, and at least 20 people have been killed at the park's geothermal features over the years.

As Yellowstone National Park Trips (opens in new tab) explains, ground around hot springs and geysers can be much more fragile than it appears, and the groundwater underneath can reach temperatures of 250C.

The video (which you can watch below) was originally posted on TikTok, and then shared on Instagram by touronsofyellowstone (opens in new tab), an account that specailizes in drawing attention to dangerous and foolish behavior at US National Parks.

Some hot springs can also be extremely acidic. As reported by HuffPost (opens in new tab), a man from Oregon died at Yellowstone in 2016 after slipping and falling into the Norris Geyser after straying off the boardwalk with his sister in search of a warm place to swim. The National Park Service (opens in new tab) explains that very few thermal features at Norris are below boiling point, and the scalding hot, acidic water dissolved the man's body overnight, leaving only a pair of melted flip-flops.

The NPS urges caution in all hydrothermal areas, stating that visitors should stay on boardwalks and designated trails; never run, push or shove; supervise children at all times; and take care not to scratch hydrothermal mats.

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 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).