Young child spotted clambering over rocks on brink of Yellowstone waterfall

Gibbon Falls. Yellowstone National Park. USA
(Image credit: Getty)

Hiking season is in full swing at Yellowstone National Park, and a visitor has shared a video showing the importance of keeping a close eye on children around natural hazards. Photographer Abbey Morales was visiting the park when she spotted an unaccompanied child clambering around on rocks at the brink of a waterfall. She recorded the incident on her phone and shared it via Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone as a warning to others.

"I honestly thought that kid might be swept away and drowned," Morales wrote. "Also he was barefoot!"

A commenter has identified the waterfall as Gibbon Falls. which drops 84ft in a gradual descent. It's a popular stop between Madison Junction and the Norris Geyser Basin. It's easily accessible via a paved half-mile trail, but climbing out right into the water isn't a great idea.

According to the National Park Service (NPS), over 100 people have died in Yellowstone's lakes and rivers over the years. "Cold water makes hypothermia a year-round risk, and spring snow melt makes rivers dangerous to cross," it adds. This is particularly true at high elevations where rivers and lakes become swollen with snowmelt.

Keep kids safe

The NPS also urges parents to keep a close eye on children, particularly around hazards such as geothermal features and cliffs. In 2014, an eight-year-old girl died at the park after accidentally stepping off a trail overlooking the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Zahra Allahyari of Poway, California, lost her footing and fell around 550 feet.

In 2020, a three-year-old suffered severe burns after running off and falling into Yellowstone's Midway Geyser Basin. "The child took off running from the trail, slipped and then fell into a small thermal feature," said park officials after the accident.

“The ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin, and there is scalding water just below the surface. Visitors must always remain on boardwalks and trails and exercise extreme caution around thermal features."

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.