1. Approach dangerous wildlife.
Approaching the bison at Yellowstone is forbidden. The park service requires that visitors keep a distance of at least 100 yards – the length of a football field – from bears, wolves, nesting birds, and 25 yards from all other wildlife. Despite prominently displayed warnings in brochures, signs, and continuous public service announcement campaigns, some people still insist on getting within smelling distance of the bison. It’s always a lousy idea getting this close and frequently ends in tragedy.
Here’s a group of people who are a couple of feet away from adding an emergency room bill (at best) to their Yellowstone souvenir collection. Approaching a calf is about the worst thing you can do. If a big, weird, two-legged animal lumbered too close to your newborn all the while making peculiar noises, what would you do?
2. Trade your life for a 👍 like.
Do you remember the olden days before the ubiquity of smartphones? Way back in prehistoric times – fifteen years or so ago. It seems like the further away folks come from to visit Yellowstone, the more absurd their selfies must be. The people in this video are far too close to this elk, which could quickly charge and launch them twenty-feet (or more) into the air.
Another frequent cause of fatal vacations to National Parks is trying to arrange the perfect Instagram-worthy selfie on the precipice of a stunning backdrop. Tourists are increasingly losing their footing (and their lives) in pursuit of likes. Before you scurry out onto that ledge, ask yourself if your life is really worth risking just to rack up more empty 👍 likes.
3. Forget where you are.
Here are some more folks who nearly had a bison flip the script and turn them into people-burgers. Remember where you are. Just because you're walking down a paved road doesn't mean that you're safe. If you see a huge wild animal on the side of the road, keep at a safe distance of at least 100 yards.
And NEVER pet the fluffy cows. Wait… Speaking of petting the fluffy cows…
4. Pet the fluffy cows.
Ah, the fluffy cows. Yellowstone’s iconic beasts roam freely and delight tourists from near and far. Noble, serene creatures; they’re the fluffy cows of Yellowstone! They’re also incredibly dangerous, and inflict multiple injuries on tourists who, for some reason, imagine that they're harmless. They're not!
Here’s one woman who is clearly in search of her very own Darwin Award. She’s literally petting the fluffy cow.
5. "Rescue" the wildlife.
The wildlife at Yellowstone is one of the park's biggest draws. That, along with the geological features. For me, it's also the thrill of standing atop a super-volcano that could, at any minute, erupt into the most massive cataclysm in human history, instantaneously vaporizing everything (and everyone) for hundreds of miles.
The wildlife in the park has settled into evolutionary niches in the environment and does not, dear visitor, require your assistance. Here’s a story about some tourists who rescued a buffalo calf from “freezing to death” by putting it in the back of their minivan and driving it to a ranger station. 🤦♀
Speaking of getting vaporized, let’s move on to another way tourists shuffle off this mortal coil while visiting Yellowstone…
6. Think a thermal pool is "just like" a hot tub.
“Hotpotting” is the practice of sneaking into Yellowstone’s thermal pools for a soak. The problem is that many of these springs are at temperatures over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and can be extremely acidic. Some, in fact, are so acidic that they can dissolve a human body in a matter of hours.
That’s just what happened to an unfortunate 23-year-old Oregon man who left a boardwalk with his sister with the intention of “hotpotting.” He slipped and tumbled into a hot spring and never came back out.
When park officials arrived, portions of the unfortunate man's head, upper torso, and hands were visible in the hot spring, but his body had largely dissolved.
Hot springs have injured or killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature.
7. Be rude to the locals.
While the inhabitants living in the areas around Yellowstone (including Montana) are friendly, welcoming folk, they do have their limits. Always be polite and respectful to the locals, and they will do the same in return. Tourism plays an essential role in the local economy, and we love our tourists. Just like the local wildlife, however, there are limits to how much bad behavior we can stomach.
I'm not sure if this clip from the Yellowstone TV series is based on a real event or not, but it’s not difficult for anyone who lives near Yellowstone to imagine something like this happening. I find the tone and gauge of john Dutton's reaction to be just about perfectly on-point in this scene.