Viral Video of Tourists on Grand Prismatic Spring Sparks Conversation About Spring Safety


Oct. 24 2023, Published 3:14 p.m. ET

Grand Prismatic Springs in Yellowstone.
Source: Getty Images

National Park Service officials can tell tourists the rules of visiting Yellowstone until they are blue in the face, but there are still people who aren’t going to listen. Tourists who refuse to abide by the rules endanger wildlife and themselves. Some people have received high fines, jail time, and even death, all for the sake of an Instagram photo or video.

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The Instagram page Tourons of Yellowstone exposes the misguided tourists who don’t want to follow the rules. One such video, posted in August 2023, shows two tourists standing out on the Grand Prismatic Hot Springs, the largest hot spring in Yellowstone.

Here's why standing on the Grand Prismatic is pretty much the worst thing you can do, explained.

Signs say stay on the boardwalk at Grand Prismatic Springs.
Source: Getty Images
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A viral video shows tourists walking on Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone.

In the video, one of the two men standing out on Grand Prismatic Spring turns to the camera and yells, “It’s ok, Idaho is beautiful!” It’s not ok. One of the main things you aren’t supposed to do when you visit Yellowstone is leave the boardwalks that are there for you to observe the springs safely, according to Yellowstone National Park Trips.

The water temperature in the Grand Prismatic hot springs is around 145.4 to 188.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause severe burns when exposed to your skin, per the National Science Foundation. NBC News reported that a three-year-old child sustained second-degree burns and had to be airlifted to the hospital in 2020 after falling off the boardwalk into a thermal feature.

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While the Grand Prismatic Spring may appear to have ground you can walk on, the area is a thin layer of earthen crust that hides scalding water underneath. And heat isn’t the only concern with falling into a hot spring at Yellowstone. The high acid levels of the water can dissolve your entire body within a few hours, Forbes explained.

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A 23-year-old man died after accidentally falling into a hot spring in Yellowstone in 2016. The man was looking for a place to "hot pot" in the park, left the boardwalk, and fell into the hot spring while trying to test the temperature of the water, as per CNN. When rescuers went to retrieve his body the next day, there were no remains to be found. His body had completely dissolved in the spring's acidic waters.

You could face fines and jail time for walking on Grand Prismatic hot springs.

If death isn’t a strong enough deterrent to stop you from leaving the boardwalks at Yellowstone, maybe jail time is. In 2019, a California man was fined $1,040 and ordered to serve four days in jail for walking across Grand Prismatic hot springs, reported KBZK in Bozeman, Mont.

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Not to mention, the beauty of Grand Prismatic Springs' colored rings is due to the bacteria living there, and when "tourons" walk on the springs, they threaten the area's ecological balance, per Yellowstone National Park Trips.

The reasons you should stay on the boardwalks in Yellowstone should be obvious. They are there for your protection and to protect the springs! So the next time you have the urge to walk off the beaten path, resist: your body, your wallet and the environment will thank you.

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