More Yellowstone idiots: The Firehole Rangers ride again

After scribing the headline I realized the reference to “more idiots” might be interpreted as a references to the Firehole Rangers themselves. To be very clear, that was not my intent. The Rangers may be fools, but idiots we are not. Especially when it comes to wildlife and other hazards in Yellowstone.

Since my last entry, Idiots Invade Yellowstone, the Rangers returned from their annual pilgrimage to the Park. And in that time there were at least two more reports of incidents involving stupidity on the part of Yellowstone tourists interacting with wildlife:

  1. A woman (whose country of origin was not noted) was knocked down by a cow elk after she got way too close. Read more/see the video HERE
  2. An Australian man (not a Canadian) was tossed into the air by a bison after he got within just a few feet of the beast. Read all aboot it HERE

Both survived, only because Darwin is being too lenient as of late.

In another unfortunate and highly avoidable incident, a man fell into an earthen caldron of boiling water after leaving the boardwalk at Porkchop Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin (named accordingly, I believe, because the water is hot enough to boil a pork chop). Sadly, he died. He didn’t need to. Story and video HERE.

The stretch of the Firehole River where the Rangers fish in the Park is riddled with thermal features and is home to numerous bison. It’s an area far from any boardwalk, with no signage warning of the hazards. Fortunately where we fish is also far from the hoards of tourists. It would be way too easy to get into trouble out there without a little common sense, which it seems far too few people bring with them when they visit Yellowstone.


Where there’s steam, there’s heat. Where there’s heat, it’s hot. Where it’s hot, it’s dangerous.


Firehole River Bison

Those are bison. They don’t want you close to them. Give bison a wide berth.



Read, and heed, the warnings. It’s not that hard.

Every park visitor entering Yellowstone receives a packet of information at the gate. Clearly not everyone is reading it because the front page is filled with cautionary advice on how not to become a statistic. And translations are also available in multiple languages, so that’s not an excuse (hear that, Canadians?). Be aware, people. Stay alert and read the warnings. Oh, and also be aware of your personal space and those around you. Standing cluelessly in the middle of a very busy isle at the grocery store, while other shoppers are trying to acquire a can of air freshener for their musty motel room, is just plain rude. 把移一边

OK, I’m done now.  Let’s talk about fishing next…stay tuned for a report from this year’s trip.



  1. Howard Levett

    Actually, it doesn’t bother me in the least that people are dying to visit Yellowstone other than the fact that I’d hate to see an animal pay the ultimate price for some tourist stupidity. As far as the thermals go, throw a glass of ice water in the offending caldron and let’s call it punishment for acting naturally.

    • Kirk Werner

      I concur, Howard. But in my article I tried to be fairly neutral in my stance. That’s what good journalism is all about: neutrality without editorial comment. Oh wait, this isn’t good journalism. Never mind.

  2. Patrick Konoske

    Sadly, the idea that people might “read the warnings” is a nonstarter. Words of admonishment no longer mean anything in a world ruled by infographics. I fear the same goes for situational awareness (“Be aware, people. Stay alert and read the warnings.”).

    If one entertains the idea that Ms. Nature views humans as an invasive species, these incidents fall under the definition of self-defense.

    • Kirk Werner

      Self defense on the part of Ma Nature. I can dig that, man. I recently saw a meme-type thing where a bison was fitted with a warning sign. Seems feasible to create walking, breathing, goring infographics. Maybe that will work? Probably not.

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