Whoever said there’s no such thing as a stupid question obviously never met a Yellowstone National Park tourist. At least, that’s what it seems like hearing some of the questions they’ve asked. Yellowstone Jobs, the official TikTok account of the park’s hiring services, posted a video of the dumbest questions park employees have received from tourists over the years, and there are some doozies. Without further ado, here are some of the dumbest questions from tourists at Yellowstone National Park. Additionally, if you’re actually serious about your visit to the park, here are the top 10 things to do in Yellowstone. Now, let’s get into it.
1. Are the Bison Animatronic?
This question blew me away right off the bat. Yellowstone National Park actually houses the last-known wild herd of bison in the world. Their DNA hasn’t been tainted with cattle or domesticated bison genes. They’re free-roaming, as are all the wildlife in the park, which means they go where they want when they want. I’d like to see an animatronic do that. Audio-animatronics have definitely come a long way since the Country Bear Jamboree, but we’re not yet on “Westworld” levels. I think the only way we could get animatronic bison to roam as real bison do is in science-fiction.
2. Do These Stairs Go Up?
The next question seems like something common sense should take care of, and not something strictly unique to Yellowstone. Yes, the stairs go up, but once you get to the top you just have to stay there forever, sorry. I get it if they’re asking about Uncle Tom’s Trail–which is 328 steep steps down into an observation area but has been closed indefinitely since 2019–as in, “do these stairs go up a mountain?” Or maybe they’re asking about the Crow’s Nest at the Old Faithful Inn, which is also closed to the public but still interesting to see. But just regular stairs? My follow-up question is, have you never used stairs before?
@yellowstonejobs Tourists Say the Darnedest Things. What questions have you been asked? #yellowstonejobs #nationalparks #xanterralife #yellowstone ♬ My House – Flo Rida
3. How Much Chlorine Does it Take to Keep the Lake Clean?
There are so many lakes in Yellowstone National Park that it’s hard to know which one they’re asking about here. I’m going to assume that someone has asked this question at least once at every lake in the park. I’m beginning to get a bit flabbergasted at these questions, and it only gets worse from here. I can only assume that the people asking these questions come from big cities or other urban areas because there’s no way you can look at a natural lake and think it’s cleaned like a pool unless you’ve never seen a lake. In general, lakes are their own ecosystems and they basically clean themselves. There was one instance in Yellowstone where humans had to interfere to clean up Soda Butte Creek when it flowed with toxic metals from a mining operation for nearly 80 years. But other than drastic situations like that, naturally formed lakes and rivers can thrive on their own.
4. Does Old Faithful Go Off in the Winter?
Bottom line: Old Faithful goes off every 35 to 120 minutes, and lasts for 1 and a half to 5 minutes, according to the Park Service. This means it erupts year-round and is one of the most predictable geysers in the park. Currently, park rangers can predict about six geysers with some regularity. Old Faithful doesn’t take a winter vacation. There are some thermal features that are impossible to predict, and Old Faithful is a bit unusual in its regularity. But, it’s been reliable since 1872, and it’s possible it’ll stay that way.
5. Is the Old Faithful Inn Made of Real Wood?
I’m under the impression that the word “park” in National Park leads some people to associate Yellowstone and others with Disney World. What other explanation is there for why tourists think the wildlife is animatronic, or that the wood in Old Faithful Inn is fake? Another bottom line: Old Faithful Inn was built in the winter of 1903-1904 and designed by Robert C. Reamer, who wanted the architecture of the inn to mirror to unpredictability and chaos of the natural landscape around it. It’s nearly 700 feet long and consists of 7 stories, and there are 325 rooms available for guests. It’s also a National Historic Landmark and is most definitely not fake.
6. Are Mud Pots the Same as Mud Baths and is it Okay to Soak in Them?
I’d like to see someone try and soak in a Yellowstone mud pot. Actually, I take that back, no I wouldn’t. The mud pots are made of water so acidic that it dissolves the rock into clay. These thermal features are always bubbling and gurgling due to gases trapped in the clay, and they’re extremely hot. So, no, I don’t recommend soaking in one. Also, they smell pretty bad. Hydrogen sulfide gas bubbles up from the pots creating that signature rotten egg aroma. You can definitely smell the mud pots before you see them. They’re fascinating and beautiful, though, as iron oxides in the clay create a paint palette of earthy colors.