Woman Fined and Sentenced To Jail Time for Stepping Off Trail at Yellowstone National Park Geyser

by Shelby Scott

Yellowstone National Park no doubt has its fair share of gorgeous views, interesting landmarks, and beautiful wildlife. Annually, many visitors flock to safely view the park’s unique yet highly dangerous geysers. However, each year, there are always several who put themselves at risk despite warnings. Most recently, a 26-year-old woman received a fine and jail time after deliberately walking across Yellowstone National Park’s fragile grounds.

According to The Hill, the woman, Madeline Casey, and two other friends were visiting the thermal pools and geysers in Norris Geyser Basin when she got caught. She and one friend stepped off of the path to walk across the thermal ground. The pair blatantly ignored the multiple signs specifically forbidding visitors from doing so.

Gathered crowds took pictures of the two individuals as soon as they began their trek off of the designated path. Following, Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman declared Casey would spend a week in jail in addition to having to pay the $1,000 fine. Additionally, she must pay $40 in fees and a $1,000 community service payment to the Yellowstone Forever Geological Resource Fund. Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray designated the additional payments following the initial punishment.

Murray further shared with media, “the National Park Service does a darn good job of warning [visitors] to stay on the boardwalk and [trail] in thermal areas…Yet there will always be those like Ms. Casey who don’t get it.” He acknowledged that “Although a criminal prosecution and jail time may seem harsh, it’s better than spending time in a hospital’s burn unit.”

Yellowstone National Park’s Public Affairs Officer Morgan Warthin explained that the grounds surrounding the geysers are fragile and thin. Just below the crust lie pools of scalding water that can cause severe, even fatal, burns. “More than 20 people have died from burns suffered after they entered or fell into Yellowstone’s hot springs,” Officer Warthin concluded.

Where Exactly Will the Yellowstone National Park Jailbird Spend Her Confinement?

As mandated by Casey’s punishment, the woman saw a sentence of a week in jail as of August 18th. Further, disobeying park rules is definitely a major infraction, especially when it comes to potentially burning your face off. Although, it is interesting to speculate in which jail or prison the woman will be kept.

If you sat here reading this article to this point and had began to wonder that very thing, we think we have a potential answer for you.

Earlier this month, the National Park Service shared an Instagram post featuring Officer Sarah Bouska. The post reads, “Did you know Yellowstone is one of only two national parks with its own jail?

Until then, we did not know. However, it makes sense that, rather than dealing with outside agencies, park representatives potentially kept Casey in their own jail. Officer Bouska shared a humourous comment following the post. She stated, “Lodging opportunities in the Yellowstone Jail cost a Class B misdemeanor.” This sort of misdemeanor refers to incidents less serious than felonies, which makes sense in the case of the woman’s trespassing.