Yellowstone National Park Tourists Wash Dogs Illegally in Thermal Area

by Shelby Scott

Yellowstone National Park is one of the United States’ most unique and popular tourist attractions. Known for its active geysers, thermal vents, and bison herds among other things, it’s no wonder tourists flock to the park year-round. However, with increased tourism comes increased infractions and illegal behaviors. Most recently, one couple was caught on video bathing their dogs in the thermal runoff from one of the park’s geysers. Which, in case you didn’t already guess, is entirely illegal.

Photos and videos of the unbelievable scene are located here.

The clip captures a man in a red t-shirt barefooted and sitting atop the thermal ground. He and a smaller dog sit in steaming waters draining from Yellowstone’s Firehole Lake. The next few frames capture a woman, also barefoot, carrying a rather nervous-looking fuzzy dog toward the runoff. She proceeds to bathe the animal in the steaming water as the video continues to record.

The woman who captured the video, Karissa Krull, shared the scene in a post on Facebook. “I am sad to say this happened today at Firehole Lake Drive,” she began. “They were washing their dogs in the thermal water!”

Thankfully for the nervous canines, the Yellowstone runoff was not boiling but it was steaming, which is viewable in the video clip.

According to USA Today, Firehole Lake Drive loops around several hot springs and geysers in addition to its namesake lake. While these two particular tourists clearly ignored the signs, the park provides tourists a boardwalk that encircles the lake while also leading to the various geysers and springs. Yellowstone specifically utilizes these boardwalks so as to prevent tourists from injury or even death at the hands of the boiling waters just beneath the park’s crust.

Yellowstone’s Illegal Dog Washers Committed a List of Infractions

According to the USA Today article in addition to Yellowstone National Park guidelines, it is illegal for tourists to be anywhere but on the mandated boardwalks in thermal areas.

For those unfamiliar with the park’s potential hazards, thermal areas appear as solid ground. However, in reality, what remains is a much thinner crust and any added weight may result in that ground giving way, sending who or whatever stands atop the crust into scalding water. Therefore, the boardwalks these tourists strayed from serve to do exactly that.

As far as the couple’s many infractions go, Yellowstone National Park’s spokeswoman listed the following:

  • Tourists should not touch thermal water or runoff.
  • Swimming or soaking in hotsprings is absolutely prohibited.
  • Pets may not enter thermal areas.
  • They must remain within 100 feet of roads, parking areas, or campgrounds.
  • Tourists must contain their pets.
  • Pets are not allowed on boardwalks, hiking trails, or “in the backcountry”

While Yellowstone’s rules regarding pets especially might seem strict, park officials only intend to protect both tourists’ beloved furry friends in addition to the park’s natural setting.

At the moment, authorities have not stated whether Yellowstone plans to identify and fine the couple.