Thursday, May 17, 2012

Top Ten Ways to Die in Yellowstone

Top Ten Ways to Die In Yellowstone

Boiling in a Hot Spring
People have fallen in, jumped in to rescue dogs or personal items, or thought it was safe to bathe in . Some of the springs reach temperatures in excess of 200 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Death by Bison
Gorings and stompings by bison occur often because people don’t heed the warnings to stay at least 25 yards away. These animals may look slow and docile, but a two ton bison can charge at 35 miles per hour. That’s faster than the average human can run.

Lightning Strikes
Most lightning strikes occur while out boating or hiking, and not having adequate cover when a storm hits.

Aside from car accidents and illnesses, drowning claims more lives than any other danger in Yellowstone. Several deaths have been reported as recently as 2007–2010. Swimmers who underestimate their abilities, boaters whose boats capsize, and hikers who fall into a lake or river account for most of the drownings.

Poison Plants 
Water hemlock looks a lot like an edible wild parsnip or carrot, but it's deadly poisenous. For both of the confirmed deaths, it was the last thing they ate. 

One fall involved a driver who backed his car off a cliff, killing both himself and his wife. Several workers have died after falling from scaffoldings or buildings. Others who have fallen to their deaths from cliffs have ignored warning signs and wandered from established trails. 

A number of people froze to death or died in avalanches in Yellowstone during its early years. Since 1921, however, such deaths have been very rare; three people died in two separate avalanches in the 1990s.

Rolling Rocks
Setting a boulder tumbling into a canyon might seem like innocent fun until you realize there are hikers down below. It's also illegal to toss rocks down a canyon. One person died this way, while several others were killed by rocks that were unintentionally dislodged or just happened to fall.

Falling Trees
Although rare, deaths from being hit by a tree have happened several times in Yellowstone, either during logging operations or windstorms.

Grizzly Mauling
The first documented death caused by a bear in Yellowstone happened in 1916; the latest two, in summer 2011, after a gap of 25 years when no bear-related deaths were recorded. Visitors have died while hiking, sleeping in tents, or getting too close to a bear while trying to snap that perfect picture.

This list was complied from one of my favorite books about Yellowstone. For more details about deaths in America's oldest national park, check out Death in Yellowstone - Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park
by park historian Lee Whittlesey.
In the introduction, the author states, “Play safely, and think before you act.”
Now go out and enjoy your national parks!


  1. Great post, Peggy! I remember the my first visit to the park (well the first time I was old enough to remember) My mom was telling my brother and I about the hot springs and how we were to look not touch. Well she thought she needed to add a very graphic story of a man jumping in after his small dog and their flesh boiling from their bones. Needless to say we were convinced to stay away, in fact she might have taken it a little too far as we were terrified of the springs. Luckily, my dad explained an unseen hand wouldn't pull us in, and all was good. :o)

    1. The guy jumping in to save his dog is true, Kirsten.
      Another thing about hot springs - while some may not be hot enough to kill you, others are very acidic, so you die of acid burn. Another fun way to die.

  2. Awesome! Now all I have to do is avoid grizzlies, avalanches, boiling water, plants, trees, lightening and bison! :) Great post Peggy and fun post though the subject is definitely not funny. And here I've been wanting to meet a grizzly up close and personal. All these years in MT and not a one in my path.

    1. Yeah, I guess that pretty much covers it, MK. Personally, I've never wanted to meet a grizz up close and personal.