Scenery, Wildlife, and Stupidity in America’s Most Iconic Parks

Margaret.Wiktor /
Margaret.Wiktor /
America is heating up for vacationers seeking new adventures, and national parks provide hours of irresistible yet affordable entertainment for cash-strapped thrill-seekers nationwide. But be advised that warning signs in these parks are in place for a reason. Most likely, the reason is that someone did something so idiotic that park managers had no choice but to address it and caution others against the same stupidity.
Here are a few of the stupidest things tourists have done to earn a warning sign.
Don’t Cook Over the Geysers
In August 2020, three men attempted to cook chicken in a thermal geyser at Yellowstone National Park. After spotting cooking pots in a tourist area, a park ranger discovered their tasty plan. The men had placed two whole chickens in a burlap sack into a boiling hot spring, marinating them in the 180-196 degrees Fahrenheit water, which is hot enough to be lethal.
Eric and Dallas Roberts received two-day jail sentences and $540 fines each, while master chef Eric Romriell was fined $1,250. Additionally, all three men were banned from the park for two years.
Yogi Bear Was Not Impressed
A clueless tourist decided to approach what might be North America’s scariest animal, and it almost turned her wonderful vacation into her last.
The Yellowstone visitor boldly approached a mother grizzly bear and her cubs to snap a picture. The furious mama bear then mock-charged her, coming dangerously close to ruining this lady’s vacation and her photo op. Luckily, the bear settled for the fake-out charge, frightening the tourist enough to beat a hasty retreat.
Graffiti Artist Leaves Her Mark on the Park
What’s dumber than tagging rocks in a national park? Tag them with your Instagram handle, and then post the pics to your social media account.
Casey Nocket received a two-year ban from all National Parks starting in 2014 for vandalizing natural landscapes in seven different parks. She defaced large sections of rock formations with graffiti, signing each piece with her Instagram handle, which made her easy to identify and apprehend. Her graffiti spree included parks like Crater Lake, Death Valley, and Yosemite, among others, during a two-week hiking trip.
Scout Leader Pushes Over Jurassic-Era Rock Formation
A Boy Scout leader, identified as “Glenn,” pushed over a distinctive 200 million-year-old rock formation known as a “goblin” at Golbin Valley State Park. Unable to move the rock by shoving it, he was instructed to “wiggle it” by a person filming the incident. After shifting his position and pushing again, “Glenn” caused the supporting structure of the rock to give way, and the formation collapsed.
“Some little kid was about to walk down here and could have been killed,” the cameraman remarks. “Glenn saved a life by moving the boulder out of the way. It’s all about safety here at Goblin Valley.”
Woman Loses Her Pants to Enraged Bison
A group of motorcyclists at South Dakota State Park decided to stop and snap a few pics of a herd of bison. One woman came a little too close for comfort to a mother bison and her calf, prompting the animal to charge her. The bison’s horn snagged a belt loop from the woman’s pants, and the enraged animal swung her around for a few moments before the pants were ripped off. The woman was tossed, half naked and unconscious, to the side of the road.
Her pants were discovered and given back to her, although it was far too late for her common sense.
3500-Year-Old-Tree Goes Up In Smoke
The Senator, a 3500-year-old cypress tree in a Florida park, may have withstood centuries of weather, but it couldn’t stand up the perils of a pair of determined meth smokers who sought refuge inside it after hours. The pair became cold as they were smoking meth and decided to light a fire inside the fifth-oldest cypress tree in the world. The results were predictable, with the gentle giant quickly reduced to a smoldering pile of ash.
Family Abandons Nine-Year-Old After Angering a Bison
In 2019, a Yellowstone tourist group approached a bison within 5-10 feet and stayed near it for about 20 minutes. When the bison, tired of the attention, finally charged, everyone scattered, including a young girl’s family, leaving her alone to face his wrath. The bison turned its attention to the nine-year-old, striking and tossing her into the air.
The girl received only minor bumps and bruises, but her father lost his Parent of the Year award.
Parks are fun and relatively inexpensive ways to enjoy nature at its finest. Don’t forget to pack water, sunscreen, and a little common sense.