You can be excused if, when you hear stories of tourists behaving stupidly, that all you can come up with to say is, "What were they thinking?"

Well, the simple answer is they weren't. Or in this case, if "thinking" meant more strategic photo opportunities, that doesn't quite supersede the law.


Yellowstone National Park authorities report that a Lynwood, Washington man was sentenced to seven days in jail for thermal trespass at Steamboat Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone. In addition, 21-year-old Viktor Pyshniuk was placed on two years of unsupervised release and received a two-year ban from YNP for a closure violation. The court also ordered Mr. Pyshniuk to pay a $1,500 fine.

Park law enforcement was dispatched to the thermal area at Steamboat Geyser by an on-duty park employee who reported a person walking off the boardwalk. The employee's photo clearly showed Pyshniuk crossing over the fence and was walking up the hillside within 15-20 feet of the steam vent. When confronted, he told the officer that he left the boardwalk to take photos.
Image courtesy of Getty Images, 11photo


The officer showed Mr. Pyshniuk the signs posted throughout the area that clearly state it is illegal to leave the boardwalk and that walking in a thermal area is very dangerous due to possible weak ground layer, the geothermal features of mud pots, heated steam and water, and all other dangers associated with walking in a heated, unpredictable geothermal area.
Yellowstone National Park
Image courtesy of Getty Images, Purestock

The sentencing judge masterfully explained the sentence being two-fold. For one thing, it was designed to deter him specifically, but also sending a message to other tourists thinking about leaving the boardwalk in this area. If the defendant’s actions were seen by other people around him, they might think it's okay to do the same thing.
And of course the obligatory but necessary to-the-point logic that summed it up nicely: "If every visitor to Yellowstone National Park disobeyed the rules, the park would be destroyed, and no-one would be able to enjoy it."

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