Top Ten Ways to Die In Yellowstone
by: Peggy L Henderson
For my post today, I thought I’d stray away from the usual western-themed topic. Instead, here are some gruesome facts about ways people have been knows to die in Yellowstone, whether it was early tourists in the 1800’s, or people visiting the park today
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.
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 and Gases
Water hemlock looks a lot like an edible wild parsnip or carrot, but it's a virulent poison. For both of the confirmed deaths, it was, unfortunately, their final meal. Deadly hydrogen sulphide, which occurs naturally in Yellowstone, killed a worker helping to dig a pit in 1939.
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.
Setting a boulder tumbling into a canyon might seem like innocent fun until you realize there are hikers down below. One person died this way, while several others were killed by rocks that were unintentionally dislodged or just happened to fall.
Although rare, deaths from being hit by a tree have happened several times in Yellowstone, either during logging operations or windstorms.
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!