Yellowstone National Park receives over 3 million visitors each year, but unfortunately, not all of them listen to the rules — endangering themselves and the wildlife around them.
Examples of these “tourons” — a combination of the words “tourist” and “moron” — are posted on the Instagram page Tourons of Yellowstone (@touronsofyellowstone). Content on the page ranges from tourists purposefully irritating large and dangerous animals like elk and bison to getting dangerously close to cliff edges and hot springs.
Recently, a photo of a mother and her two daughters ended up there because of the mother’s neglect to keep her kids on the safe areas of the trail.
The photo was taken at the Norris Basin in Yellowstone National Park. The young girls are wearing park ranger suits, and the family is on a raised boardwalk. However, one daughter had ditched the trail and was standing on the off-limits bacteria mats.
“Lady let her daughter in a Junior park ranger outfit and badge climb off the boardwalk onto the bacteria mats to feel the water,” the caption read.
The Norris Basin is home to many thermophilic mats — communities of millions of organisms. The National Parks Service explains: “[Thermophilic mats] sustain communities of larger organisms within Yellowstone’s hydrothermal areas. These communities in turn affect even larger communities of the park’s mammals.”
The boardwalk ensures that guests can enjoy their beauty without contaminating or damaging them, but the young girl’s mom clearly didn’t get the memo.
In addition, going off the trail can be dangerous. Other guests have died from accidentally slipping into hot springs. While this isn’t exactly what the young girl was doing, it’s important to remember that in order to see such beautiful scenery, we need to preserve it — and our privilege to see it — by following the rules of the park.
The guidelines are in place not only to protect you but also to protect the other guests, park rangers, and wildlife.
Commenters on the post were enraged at the woman’s carelessness, especially because her daughters were clearly passionate about the park. “You shouldn’t let your kids learn this lesson the hard way,” one user wrote. Others jumped in as well, saying, “They have the costume but didn’t read the script,” and “Child endangerment.”
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