Women Gets Jail Sentence After Walking on Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone Park

A volcanic hot spot is the one place not to stray off the beaten path.

Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

A woman has been sentenced to seven days in jail after walking on thermal ground at Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. The 26-year-old made her way up to the thermal pool, then reportedly got off the boardwalk and walked on the thermal ground.

Some may be wondering why this is a big deal. According to Yellowstone National Park Public Affairs Officer Morgan Warthin, "The ground is fragile and thin and scalding water just below the surface can cause severe or fatal burns. More than 20 people have died from burns suffered after they entered or fell into Yellowstone's hot springs."

Yellowstone National Park isn't the soak away your blues and take pictures on Instagram type of spot. It is, however, home to scalding hot geysers, scorching mud, and unstable ground. If you step off the clearly marked path, you risk getting severely burned. In 2016, a Portland, Oregon man hoping to bathe in a hot pool died in the park's boiling, acidic Norris Geyser Basin.

Along with her week-long sentence, Madeline Casey of New Hartford, Connecticut was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, $40 in fees, and a $1,000 community service payment to the Yellowstone Forever Geological Resource Fund. Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray says that the park does a very good job warning visitors to stay on the boardwalk, but there will always be people who don't listen. "Although a criminal prosecution and jail time may seem harsh, it's better than spending time in a hospital's burn unit."

So if a trip to Yellowstone is in your future, you heard it here, don't stray off the beaten path, not even to roast your chicken dinner in the hot springs.

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Janae Price is a News Staff Writer at Thrillist. She's a native New Yorker and loves all things cheese, K-pop, and culture. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @janae_larie.