Tragedy in Yellowstone.

Searching online for material related to a photo of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone  (below), I learned a tragic accident had occurred there while we were in the park last summer.  An eight-year-old girl, hiking with her family to the observation platform at the brink of the falls, was two-third’s of the way down the trail when she fell 550 feet into the canyon. She had apparently stepped off the trail when she lost her footing.

Lower Falls of the Yellowston River

We last took the trail to the brink of the lower falls in 2010.  The high usage, 1.5 mile paved trail, round trip, is steep, dropping 600 feet over multiple switchbacks to the viewing platform.  The climb back up is strenuous.

Trail to Brink of Lower Falls of Yellwston

Trail to Brink of Lower Falls of Yellwston

Trail to Brink of Lower Falls of Yellwston

Numerous signs along the trail warn visitors to stay on the trail.  Some are intended to limit human caused erosion.

Warning Trail Sign at Grand Canyon of the Tellowstone

Some people choose to ignore the signs.

Shorcutting on Trail to Brink of Lower Falls of Yellwston

Shorcutting on Trail to Brink of Lower Falls of Yellwston

Other signs warn of danger.

Warning Trail Sign at Grand Canyon of the Tellowstone

imageUnfortunately, some people ignore these signs, too, some quite flagrantly.

Hiking a portion of the South Rim Trail last summer, we were passed several times by a large group, all of whom looked to be in their early 20s, except for one or two.  It was an organized group, possible a guided day hike.

If it was a guided hike, their trail discipline was very poor.

We saw several of the group venture off the trail to have their picture taken with the canyon in the background, including one young man repeatedly, including some balancing poses that could have ended badly.

Trail Sign at Grand Canyon of the Tellowstone - Uncle Tom and South RimOn the day the girl fell into the canyon, we took Uncle Tom’s Trail down into the canyon. The trail is asphalt with switchbacks and steps, including a metal staircase with 328 steps terminating at a  view platform about 3/4 of the way down into the canyon.

It’s across the canyon from where the accident occurred and slightly downstream.  The photo below is the observation platform at the brink of the lower falls, through a zoom lens.

Observation platform at Brink of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone

We were on Uncle Tom’s Trail in the middle of the afternoon.  The accident occurred in the morning, with the body recovered around noon.

Brink of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone

accident, hiking, mountains, parks, people, photography, places, safety, Travel Photos, wyoming
7 comments… add one
  • Cheerful Monk Jan 26, 2015

    That’s too bad, but I wouldn’t walk off the trail for erosion reasons alone.

    I’m glad you had a chance to get there.
    Cheerful Monk recently posted…A Different ApproachMy Profile

    • Mike Jan 26, 2015

      In the 8 years since I retired, we’ve been to Yellowstone 3 times, 5 to 7 days for each visit. As many times as we’ve been there over the last 4 decades, it’s always disappointing to see people going where signs tell them not to.
      Mike recently posted…February to be the worst month of the bunch?My Profile

  • Grannymar Jan 26, 2015

    How tragic. Even over here at the Giant’s causeway, folk are always taking a step back or sideways to set up the ‘perfect’ photo and bingo they are gone down to the rocks way below. Nowadays a good chunk is closed to the public and replaced with a virtual tour with commentary in the Visitor centre.
    Grannymar recently posted…What is on my mind?My Profile

    • Mike Jan 26, 2015

      I took a spill myself a couple of months ago trying to get to a spot to take a picture of a waterfall in Arkansas. Fortunately, I was already at the bottom of that canyon. Our oldest daughter, Mel, in a separate instance, fell very near to where I was. I was fine, but she sprained her ankle. I was hurting a bit from the fall, but was fine by the next day. Mel was in pain for weeks after.
      Mike recently posted…Drying Feathers.My Profile

  • Grannymar Jan 27, 2015

    Ouch! That sounds painful. I fell once after a climb, but it was back at ground level. As we walked, I kicked a bramble to the side of the path not knowing it covered some old rusted barbed wire, the wire wrapped round my hiking boot and pulled me to the ground. The body complained for a few days, but there was no major damage.
    Grannymar recently posted…What is on my mind?My Profile

  • Bijoux Feb 14, 2015

    I’ve seen people do insane things every time I’m at a national park. Grand Canyon is the worst! Have you been to Bryce? At Inspiration Point, I saw 4 year olds chasing each other, where there was NO railing. I seriously started hyperventilating.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: