Summer is the perfect time to get outside and explore the great outdoors as the United States is home to some of the most spectacular and scenic places on Earth.
The National Park System encompasses 423 individually designated sites that span more than 84 million acres in all 50 states and multiple U.S. territories and hosts more than approximately 318 million visitors each year.
And naturally, one the biggest problems the National Park Rangers have to deal with… idiot tourists.
Whether they’re taunting a bison, getting WAY to close to a grizzly bear, climbing fences and barriers into areas they shouldn’t be in, or just trashing the space with their litter… nothing disturbs the ecosystem quicker than people.
That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t enjoy the parks, it just means they should learn to behave and have some respect for the land.
So without further ado, here’s a list that none of these people probably want to be on…
1. Bison Calf Euthanized After Being Put In Car
In 2016, footage of a bison calf strapped into the trunk of a car in Yellowstone National Park went viral.
The two tourists who picked up the baby buffalo were reportedly worried the animal was cold and needed to be rescued from the elements. And here’s the kicker it reached a high of 50 degrees that day, not exactly freezing by any stretch of imagination.
After loading the bison into their trunk, the two drove it to a nearby ranger station.
And here’s where it gets sad… park officials had to euthanize the bison after they were unable to reunite it with the herd.
“Park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd. These efforts failed.
The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway.”
2. Florida Woman Burns Down World’s Oldest Cypress Tree
Don’t do meth people…
In January of 2012, Sara Barnes reportedly climbed inside the hollowed out trunk of a 3,500 year old cypress tree after the park had closed for the night. Once inside of the ancient tree, Barnes and friend began to smoke a little meth because… Florida.
The meth pipe wasn’t enough to keep the two women warm though, so they started a fire inside the tree.
The 5th oldest tree in the world, and the world’s oldest cypress tree turned into the biggest bonfire. Firefighters arrived on the scene but could only watch as the historic tree was reduced to a 20 foot stump thanks to the meth fueled shenanigans of two idiots.
With a few priors, Barnes was sentenced to 30-months in prison for the incident.
3. Yellowstone Bans Men For Cooking Chicken In Thermal Geyser
So this might actually also qualify as the smartest thing anyone has ever tried to do in a National Park. But I guess since the Park Service punished them, we’ll count it as one of the dumbest.
In August of 2020, three men visited Yellowstone National Park and attempted to fry some chicken in a thermal geyser. A park ranger was alerted to a group with cooking pots in a tourist area, and it was discovered that the group had two whole chickens marinating in a burlap sack they had thrown into a boiling hot spring.
Yellowstone is home to hundreds of thermal features and geysers, with average water temperatures ranging from 180 – 196 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot enough to kill people, and to fry chicken…
Eric and Dallas Roberts were reportedly ordered to serve two days in jail and pay $540 in fines and fees for their part in the incident. The third man, Eric Romriell, 49, paid $1,250 in fines and fees.
The men were also apparently banned from Yellowstone for two years.
4. Drunk Man Taunts Buffalo In The Middle Of Traffic, Gets Charged
Get drunk and taunt a 2,000 pound tank of an animal… smart.
Raymond Reinke reportedly justified his drunken behavior by stating that he and a buddy were on a road trip to celebrate “one last hurrah” before he entered an alcohol treatment program.
After his 15 minutes of fame from the viral video was up, he was sentenced to 60 days in jail for harassing wildlife, 60 days for interfering with law enforcement and 10 days for disorderly conduct. He was given credit for 21 days served.
He was also banned from Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier national parks for a five-year probationary period during which he is not allowed to drink alcohol.
Reinke reportedly told the judge”
“I’m sorry to the buffalo. He didn’t deserve what I did to him.”
The judge replied:
“You’re lucky the bison didn’t take care of it, and you’re standing in front of me.”
5. Bison Tosses 9-Year-Old Girl Into The Air
Back in 2019, the girl was part of a tourist group of about 50 people near Observation Point Trail, near the iconic Old Faithful Geyser. According to reports from park staff, the group got within 5-10 feet of the bison and were close for approximately 20 minutes before the charge.
When her family was charged, everybody scattered, leaving the 9-year-old high and dry (way to go dad), and the bison locked eyes on the young girl. Running her down in a matter of seconds, the bison struck her with its big and powerful head, and lifted her high into the air.
Thankfully, the little girl was treated and released from a park medical clinic and seemingly had no real injuries save for some bumps and bruises, but the situation could’ve much, much worse.
Hopefully dad learned a valuable lesson about wildlife… and keeping an eye on his kids.
6. Idiot Tourist Gets Charges By Grizzly, Goes To Jail
An idiot tourist casually approached arguably the deadliest animal in North America and it almost went horribly wrong.
The Yellowstone visitor casually strolled right up to a mother grizzly bear and her cubs hoping to snap a picture. She was promptly bluff charged by the angry mama bear, who came within just steps of absolutely destroying this lady’s vacation.
Lucky for her, the bear only gave her a bluff charge, which was enough to make her turn her back to the bear (another genius move) and walk away, but it could’ve been MUCH, MUCH worse…
Samantha Dehring was charged after pleading guilty to willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards.
The other count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife, was dismissed.
She received a four day jail sentence, a number of fines, probation, and a one-year ban from Yellowstone National Park.
7. Woman Literally Gets Her Pants Ripped Off By Bison
Okay, this took place at a South Dakota State Park, not a National Park, but we are still going to count it on the list.
The woman (and her group of motorcyclists) were riding through Custer State Park in South Dakota, when they stopped to get a picture of a the herd.
The women (like an idiot) approached a bison calf and naturally mama bison did what protective parents do when strangers approach their children… she attacked.
The woman narrowly missed a goring as the horn caught the belt loop on her pants and mama bison swung her around like a rag doll until her pants came off, and she wound up laying on the side of the road, pantsless and unconscious.
The good news though? They recovered her pants from the bison…
8. Graffiti Artist Vandalizes Park Property
Casey Nocket was reportedly banned from all National Parks for 2 years beginning in 2014 after she defaced natural landscapes in seven different national parks by graffitiing large swaths of rock formations with her “art.”
She was particularly easy to track down and arrest, considering each of the graffiti pieces she crafted included her Instagram handle. She also posted pictures of the evidence to her Instagram account.
Crater Lake was just one of the parks that was defaced by the New York City artist known as “Creepy Tings.”
She also drew vandalized Death Valley National Park, as well as Yosemite National Park, and four other parks during a 2-week-long hiking vacation and graffiti rampage.
She intentionally used acrylic paint because she knew it would be difficult to remove.
9. Boy Scout Leaders Topple 200-Million-Year-Old Rock Formation
This one also occurs in a state park, but it was too dumb not to include on this list.
As “leaders” of local Boy Scout troop, you think they would have enough sense to do something this dumb, but I digress.
While visiting Goblin Valley State Park in Utah in October of 2013, two men pushed a boulder down a hill thus destroying a 200-million year old formation.
David Hall and Glen Taylor both dodged jail time, but they were reportedly sentenced to a year of probation and fined heavily. They were also ousted from their leadership position with the Boy Scouts.
They claimed to have done it in to prevent a safety hazard, saying the rock formation was dangerous to hikers despite the fact that it had stood for more than 200 million years without hurting anyone.
The celebratory nature of the video that incriminated them calls that motive into question.
10. Vanessa Hudgens Illegally Defaces Red Rock National Park
Finally, we round out the list with our celebrity guest miss Vanessa Hudgens.
Hudgens is an actress, singer, and film producer most well known for her role in the High School Musical series.
On Valentines Day 2016, she also went down in history in the long line of people to criminally deface federal property when she carved her and her boyfriends name into a rock with a heart, and posted it to Instagram
The incident took place at Coconino National Forest (close enough to a park for this list) and Hudgens was reportedly fined $1,000 for the incident.
“She was caught in the act because she publicized it and she’s famous. I’m sure there are others who are not famous and publicized it and we’ve never known.”