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Man Left Path to Take Photos at Yellowstone, Now He’ll Serve Time

Let this be a warning to all who wonder if the rules don’t apply to them. Yesterday, Yellowstone National Park announced that a Washington man went off path and now he’s paying the price (literally). A judge gave him seven days in jail, fines, and more after trespassing at Steamboat Geyser.

21-year-old Viktor Pyshniuk of Lynwood, Washington crossed over the fence and walked up the hillside within 15-20 feet of Steamboat Geyser’s steam vent, according to a National Park Service (NPS) press release. A park employee took a photo of Pyshniuk beyond the fence and reported him to Yellowstone law enforcement.

“When contacted, Pyshniuk told the officer he left the boardwalk to take photos,” NPS says. “While speaking with Pyshniuk, the officer showed him the signs posted throughout the area stating it is illegal to leave the boardwalk and explained that walking in a thermal area is very dangerous due to possible weak ground layer, the geothermal features of mud pots, heated steam and water, and all other dangers associated with walking in a heated, unpredictable geothermal area.”

The Price for Trespassing at Yellowstone

Last week, a judge sentenced Pyshniuk to seven days in jail for thermal trespass, alongside two years of unsupervised release, a two-year ban from Yellowstone National Park, a $1,500 fine, a $30 mandatory court processing fee, and a $20 special assessment fee.

NPS reports that the judge hopes the sentence will not only deter the defendant but also the public from leaving the boardwalk. “If every visitor to [Yellowstone] disobeyed the rules, the park would be destroyed, and no-one would be able to enjoy it,” NPS says, quoting the judge.

Steamboat Geyser is the world’s tallest active geyser, but NPS says it is also the most dangerous. “It has erratic and unpredictable eruptions that can rise anywhere from six to 300 feet high,” NPS says. “In the last four years, the intervals between eruptions ranged anywhere from three to 89 days.”

To deter guests from getting too close, there is a three-foot fence around the boardwalk.

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