If being killed by a bear is one of your greatest concerns while planning a visit to Yellowstone, there are a few things I’d like you to consider. While bear attacks do occur, there are other dangers that are far more likely to take your life.
With out a doubt, it is people that are the biggest danger. Automobile accidents claim lives in the park every year. Simple things like exiting cars on the curb-side of the vehicle could save a loved ones life. Slow down. You can’t see all of Yellowstone in a life time, much less a day. Speed limits are set, not only for your safety, but also for the safety of park wildlife. While in the park, please do not exceed speed limits. Remember this is the bison’s neighborhood, not ours.
After humans, water claims more lives than anything. While Yellowstone is famous for hot water features, it is cold water that has proven to be the bigger danger. Yellowstone’s lakes are some of the coldest in the country. Since 1872, when Yellowstone became a park, over 100 people have died by drowning. By comparison only five people died from bear attacks in the same period.
Yellowstone’s hot springs and geysers have claimed 19 people. Talk with your kids before you get to the thermal areas. The water in these areas can be at or above boiling and boardwalks can be slippery. Never run in thermal areas and always stay on the boardwalks and trails.
We want visitors to get out and hike Yellowstone’s trails. Always, even on the hottest of days, hike with rain gear and drinking water. Exposure and dehydration are significant threats. We all enjoy good views, but stand back from cliffs and overhangs. After cars and water, accidental falls cause the most deaths.
Can you believe that we are almost done with the General Safety video and we haven’t warned you about bears yet? That’s because, if you follow the rules for hiking in bear country, bears are not all that big a concern. Nearly everyone who has been injured by a bear in the last decade was breaking one of the primary rules. View our bear safety video and stop in a visitor center and ask about wildlife safety rules before you begin your hike.
The most basic wildlife safety rule is simple, stay alert when hiking trails. All of the animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable. Stay at least 100 yards from bears and 25 yards from other wildlife.
If you follow some simple rules like these, Yellowstone can leave you with a renewed sense of purpose. Let Yellowstone change your life. Just make sure that change is a positive one.