Happy birthday Yellowstone! Here are 10 of the park’s most memorable stories.

This year is the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park, and millions of memories have been made there over the decades.

Stretching 3,500 miles and covering parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone’s popularity has grown in recent years. In 2021, 4.8 million people visited the park, making it the busiest year on record.

To commemorate the anniversary, we take a look back at 10 memorable stories from Yellowstone that EastIdahoNews.com has covered in recent years.

Flooding shuts down Yellowstone

yellow stone flood
Kyle Stone, NPS

After days of unusually heavy rain, Yellowstone flooded in June 2022, forcing visitors to evacuate the park. The extreme flooding event caused severe damage to roadways, water and wastewater systems, power lines, and other critical park infrastructure.

The park closed for about a week and a half after the flooding. Businesses in nearby West Yellowstone and Island Park felt the ripple effect of the closure as tourist numbers plummeted.

Most park entrances eventually reopened, but it could be years before all the repairs are complete.

Wolverine seen in the middle of the road

Courtesy Carl Kemp

A wolverine was captured on video by a Yellowstone tourist in March 2022, an impressive feat considering that a research survey conducted in the park between 2006 and 2009 only documented seven of them.

Carl Kemp was on tour when he saw the wolverine in the middle of the road. The furry animal galloped back and forth in the snow as Kemp and his daughter Maya watched.

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Kemp has worked various jobs in Yellowstone for more than two decades, and this was the first time he had seen a wolverine up close inside the park.

Man banned in the park after walking to Old Faithful and lying down by the geyser

Man in Old Faithful

A man captured on video walking over the Old Faithful cone in September 2018 was kicked out of Yellowstone after he appeared to urinate into the geyser and lie down next to it.

Gabriel Villalva pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and foot traffic in a hot spring area in Yellowstone Park.

In the video, an official can be heard yelling, “This is the Park Service. Get on the boardwalk!”

A second video then surfaced showing Villalva doing the same thing at Beryl Spring in Yellowstone on the same day. He was later arrested after leading police officers in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on a wild goose chase.

Sentenced to prison for taunting a bison

the man runs away from the bison
Courtesy Lindsey Jones

Video showing an Oregon man harassing a bison in Yellowstone and then almost getting trampled, outraged by everyone.

Millions saw Raymond Reinke walk up to the massive animal on a park path in August 2018. The bison appeared to growl and the man ran off as he charged at it.

Reinke was eventually arrested and sentenced to 130 days in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of misconduct in national parks.

Visitors get too close to bears and bison

woman and bear

Every year, Yellowstone issues warnings about visitors getting too close to wildlife.

In 2021, an Illinois woman was charged with getting too close to a grizzly bear and her cubs. Witnesses told investigators that when they saw the bears approaching, they returned to her vehicle and warned the woman to back up, but she didn’t until the grizzly charged her.

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Samantha Dehring was sentenced to four days in jail and one year of unsupervised probation.

Other visitors have been gored by bison, and earlier this month a couple approached two fighting bison as bystanders yelled at them to back off.

Yellowstone asks all visitors to stay at least 100 yards from bears or wolves, and at least 25 yards from all other wildlife.

Visitors cook chickens in hot springs

An Idaho Falls man and two others were in hot water after they were found with pots and two chickens at a Yellowstone hot springs area in August 2020.

The group was near the Shoshone Geyser Basin with pots when they called a ranger and discovered two whole chickens in a burlap sack sitting in a hot spring with a pot nearby.

In Yellowstone it is prohibited to travel outside of designated boardwalks or trails in hydrothermal areas, as well as placing anything in thermal features.

Partial human foot found in a shoe

A Yellowstone National Park employee found part of a foot inside a shoe floating in a hot pool in August 2022.

The discovery was made in the Abyss Pool in the West Thumb Geyser Basin in the southern part of the park.

A park spokesman said evidence suggests an incident involving one person likely occurred on July 31. Authorities believe there was no foul play, but the investigation is continuing to determine the circumstances of the death.

Woman trying to save dog from hot springs suffers serious burns

woman and dog
Left: Laiha Slayton before she was burned in Yellowstone National Park. Right: Slayton receiving treatment at EIRMC in Idaho Falls. | Courtesy Kamilla Slayton

A woman suffered burns to more than 90% of her body while trying to save her dog, which had run into a hot spring in October 2021.

Laiha Slayton’s dog, Rusty, ran into Maiden’s Grave Spring near the Firehole River, a thermal feature with a temperature of around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Laiha’s father pulled her from the spring and she was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in critical condition. Rusty was taken to a vet but did not survive.

Four months after the accident, Laiha spoke to EastIdahoNews.com after undergoing 18 surgeries. She was released from the hospital after a “miraculous” recovery.

Body of a man who fell into hot springs without being able to be recovered

yellow stone hot springs
file photo

The body of a man who fell into a hot spring in the Norris Geyser Basin in June 2016 could not be recovered.

Park officials told EastIdahoNews.com the hot springs temperature was “off the charts” when the 23-year-old Portland man slipped and fell. He and his sister were walking 225 yards off the boardwalk when he fell.

Hot springs have injured or killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature. In 2020, a 3-year-old boy ran off a trail, slipped, and fell into a small heat source. The boy was airlifted to the burn center at EIRMC with second degree thermal burns to his lower body and back.

Tourists put a bison in a car thinking it’s cold

Some worried tourists in Yellowstone National Park thought a bison calf was cold and put it in their truck in May 2016. | Courtesy of Karen Richardson

Two Canadian tourists saw a newborn bison calf in May 2016 and thought the animal was cold. They loaded it into their truck and headed to a ranger station “seriously concerned the calf was freezing to death.”

Park rangers were called and the father and son tourists were fined. The rangers followed the pair to where they had picked up the bison and released it.

Rangers repeatedly tried to reunite the calf with its herd, but human interference caused its mother to reject the bison. He was euthanized because he was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars on the road.