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Stranger than Fiction
A visitor to Glacier National Park in Montana lost his car keys
while attempting to lure a ground squirrel by dangling the keys
out in front of the critter. The squirrel grabbed the keys and
ran down a hole with them. The keys were never retrieved, a
ranger cited the man for harassment of wildlife, and a locksmith
was called to make new car keys.
.... putting our loved ones at risk for a photo
In May of 1994, Tony Moore, 43, of Marietta, Georgia, was gored
and seriously injured by a large male bison in Yellowstone, next
to the Lake Hotel. Moore and a friend had approached to within
15 feet of the bison to have their pictures taken. While they
were standing with their backs to the animal, it charged. Moore's
companion escaped, but Moore received a severe puncture wound in
his right thigh and was taken by ambulance to a hospital in
Jackson for treatment.
.... watching for falling rocks
A visitor setting up camp at Lake Eleanor in Yosemite National
Park hit herself on the head with a rock while trying to string
up her food to protect it from bears.
.... requesting assistance
In 1994, a woman visiting from the Bay Area embarked on a solo
hike to the summit of El Capitan in Yosemite. When she became
lost and saw a storm brewing, she called 911 from her cellular
phone and asked to be rescued. A helicopter found her barely off
the trail and one-fourth to half a mile from the top of El Cap.
When the 'copter lifted off and the woman saw how close she was
to her summit goal, she asked the crew to set her down on top.
When the crew declined, she threatened to sue them for
.... caring for the creatures
A woman, appearing rather distraught, came into the visitor
center at Redwood National Park in California to report that she
had seen several Irish setters lying along the edge of the
highway and she feared they were dead or injured. Rangers
explained to her that these were pieces of redwood bark that had
fallen off logging trucks.
.... asking for directions
Darryl Stone, now superintendent at Jefferson National Expansion
Memorial in St. Louis, remembered working the entrance station at
Yosemite when a woman drove up and asked, "Which way are the
geysers?" Ranger Stone directed her to continue 1,000 miles
further to Yellowstone and told her there were no geysers at
Yosemite. "Yes, there are," she said. "I have a friend who saw
them." Stone and the woman went round and round several times
before she left, insisting that there were geysers at Yosemite.
Later she wrote a letter to the chief ranger complaining that
Stone had refused to provide her with the information she
.... back-seat driving, as always
When an elderly couple stopped to film some bears at Dunraven
Pass in Yellowstone, a young bear crawled into their car
searching for food. Unable to make the bear leave, the
exasperated (but well-dressed) couple drove about 17 miles to the
ranger station at Canyon Village with the bear in the back seat.
When the husband got out to report the incident, the bear hopped
over into the front seat so that investigating rangers found the
woman in the passenger seat and the bear behind the wheel.
.... all tuckered out from our day hikes
In 1993 a woman called 911 from the top of Half Dome using her
cellular phone. According to dispatch, she reported: "Well, I'm
at the top and I'm really tired." The answering ranger asked if
she felt sick. "No," she said, "I'm just really tired and I want
my friends to drive to the base and pick me up." The dispatcher
explained that she would have to hike down the trail she had
ascended. The visitor replied, "But you don't understand, I'm
really tired." What happened next? "It turned out we got
really lucky," the ranger said, "her phone battery died."
.... taking mementos home with us
Each year visitors to Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona
pocket an estimated 12 tons of petrified wood to take home
(despite numerous warnings not to take wood and the fact that
this criminal violation carries a minimum fine of $275). Some
years back, several female foreign visitors, clad only in
bikinis, were observed hiding wood in their garments. Another
time, rangers received a report that a man had put a large piece
of wood in his car. Upon searching his vehicle, they found a
40-pound piece of petrified wood in his trunk. According to
rangers, this visitor said he didn't know how it got there. "My
four-year-old son must have put it in there," the man said.
.... ever alert to terrorism
A group of European visitors came into the Wawona ranger station
in Yosemite National Park and said, "Our car is parked at the
trail head and it's been blown up by terrorists." Though rangers
expressed some doubt, the visitors insisted that a bomb had
exploded in their car and that they could see powder residue from
the explosives. Investigating rangers indeed found that a door
had been torn off and a powder-like substance--pancake flour--was
strewn about the car. "They were quite embarrassed when we showed
them the bear prints," the ranger said.
.... ignoring the sage advice of rangers
A camper at Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park decided to
take a dip in the lake with her dog despite signs saying "No
swimming--Danger--Alligators." She swam to an island about 75
yards from the shore, then saw some alligators and refused to
swim back. "Didn't you see the signs?" asked the ranger who
retrieved her in a canoe. "Sure," she said, "but I didn't think
they applied to me."
Park incidents were compiled by writer Debra Shore.
"What time do they let the animals out in the park?"
--Visitor at Denali National Park
"Why did the Indians only build ruins?"
--Visitor at the Grand Canyon
"What is your best parking area?"
--Visitor at Zion National Park
"Where's the road to the summit?"
--Visitor at Mount Rainier National Park
"Don't you think the polluted sky makes a much prettier
--Visitor at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore