Members of a tour group have been ticketed for getting a closer look at Old Faithful after someone watching on a webcam several states away saw them walking on the cone of the iconic geyser, according to Yellowstone National Park rangers.
"We will see a few people off the boardwalk at Old Faithful every year," park spokesman Al Nash told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. "I don't know that anybody recalls an incident in modern times with this number of people at one time getting that close.
"Thirty people were clustered about the cone of an active geyser. Certainly if it would have erupted while they were in that area, we would have found ourselves responding to an incident with many people seriously hurt."
Someone watching from Wisconsin called rangers Wednesday evening to tell them about the errant tourists, according to a news release. When the first park ranger arrived, she found about 30 people around the geyser's cone taking pictures.
The tourists said they didn't see the signs that spell out the dangers of thermal areas and the requirement to stay on boardwalks and designated trails.
The Yellowstone trip planner brochure warns visitors of the dangers of the park's hydrothermal features. "Their waters are frequently near or above boiling. The crust surrounding them is thin and breaks easily, and often overlies more scalding water. People have died in these pools. Be safe, be careful — enjoy the hydrothermal areas from a distance."
Old Faithful erupts with scalding blasts of 204-degree water. The eruptions occur every hour or two — less predictable than the geyser's name suggests.
The group leader, the bus driver and one member of the first group of four visitors were cited with a $125 fine.
Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.