Young Child Suffers Serious Burns After Falling into Thermal Feature at Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone, geyser
Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone. Credit: NPS

A young child suffered severe burns in Yellowstone National Park on Friday after falling into a thermal feature near Midway Geyser Basin.

The three-year-old suffered second-degree-thermal burns to the lower body and back. The incident occurred just before noon near the Fountain Freight Road, near Midway Geyser Basin. The child took off running from a trail, slipped, and fell into the small thermal feature.

Due to the injuries sustained, the child was life-flighted to the Burn Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

The incident remains under investigation.

Rangers would like to remind people that the ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin, and there is scalding water just below the surface. Visitors must always remain on boardwalks and trails and exercise extreme caution around thermal features. Learn more about safety in thermal areas at

This is the second significant injury in a thermal area in 2020. In May of this year, a visitor (who illegally entered the park) fell into a thermal feature at Old Faithful while backing up and taking photos. In September 2019, a man suffered severe burns after falling into thermal water near the cone of Old Faithful Geyser. In June 2017, a man sustained severe burns after falling in a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin. In June 2016, a man left the boardwalk and died after slipping into a hot spring in Norris Geyser Basin. In August 2000, one person died and two people received severe burns from falling into a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin.

Midway Geyser Basin contains a small collection of mammoth-sized springs. Midway is part of the Lower Geyser Basin, but because of its isolated location between the main features of Lower and Upper geyser basins, it became known as Midway. Rudyard Kipling, who visited Yellowstone in 1889, immortalized this basin by referring to it as “Hell’s Half Acre.” Even today it is still remembered by that name. Despite its small size Midway possesses two of the largest hot springs in the world. Grand Prismatic Spring, nearly 370 feet in diameter, sits upon a large mound surrounded by small step-like terraces. The other feature, Excelsior Geyser, erupted nearly 300 feet high before the 1900s. It is now a dormant geyser and is considered a hot spring, discharging more than 4050 gallons of boiling water per minute. Other colorful springs include Turquoise and Indigo springs, known for their pale and dark blue colors. Across the Firehole River from Excelsior and Grand Prismatic springs are a series of small isolated, pristine springs and mud pots. The Rabbit Creek drainage possesses some colorful and unusual features and most are unnamed. Caution should be exercised while exploring this vicinity since the ground is unstable and trails are not maintained.

Yellowstone National Park

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