Jacob W. Frank/NPS
Park rangers in Yellowstone recently had their hands full with an unruly visitor.

J.D. Simkins  –  July 1, 2021

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National Parks are experiencing extreme overcrowding, and larger crowds provide an inevitably higher chance to witness erratic behavior—not from the wildlife, but courtesy of our inherently flawed species.

Just ask the park rangers, who, in addition to dealing with a surge of gross inexperience from new campers ignoring elementary cleanup protocols, had the recent displeasure of confronting one Indiana man who believed Yellowstone National Park to be the perfect place to unleash a drunken tirade.

Kyle F. Campbell, 31, was handed a 60-day prison sentence, five-year ban from the park, and a $1,550 fine after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct stemming from a June 21 visit to the park’s Grant Marina on Yellowstone Lake, where he and a group were scheduled for a guided kayak trip, according to the National Park Service.

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“The guide refused to take the group as he thought they were too intoxicated,” NPS officials said. “Campbell and his group became upset and created a disturbance that led the kayak guide to call security officers and park law enforcement rangers. During the encounter, Campbell made threatening comments and gestures toward the officers. He also exhibited signs of being intoxicated and refused to obey officers’ orders. Campbell continually struggled and kicked at the rangers, resisting arrest, and later injuring himself while banging his head in the patrol car.”

More specifically, those threatening comments from Campbell, made as he was being restrained, included assertions that he would “read our name tags repeatedly, state that he would remember our names, find us, blow us away on the side of the road, and kill us,” according to officer statements in charging documents obtained by Montana’s KTVQ.

In a courtroom in Mammoth, Wyoming, Campbell pleaded guilty to a litany of charges on top of the disorderly conduct, including threatening and resisting a government employee and contempt of court after he reportedly refused to provide a blood sample.

“We understand that people are eager to get out this summer and enjoy our national parks; however, this type of behavior is unacceptable,” Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray said. “Thanks to the quick actions taken by park rangers and the park vendor’s security officers, no one was seriously harmed. Stay sober, because unruly and intoxicated behavior will only earn you a spot with the jailbirds rather than enjoying the beauty and adventure of Yellowstone.”

Issues stemming from park overcrowding are not unique to Yellowstone, of course. Coinciding with the warming summer weather, Utah has seen unprecedented crowds flocking to its five national parks, with many park personnel likening the crowds to something one would see at Disneyland.

At this time last year in Oregon, the mass exodus from pandemic-fueled confinement yielded several detriments, as the state’s stunning coastline, thick forests, and high desert regions played host to never-before-seen crowds.

“On the Oregon Coast and west of the Cascades, we’re seeing a level of use well beyond a normal year,” Chris Havel, spokesman for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, told the Statesman Journal last year. “It’s like having the crowds you see for a holiday weekend, except all the time.”

Whatever your plans this holiday weekend, do your best to embrace civility, and as always, leave no trace.


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