Men convicted, sentenced for walking on Old Faithful Cone

The Old Faithful Geyser erupting in daylight from the balcony of the Old Faithful Inn. WyoToday photo by Ernie Over

Two men were recently sentenced for trespassing on the cone of Old Faithful Geyser, a closed thermal area. Eric Schefflin, 20, of Lakewood, Colorado, and Ryan Goetz, 25, of Woodstock, New York, appeared in court on December 5, 2019, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming.  Schefflin and Goetz pleaded guilty to the violation of thermal trespass.

On September 10, 2019, at about 8:30 p.m., employees and visitors witnessed two individuals walking on the cone of Old Faithful Geyser and reported it to park dispatch. A ranger contacted and cited Schefflin and Goetz.

Sentencing for each included:

  • 10 days of incarceration
  • $540 in restitution
  • Five years of unsupervised probation 
  • Five year ban from Yellowstone National Park 

“Visitors must realize that walking on thermal features is dangerous, damages the resource, and illegal. Law enforcement officers take this violation seriously. Yellowstone National Park also appreciates the court for recognizing the impact thermal trespass can have on these amazing features,” said Chief Ranger Sarah Davis.

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 exercise extreme caution around thermal features. Learn more about safety in thermal areas at go.nps.gov/yellsafety.