Yellowstone Park Tourist Sentenced for Dangerous Trespassing

The Washington man who in April breached a fence near Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, getting within 15-20 feet of the steam vent, was sentenced by a magistrate judge in Wyoming on June 4.

According to a June 13 press release from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming, Magistrate Judge Stephanie Hambrick sentenced Viktor Pyshniuk, 21, to seven days in jail followed by two years of unsupervised release and ordered him to pay a $1,500 fine. Pyshniuk was also banned from visiting Yellowstone National Park for two years.

According to court documents, a park law enforcement officer responded to Steamboat Geyser on April 19 after a park employee reported seeing a man leaving the boardwalk and walking up the hillside toward the geyser, an action park officials call “thermal trespass.” 

The park employee took a photo that showed Pyshniuk within 15-20 feet of the geyser’s steam vent.

Pyshniuk told the responding officer that he wanted to take pictures from a closer vantage point. The officer noted the postings in the area that warned tourists that it was illegal to leave the boardwalk and explained that trespassing in a thermal area is dangerous due to the geothermal features of the ground surrounding the steam vent, including heated steam, mud pots, and water.

Judge Hambrick ordered Pyshniuk to serve his 7-day sentence at a federal facility closest to his home in Lynnwood, Washington before December 25, 2024.

She told Pyshniuk that the sentence would not only deter him but also other visitors to Yellowstone who might consider trespassing on thermal areas in the park. She said his actions were witnessed by others who could have chosen to follow his lead.

Acting US Attorney Eric Heimann said that entering the thermal areas in Yellowstone Park was “dangerous” and could harm “the natural resource.”

Steamboat Geyser is one of the tallest active geysers in the world with eruptions that can reach anywhere from six to 300 feet high.