5 Ways to Get Yourself Banned from the National Parks

The national parks are for everyone—but that doesn’t mean that anything goes. Play fast and loose with the rules, and you could find yourself on the outside looking in.

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Crashing a Drone

The Crime: Andreas Meissner was shooting video for his friend’s nonprofit when he crashed his camera drone into Lake Yellowstone in 2014. Rangers “caught” him when he asked for their help retrieving it; when officials examined the memory card, they discovered that he had made two other flights in the park.

The Punishment: Prohibited from entering Yellowstone for one year; fined $1,600 and sentenced to one year probation.

“Fixing” a Sign

The Crime: Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson, who called themselves the Typo Eradication Advancement League, were on a cross-country trip when they added a comma and moved an apostrophe on a sign at Grand Canyon’s Desert View Watchtower in 2008. The sign was a hand-painted antique, and the NPS came calling after Deck and Herson posted about the catch on their blog.

The Punishment: Booted from all national parks for one year; fined $3,035 and sentenced to one year probation.

Blocking a Road

The Crime: In 2014, Comfrey Jacobs—a volunteer with the Buffalo Field Campaign—tried to block trailers from taking Yellowstone bison to slaughter by chaining himself to a 50-gallon concrete-filled drum in the road. Officials used a tractor to move him out of the way, then spent hours cutting him loose.

The Punishment: Blacklisted from Yellowstone for three years; fined $3,355 and sentenced to three years probation

Collecting Artifacts

The Crime: Dawn Laate and Preston A. Waggoner illegally collected more than 40 Ancestral Puebloan artifacts from Lowry Ruin in Colorado’s Canyon of the Ancients National Monument in 2009. A visitor to the monument saw them and alerted a nearby BLM ranger.

The Punishment: Barred from Canyon of the Ancients for one year; fined $2,500 each, with $2,000 suspended, and had to publish letters of apology in local papers.

Dumping Waste

The Crime: James Barber was working at a wastewater treatment plant in Mt. Rainier in 2011 when a buildup clogged one of the filters. Instead of fixing it, he opened an emergency bypass, dumping roughly 200,000 gallons of sewage into the Nisqually River, then went on vacation.

The Punishment: Banned from Mt. Rainier for five years; fined $15,000 and sentenced to 30 days home confinement and one year probation.