Days Of Rage In Yellowstone: Hot Tempers, Violent Threats Caught On Video

After calling someone an idiot for leaving the boardwalk at Yellowstone, tempers erupted and violent threats ensued. The man who started the confrontation said he probably could have handled the situation better.

Mark Heinz

July 07, 20233 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Shouting, shoving, profanity and even death threats were caught on video during a recent dispute in Yellowstone National Park.

The video was taken late last month by a park visitor who agreed to share it with Cowboy State Daily and speak with a reporter on the condition of anonymity.

It shows members of two parties quarreling on a boardwalk near some thermals. There is profanity, as well as some racially-charged epitaphs. At least one person threatens to “smoke” (shoot) members of the other party.

‘If I Had Just Kept My Mouth Shut’

The man who took the video said the dispute started when he called out another visitor for leaving the boardwalk to approach a thermal pool, which is dangerous and illegal in the park.

He told Cowboy State Daily that he and his family have been going to the park every summer for years. He said he’s sometimes had to warn other visitors to stay on the boardwalks and away from the thermals.

Toward the beginning of the video, he and other members of his party apparently call somebody who left the boardwalk an “idiot.”

They man whistles and shouts, “Hey, idiot!” at the alleged offender.

He said he regretted starting the encounter that way, and admitted he should have tried a different approach than immediately shouting the insult.

Given how the situation escalated, he said, he wonders if he should have said anything at all.

“I acknowledge if I had just kept my mouth shut, it wouldn’t have happened,” the man said.

Watch on YouTube

Confusion And Anger

The man said he took the video with a GoPro camera, which was apparently stopped and re-started at different points during the video.

He said that at one point, he tried to make it clear to the members of the other party that he was recording the incident in hopes that would diffuse the situation. But it just made things worse, he said.

The man taking the video can be heard telling the people he’s quarreling with that the video will “go viral.”

He added that a man from the other group shoved him and swung punches at him, but claimed that he didn’t retaliate physically.

The man who tried to get physical also threatened to shoot members of the other party, the man who took the video said. During the video, a man can be heard apparently making threats to retrieve a firearm and yelling, “Y’all don’t want to die tonight!”

A man who appears to be a member of the other party at one point also admonishes the man filming and his party to quit following them, but they appear to keep trailing the other party as shouting continues.

The man who took the video said he has a permit to legally carry a firearm in Yellowstone. He said that his weapon was not on his person during the altercation and was locked in his truck at the time.

No weapons appear to be flashed by anybody on either side of the confrontation during the video. However, the man with the camera mentions retrieving his firearm because he felt threatened.

Park More Crowded Now

The man told Cowboy State Daily that he’s never had an incident escalate to such a point during other visits to Yellowstone.

He added that since the COVID-19 pandemic, the park has become considerably more crowded, which could cause tempers to flare in some situations.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter