Did camera-equipped drone crash into Yellowstone’s largest hot spring?

Grand Prismatic Spring
Yellowstone National Park officials are investigating a report that a park visitor’s drone aircraft crashed into Grand Prismatic Spring on Saturday.
(Clement Bardot / Wikimedia Commons)

If you’re going to a national park this summer, leave your drone at home.

The National Park Service banned the use of “unmanned aircraft” of any shape or size in parks in June, but that hasn’t stopped some tourists from using high-tech flying cameras to snap photographs of dramatic landscapes and climbing feats.

The latest incident involves a camera-equipped drone that apparently crashed on Saturday into Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring at Yellowstone National Park and one of its top attractions.

CNN reports that park officials are trying to find the person who told a park employee that his drone had crashed into the pool and that he wanted it back. The photogenic landmark measures 370 feet in diameter and is more than 100 feet deep.


Now officials are trying to determine whether any damage was done to the pool and whether to try to retrieve the device. In a separate incident, a drone crashed into Yellowstone Lake earlier in the season, according to media reports.

Yellowstone isn’t the only park with drone woes. Last September an unmanned device was confiscated after it buzzed a crowded amphitheater at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. And Grand Canyon visitors complained about a noisy overhead drone that disturbed a peaceful sunset viewing moment in April.

Yosemite National Park in May reported a rise in the use of the aerial devices over the last few years and warned visitors not to use them.

“Drones have been witnessed filming climbers ascending climbing routes, filming views above tree-tops, and filming aerial footage of the park,” the park statement says.


“Drones can be extremely noisy, and can impact the natural soundscape. Drones can also impact the wilderness experience for other visitors creating an environment that is not conducive to wilderness travel.”

The park said drones also have the potential to interfere with emergency rescue operations, and the noise from the devices could disturb wildlife such as peregrine falcons during nesting time.