Four Canadian men have become the center of a Yellowstone National Park law enforcement investigation after they posted photos and video of themselves walking on the Grand Prismatic Spring.
The men, tagged on Facebook as Justis Cooper, Alexey Lyakh, Hamish McNab Campbell Cross and Ryker Gamble, have posted extensively in recent weeks about what they dubbed “The Great American Road Trip,” taken in a large blue bus.
Sunday, the quartet posted an album of 69 photos of themselves in Yellowstone on the Facebook page High on Life SundayFundayz for their film and clothing company, several of which showed them clearly walking off the boardwalk at the Midway Geyser Basin. Some photos showed them all but touching the waters of the Grand Prismatic Spring.
A YouTube video of the day in Yellowstone showed the men photographing warnings against stepping off the boardwalk in thermal areas and speculating that the waters “must be extremely hot.”
“We have reached the most beautiful, colorful basin in Yellowstone,” Gamble said in the film.
Shortly after that, the video featured multiple shots that clearly were not taken from the boardwalk.
Yellowstone officials received reports of the four men all through Monday, spokeswoman Charissa Reid said.
“That is absolutely against the rules,” she said. “Now that we know about it, we’ll give it our full attention.”
Reid said images and videos of the men, including some that witnesses took at the time, have been sent to the park’s law enforcement department for further investigation.
The YouTube video the men made showed them stating the intention to leave the park and travel into Montana and Idaho in the coming days for further adventure videos. Leaving the park makes it more difficult for law enforcement to track the men down, Reid said, though not necessarily impossible.
Rangers can contact violators who leave the park by using license plate numbers and vehicle descriptions, among other identifying factors.
Messages to the High on Life Facebook page had not received a response by the Jackson Hole Daily’s deadline, and the photos showing the men off the boardwalk were removed from Facebook at around 5 p.m. Monday. The YouTube video was also taken down.
The road trip postings also feature shots from a trip to Badlands National Park that appear to have been taken with a drone. If the drone flew within the boundaries of the park, that would also violate regulations of the National Park Service that prohibit the use of drones in all of the nation’s parks.
A tourist from the Netherlands who crashed a drone in Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic Spring in August 2014 was sentenced to pay a fine of $1,000 and more than $2,200 in restitution. Later that year, a man from Germany was banned from Yellowstone for a year, given a year of probation and ordered to pay fines and restitution of more than $1,600 for crashing a drone in Yellowstone Lake.
The website for the High on Life SundayFundayz clothing line states that the company is based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, and is run by a group of childhood friends.
The company lists Lyakh and Gamble as two of its owners on its website.