As summer is just about into the full swing of things I figured I would give a small PSA to all the people seeking to see the nation’s most beautiful and wonderous landscapes. While I wish everyone a safe and stress-free trip on the country’s roads and freeways, my focal point is more on being safe and smart in the country’s beautiful scene parks and campgrounds. Please don’t become a TOURON.
Touron: The combination of the word tourist and moron to describe any person who is on a vacation that acts of pure stupidity. Example: One who tries to walk up to a bison in Yellowstone with the false belief they can jump on the bison’s back and ride him for 8 seconds.
While the term may seem to be nothing more than a joke or used in a way to just keep non-locals out of an area, trust me it is more about keeping you the traveler safe and out of the hospitals. The term can sometimes be used for locals in my opinion when they try to show off for the tourist in their areas or new to an area.
What are some examples of Tourons?
From my own personal examples that I have seen with my own eyes or came across after the fact.
The first example was during my time living in Tehachapi, CA. For all the years I lived in Tehachapi I would drive to Lake Isabella and fish off the Kern River and the lake itself. Some of those times I would drive up the 178 from Bakersfield to Kernville and pass the sign telling you how many people have died in the Kern River since 1968. It had a warning of the powerful currents and rough jagged rocks that hide the dangers below the surface. Yet, I would see people each year jumping right in for a quick dip to cool off. Some would use inner tubes with ice chests tied to them.
Each year, the sign number would rise, sometimes by one or two, sometimes up to 5. Last I went through the canyon, it read 268 deaths, I’m a little unsure of the year, but I believe it was 2018. Wanting to give you an accurate number I looked it up and found the number to be 317 deaths as of May 2022. As of April of this year, the Kern County Search and Rescue walked the length of the Kern River looking for bodies of missing people that are yet to be found. Sometimes, the river doesn’t like to release its treasures.
Just recently I saw someone new to the Tehachapi area asking about a place to swim for free. While a great many were offering up slash parks in Bakersfield, one person thought it would be a great idea to tell them how great the Kern River is. Nevermind the dangers that even a former Bakersfield native and country western star Merle Haggard sang about in his hit song, “Kern River”
- KGET – KCSO updates Kern River death toll sign to 317 deaths
- Bakersfield Californian – KCSO search and rescue team searches Kern River for lost bodies during brief pause of power plant
2. The second case I saw was when I was camping in the Yosemite National Park area. We decided to take the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls. As we got to the halfway mark where there was a bathroom and water station we started to see missing person signs of three people that were last seen falling off the waterfall. They had fallen off the falls after going around a barricade that was there to prevent people from walking into the water at the edge of the fall.
Sadly, it started because a couple in a group of people wanted to get a picture of themselves sitting on a rock in the water. As the woman in the couple started to slip off the rock the man attempted to grab her. They both fell into the water and as they were being pulled closer to the fall a third man jumped in to attempt to save them both. Per eyewitnesses, when they went over the fall the three of them were hugging each other. One witness stated that the face of one of the men will never leave his mind.
It took almost the entire summer before they found the bodies of these three people when the snow melt had almost been depleted. The slower water flow allowed the search and rescue to travel up the rocky riverbed where they found each body wedged under large rocks.
- CBS Sacramento – Bystanders Horrified After 3 Die At Yosemite Waterfall
- NBC Bay Area – Waterfall Victims Hugged Tightly as They Went Over Edge
Doing a simple search online you will find these types of horrible situations at almost all National Parks in the country, and some in other countries. Stories like the one of a couple of people in Yellowstone finding a bison calf and placing it in their van to keep it warm, which was a death sentence to the calf. A man’s foot was found at the rim of a hot spring in Yellowstone last year. In the Grand Canyon, a man hikes off the trail to only end up falling to his death. And to show just how bad it is on the international level, a man falls into Mount Vesuvius as he attempted to get the best selfie, he luckily survived his fall.
- Cowboy State Daily – Yellowstone Makes Annual Plea To Tourists: Don’t Touch, Pet, Or Try To Saddle Wildlife
- U.S. News – Foot Found in Yellowstone Hot Pool, but Case Is Still Murky
- Fox News – A 44-year-old man slipped from Grand Canyon’s North Rim near Bright Angel Point Trail and died on Friday
- NBC News – U.S. tourist, 23, falls into Mount Vesuvius crater after taking a selfie — and survives
- Eyewitness News 7 – ‘Freak accident’: Bison attacks woman in South Dakota park, leaving her partially paralyzed