CODY, Wyo. -- A webcam viewer halfway across the country tipped off rangers in Yellowstone National Park this week when he saw members of a tour group walking on the Old Faithful geyser cone.
Park spokesman Al Nash said Friday that when park rangers arrived, they found as many as 30 people walking around the geyser cone taking pictures.
"They're out there in the evening walking in this fragile area near a geyser that erupts every 90 minutes," Nash said. "When you're putting out thousands of gallons of scalding hot water that can spew hundreds of feet into the air, people could have been seriously hurt."
Nash was unsure what tour group the people belonged to. Park rangers issued three citations for being off-trail in a thermal area. The $125 tickets were issued to the group leader, the bus driver and one other person, Nash said.
Group members said they didn't see any signage indicating the dangers or the park's rules that visitors stay on the boardwalk. The signs are prominently posted throughout the area.
"We're trying to use this to remind people that they really need to be careful in thermal areas," Nash said. "We want them to be here, but there are basic common-sense things we want them to focus on."
Nash said park geologists planned to inspect the geyser area for any damages done by the tour group.
This week's violation wasn't the first time a webcam viewer had notified park rangers of visitors walking off boardwalk and onto the cone of Old Faithful.
In 2009, six visitors were spotted urinating in the geyser cone. They were convicted of various charges, fined up to $750 and banned from the park for two years.
Nash said that each year, several visitors are burned by the park's thermal features because they didn't adhere to park rules.