We always put money in self pay envelopes, we don't pick wildflowers, and if we had a pet would certainly clean up after it.
But on this day we ignored this sign and went off the marked and maintained trail so that we, like many before us, could get a "from the top" view of the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring.
After reading my post about how we were disappointed by the steamy eye-level view we had gotten at Midway Geyser Basin, Donna sent me the URL of a post she had written about how she had gone up a trail that went up the hill from the Fairy Falls Trail to the rock overlook, from which the view of the Grand Prismatic is spectacular.
Thank you Donna, especially for the advice about going on a warm afternoon when there was less steam.
We followed the cinder gravel Fairy Falls Trail for about a half mile and then went up one of the many unauthorized paths. Although it was not very far, I found it was a rather difficult climb, in part because since it was not a developed path, it was blocked by fallen trees and slippery rock falls.
I was very excited to see the bright pool thru the trees as we climbed.
We could hear the voices of other climbers who were already at the rock overlook.
When we reached the top there was an Asian family just leaving.
While we were there a few other people came and went. At one time there were only seven of us up there, but over a hundred people on the boardwalks around the spring below. I wondered if they could see the color since there still was a bit of steam rising.
I don't understand why the Park Service doesn't build a staircase and a viewing platform on the side of that hill. They built stairs down to the waterfalls, and up around some of the mud pots and geysers. This place is so fantastic and in the visitors center they show pictures from up high. But unless you get up to this point, you will never see it. People are going up any way they can, and in the process causing erosion and damage that could be prevented with a maintained trail.