Tourists ask the darnedest things: Real questions asked of Yellowstone employees

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If kids say the darnedest things, it is tourists who ask the darnedest things. Just ask anyone who works in the industry, including staffers at Yellowstone National Park.

Not surprisingly, some of the more naïve questions come from visitors who can’t wrap their minds around the notion of free-roaming wildlife.

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“What time do you let the animals out of their cages?”

“Where do you keep all the bison?”

“It just so happens a big bull was walking through the picnic area about 25 yards behind us,” and when a staffer pointed it out the reply was, “Oh, thank you very much for doing that. You are wonderful!”

“Are all the elk in the fields down Route 89 for restocking the park when the wolves eat them?”

Many questions center on Yellowstone’s wealth of geothermal and other stunning natural attributes.

An employee of the Yellowstone advised a visitor that an upcoming meteor shower was expected to be spectacular.

“Oh, who puts the meteor shower on?” asked the guest. “Is it the National Park Service or do y’all do that yourselves?”

When asked by a visitor “How heavy’s that mountain?” a wry tour guide answered, “With or without trees?”

A concerned tourist from Great Britain had just watched the docudrama “Supervolcano: The Truth about Yellowstone.” Concerend, the Brit wondered if perhaps he’d be safer staying in another area of the park.

And then there’s the standard, “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?”

A front desk staffer has fielded questions ranging from whether its namesake geyser and others go off at night and in the winter, to whether the bison are animatronic.

A young boy clutching a bear bell, which hikers attach to their packs or boots to avoid surprising bears, was overheard asking, “Mom, why would you put a bell on a bear?”

An Austrian couple asked a security staffer how much chlorine it takes to keep the lake clean.

Another question was if Yellowstone’s mud pots were the same as mud baths, and whether it’s OK to soak in them.

One couple stopped a staffer and pointed to a set of stairs and asked, “Do these stairs go up?”

“I tried to process the odd question,” the worker recalled, “and responded, “It certainly appears so!”