At least eight people have died at Kaaterskill Falls, a picturesque waterfall in the Catskill Mountains, since 1992. And we might have Instagram to thank for the increase in fatalities.
The New York Times reports that according to forest ranger at the Falls Rob Dawson, the last four people who died at the site were either posing or taking pictures. The Falls is a particularly popular spot on Instagram and the newfound exposure has caused an influx of newbie hikers to the site, who simply don’t know safety protocols or trash formerly pristine swimming holes:
“Just talking to people who come up here, they say, ‘Yeah, we saw this on the internet — we’re trying to find it,’” Mr. Dawson said. “The unfortunate thing is, with those pictures, there’s nothing informing people that you could get seriously hurt here, too.”
New York State has already spent $1.25 million trying to make Kaaterskill Falls safer, adding a stone staircase, warning signs, fences, and measures to keep visitors from going too close to cliff edges. And the problems facing Kaaterskill Falls are part of a larger issue with public lands that get popular on social media. Parks have struggled to keep new visitors in line who destroy these natural habitats and in the past few years people taking pictures or vlogs at spots like The Gap cliff face in Australia, the Grand Canyon, and Shannon Falls in British Columbia have fallen to their deaths.
To those seeking out the pretty swimming holes and waterfalls IRL, be aware of your surroundings, and please just try to take in nature without taking the perfect ’gram, okay?