Please, eager sightseers, do not swat golf balls or anything else into the majesty that is the Grand Canyon in the hopes of potentially going viral. And if you do—expect a fine.
Per a post on the Grand Canyon National Park Service’s Instagram alongside an article yesterday from The New York Times, Katie Sigmond—a popular TikTok and Instagram influencer who frequently uploads modeling, workout, and golf-related content—posted a clip on October 26 to Snapchat of her smashing a golf ball off a ledge of the Grand Canyon. As The New York Times reports, the TikTok star was initially charged with littering, tossing items into the canyon, and creating hazardous conditions with disorderly conduct—all of which carry a combined maximum fine of $5,000 and up to six months in prison.
However, an out-of-court agreement first confirmed by The Arizona Republic revealed that the influencer entered into an agreement to pay just $285.
The video, which has since been removed from the social media platform, showed a portion of Sigmond’s golf club flying from her hands and into the chasm. The TikTok personality’s identity was quickly revealed after someone uploaded a screenshot of the video to r/NationalParks last month.
“Do we really need to say, ‘don’t hit golf balls into the Grand Canyon?’” read the National Park Service’s subsequent Instagram post alongside the Snapchat screenshot showing the culprit’s golf club in midair. “Throwing objects over the rim of the canyon is not only illegal but can also endanger hikers and wildlife who may be below.”
[Related: Roam the Grand Canyon virtually with Google Maps.]
Unfortunately, the social media stunt is only the most recent in the persistent problem of visitors trashing national parks such as the Grand Canyon. Last year, the park posted a far more unsanitary issue plaguing NPS staff on Facebook—people apparently have a habit of relieving themselves in less-than-appropriate spots. “Pro tip for proper trail etiquette: Carry ALL trash out of the canyon—plan to use the restrooms provided, bag or bury waste, and bring a bag to carry out toilet paper,” the NPS wrote on Facebook at the time. “It may make you uncomfortable but no one else should need to handle your waste.”
Parks across the country have dealt with a lot of similar issues over the past few years as the tradeoff to the major uptick in visitors following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Americans turned to outdoor activities such as visits to nearby state and national parks as lockdowns and social distancing policies became the norm for months, and unfortunately, some of those visitors haven’t followed proper outdoor etiquette. So, please, leave your fireworks and golf clubs back at the house the next time you take a trip to some of our country’s greatest natural wonders.