What You Missed: Yellowstone Bans Forrest Fenn Treasure Hunter

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Welcome to What You Missed, our daily digest of breaking news and topical perspectives from across the outdoor world. You can also get this news delivered to your email inbox six days a week by signing up for the What You Missed newsletter.

Forrest Fenn’s treasure may have been found, but the hunt continues to generate news.

On November 2, an appellate court in Wyoming upheld the conviction of Mark Lantis, one of the many adventurers who participated in the decade-long search for Fenn’s buried treasure. The court decided that Lantis broke the law when he hunted for Fenn’s treasure in Yellowstone National Park, got lost, and had to be rescued. Rangers cited him for disorderly conduct at the time.

Court documents provide a detailed rundown of Lantis’s rescue. In August 2018 he hiked into Yellowstone to search for the treasure along the Mount Holmes Trail, a 15.6-mile out-and-back that covers extremely rugged terrain. It was a cold and rainy day, yet Lantis left with minimal supplies and a light jacket. After straying from the trail, he became lost and called his family members for help. Lantis spent a cold and wet night in the park before making phone contact with rangers the following day.

When they were unable to locate him, they radioed a helicopter crew which eventually rescued Lantis.

Rangers say Lantis was reckless and created unnecessary risks. A judge sentenced Lantis to five years of probation and banned him from entering Yellowstone for five years. Lantis must also pay the National Parks Service $2,880—the cost of his rescue.

The story isn’t over, as Lantis plans to appeal the ruling, again.

While the search for Fenn’s buried treasure inspired books and countless media reports—it also generated plenty of controversy. In 2010 Fenn, an eccentric millionaire and art collector, said he’d buried a chest containing gold and valuables somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and then published his memoirs, which contained hints about the location. Dozens ventured into the backcountry looking for the cache, relying on a poem Fenn wrote as the primary clue.

Multiple treasure hunters broke the law during their quests to dig up the gold, and five hunters died from accidents. One man was also arrested in 2018 after he broke into Fenn’s Santa Fe residence and attempted to steal what he believed to be the treasure chest.

In 2020 a medical student from Michigan named Jack Stuef found the treasure in Wyoming. While the hunt is over, the story lives on.

Parts of Sequoia National Park Reopen 

Visitors can now venture back into Sequoia National Park, but the tallest trees are still off-limits.

The California park has been closed for nearly two months after devastating wildfires ravaged thousands of acres and burned hundreds of redwood trees.

On Thursday officials reopened the park’s Foothills Visitor Center, Tunnel Rock, and a handful of trails near the main entrance. The famed giant sequoia groves—and the 275-foot General Sherman tree—are still closed.

In September the Colony and Paradise Fires combined to form the enormous KNP Complex Fire, which ravaged sections of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, as well as huge swaths of national forest and designated wilderness. Hundreds of giant sequoia trees burned, and images circulated the globe of officials draping the 200-foot-tall trees an aluminum blankets to prevent embers from igniting them.

The efforts saved some of the park’s most famous redwoods: General Sherman, Four Guardsman, and Lodgepole, among others. But more than 100 of the huge trees were lost, including the sequoia grove in Starvation Creek. Storms dumping rain and snow helped douse the KNP Complex Fire in early November, and officials say the fire is now 70 percent contained.

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