David Lesh mugshot

‘Worst Tourist in the World’ Banned From Public Lands

The man who Instagrammed multiple of his own public lands violations has now been banned from virtually all of them.

Last Friday, 35-year-old former pro skier David Lesh received a stinging punishment after U.S. District Judge Gordon Gallagher in Grand Junction officially banned him from millions of acres of public lands — all federal lands in the U.S., in fact. That includes “National Forests, National Monuments, Bureau of Land Management land and other federal property,” according to Judge Gallagher’s ruling.

So far, he trespassed, rode a snowmobile in a wilderness area, rode a dirt bike on protected grasslands, and defecated in a Colorado watershed. And it’s all been documented publicly.

Not only does Lesh trespass on public land areas (the crime he entered into a plea deal for), but worse, he brags about his illegal exploits on social media. In the comments, people have called him “the worst tourist in the world.”

And his attitude and actions have riled residents who live nearby. More than 20 Colorado residents wrote to Judge Gallagher asking for him to give the defendant the most severe punishment possible. There’s also currently a citizen-led petition to revoke his business license (an outdoor apparel brand).

tresspassing public lands
Left, Lesh at Maroon Lake; right, Lesh trespassing at Hanging Lake while closed

In addition to the ban, Judge Gallagher also banned Lesh from posting anything on any social media platform “of himself or anyone else violating state or federal laws on public lands,” the Colorado Sun reported. The ban will last at least for the duration of the federal court case against Lesh.

Earlier in October, Lesh entered into a plea deal “not to trespass on closed national forest lands and to follow rules on open lands.” However, just weeks after agreeing to the terms of his plea, Lesh posted a photo of himself defecating in the Maroon Bells Wilderness near Aspen. (It is illegal to enter, swim, or wade in the alpine lake, not to mention defecating in it.)

In court, Lesh’s attorney raised the possibility his client could have doctored the photo or taken before the judge’s order. But Judge Gallagher implemented the full ban in response to Lesh’s past actions and their potential to inspire copycat behavior.

“I find it appropriate to change (Lesh’s bond conditions) … to protect the land not only from Mr. Lesh’s direct actions, but also from the influence Mr. Lesh clearly has,” Gallagher said.

All of the current counts against Lesh are misdemeanors. However, based on his recent actions and decision to violate his plea deal, he could face more charges. The two cases against Lesh are ongoing.

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Mary Murphy
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Mary is based out of GearJunkie's Denver, CO office. She has a degree in English and Journalism, and been writing professionally for over five years. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.