A Vancouver-based group is apologizing and offering up a donation after photos of four men walking through a protected, delicate ecosystem went viral online.

The group of men travel the world making videos of their travels online, under the name "High on Life SundayFundayz."

Last week, the foursome passed through Yellowstone National Park, a 5,600-square-kilometre park located mostly in Wyoming. The park, which also spreads into neighbouring Idaho and Montana, sits on top of a volcanic hot spot, and is known for the Grand Prismatic Spring.

The brightly coloured hot spring is a popular tourist destination, though visitors to the park are prohibited from approaching the area. Instead, visitors are encouraged to hike to a higher viewpoint to see the tie-dyed-looking natural wonder, or to take photos from a distance on the boardwalk.

However, the High on Life group decided to walk away from the boardwalk to take part in an illegal photo shoot, despite posted signs warning tourists not to disturb the delicate ecosystem.

The rule-breaking behavior was caught on camera in a video posted to YouTube by a user who wanted to remain anonymous. The user also emailed photos and video to Yellowstone officials.

The men in the video were initially unidentified, but the group posted photos online, and internet users tracked them down. The photos have since been deleted, but not before dozens of Facebook users commented that the photos had been sent to the park, and were going viral.

On Tuesday, the group posted a photo of the spring along with an apology, saying they "got over zealous" and were "drawn" to approach the sensitive ecosystem.

In a statement to CTV News, one of the men said the group wanted to apologize.

"We did not respect the protected environment we were exploring, and we want to acknowledge our wrongdoing and apologize to our community and to the public," Charles Ryker Gamble wrote.

Quoting from the Facebook post, he added, "we acted in a way that doesn't reflect our respect for the environment we were trying to capture. It was the wrong decision to make. We realize that now."

The men wrote that they would like to use the attention to help the park, and that they will donate $1 every time someone shares a positive memory on the park's Facebook page, using the hashtag #DonationforYellowstone. They said they would donate up to $5,000.

They later told CTV that they'd be looking for additional ways to make up for their mistake in the next few days, "and will of course be accepting the ramifications of our actions."

The group wrote that they'd "wandered" off the path and were "unaware of the ecological ramifications," but their apology was ill-received by some who saw it.

Many people commented that there are signs on the path warning visitors not to leave the boardwalk, and wrote that the park distributes literature to tourists about the dangers.

One person posted a screen grab from YouTube in the comments section, showing a man taking a photo of the sign explaining the dangers of leaving the boardwalk. The commenter said that the person in the photo is a member of the group.

Another posted that the group's "narcissism is astounding," and that they'd damaged the area to promote themselves, rather than the landmark.

A criminal complaint has been filed against Gamble, Justis Cooper Price-Brown and Alexey Andriyovych Lyakh. The incident was reported to park rangers, who tracked the licence plates of the vehicle the men travelled in, which is registered to Gamble.

According to the complaint, the men had walked approximately 23 metres from the boardwalk to take the photos.

The incident is the second time this week that the park has made headlines for the behaviour of unruly Canadian tourists. On Monday, the Associated Press reported that a bison calf had to be euthanized after well-meaning park visitors from Quebec put the animal in their vehicle.