Continuing from my previous post on canyons and wild life of Yellowstone, here we will take you through the most interesting features of Yellowstone – geothermal hot springs.
Geothermal, geysers and hot springs are the centerpiece of attraction in Yellowstone park. They are concentrated primarily into two areas – Norris Geyser basin and Upper geyser basin. So if you are touring the lower loop of Yellowstone park, you have to skip Norris Geyser basin.
The Lower Loop highlights include the Upper Geyser Basin with its world famous Old Faithful Geyser, Lower Geyser Basin, Firehole River, Gibbon River and Falls, Monument Geyser Basin, Yellowstone River, Mud Volcano and West Thumb Geyser Basin. It could take more than one day to tour the lower loop, if you want to hike all the attractions. Since we have just a day to our selves, so we had concentrated only on Old faithful geyser basin trail loop.
Upper Geyser Basin – is most famously known for Old Faithful Geyser but it offers much more than that. It is fascinating area and boast the largest concentration of geysers in the world. The geothermal features are sight to behold both for geologist and travelers alike. The point of attractions are connected with an elaborate system of boardwalks and let you enjoy the colorful pools and geysers from a safe distance.
Below are the two images of Old Faithful, taken at morning and afternoon. It erupts at every 45-90 minute and each time you could see people gathered near in a semi-circular fashioned seating arrangement, waiting with abated breadth to watch nature’s live theater.
We watched the Old Faithful geyser before hiking onto the boardwalk trails. Some other notable geyser in the vicinity of the Old Faithful are Grand, Beehive, Giant and Plume.
Below is the Grand geyser, that erupts every 7- 15 hours with powerful burst like fountain and can shoot up to 150 -200 feet in the air, making it the tallest geyser in the world.
Beehive geyser – We could not reach in time to watch the magnificent slender jet of eruption that on clear day creates delicate rainbows.
Another one. There are so many of them that it is difficult to remember the names.
Below pictures are of Anemone geyser groups. Unlike other geysers, they looks interesting to me, and being a geologist I sometimes took pictures that are not touristy. If you wait till the end, then this is an excellent geyser to show typical geyser behavior as within a few minutes, the vents fill, erupt and drain. These are characteristically marked by geyserite nodules (opaline silica) that gets deposited on the walls of the geyser’s plumbing system and on the surface.
Hot springs – apart from geysers, other geothermal features that are abundant in Yellowstone park and worth visiting are the beautiful hot springs. Hot springs are produced by geothermal heated groundwater, superheated water cools as it reaches the surface, sinks, and is replaced by hotter water from below. So many emanates only steams and in some you could see incessant bubbling hot water.
Below is the Bluestar Spring. The deep azure blue color of the pool is so mesmerizing. Other notable pool nearby is the heart spring.
This one is Chinese Spring. Note the bubbling hot water and the colorful surrounding area that are caused by the mineral rich hot waters, yellow for sulfur and red for iron oxides.
Crested Pool – The deep blue shades of azure surrounded by crystalline white rim, in turn surrounded by hues of ocher yellow, red and pinkish at places, is definitely a sight to behold. Most of the springs are similar in characteristic, they differ only in shapes and beauty.
Somewhere colors are more gorgeous than the others, indicating their high acidic nature. The super heated water reaches the surface, cools, and then sink back via the convection currents, resulting in the zones of temperature gradation around the pool. As these waters are also mineral rich, many communities of microbes thrives in different zones surrounding the pool, imparting rainbow of colors that are equally mesmerizing. Grand Prismatic spring in Midway Geyser basin is perfect example of this and provide the most iconic image of Yellowstone.
The Old Faithful boardwalk continues north towards Castle and Grand area, which received its name after two prominent geysers: Castle and Grand. The boardwalk continues to the Giant-Grotto Area, Morning Glory-Riverside Area and ends up at Biscuit Basin.
Below are the Castle geyser images. This one erupts at every 10- 12 hour which is followed by some 30-40 min steam phase. And is very picturesque. At the base of Castle’s huge geyserite cone sits Tortoise Shell Spring. It is constantly boiling and splashing a few feet high.
Upper geyser basin is the most photographed and famous of all the other three basins, and on a single day if you complete the board walk you can visit all the major attractions. Beyond Castle-Grand area the boardwalk continues up to Biscuit Basin, and the star attraction there is the Morning glory Pool. The boardwalk at some point bifurcates to Black Sand basin, little off the way but people hike all the way for the beautiful Sapphire pool.
As we have just a single day to enjoy the Yellowstone, we saw no point in rushing towards the attraction points and photographing each and every geyser and springs from all possible angles. That is very touristy to me and not my idea to explore the place.
Though we had booked a guided tour, but at many places we were on our own. We quietly walked through the boardwalk, stopped at some interesting points, and wondered at the beauty of the nature, the unique landscape, and the distinctive features for which Yellowstone has become truly a wonderland on this planet.
This is just a glimpse of what Yellowstone holds for you, will return next week with Fountain pot trail.