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USA: Yellowstone NP
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USA: WY - SW Yellowstone NP
July 2019

Upper Geyser Basin (Old Faithful) Biscuit Basin Midway Geyser Basin (Grand Prismatic Spring)
Firehole Lake Drive Fountain Paint Pot
Yellowstone NP - Midway Geyser Basin: Grand Prismatic Spring

 


Vividly colourful, thermally active, spouting geysers and bubbling hot pools.

See also SE Yellowstone & North Yellowstone

 

Upper Geyser Basin (Old Faithful)

Old Faithful
Old Faithful
Old Faithful Yellow-headed Backbird
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Old Faithful

 

Old Faithful Geyser1 is famous, so of course you have to go and see it, but we thought there were many more beautiful and impressive sights in Yellowstone.

The geyser's claim to fame is that it is so predictable, on average every 92 minutes, though it can be as little as 51 minutes or as long as 120 minutes.

However, Upper Geyser Basin has much more to see: multi-coloured rocks, bubbling thermal springs and deep clear pools.


Video: Old Faithful erupts.

 

Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP
Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP

 

Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP
Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP
Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP
Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP

 

Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP
Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP
Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP
Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP
Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP
Storm front coming...
Huckleberry Pancakes
Huckleberry pancakes at the Old Faithful Inn.

 

We had a very good breakfast at the Old Faithful Inn. I had a short stack of huckleberry pancakes - three thick pancakes with blueberry syrup. Huckleberries are like blueberries but smaller and very intensely flavoured. I managed to eat about half.



Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP


Old Faithful
Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone NP
Old Faithful
Old Faithful

 

Old Faithful

 

Biscuit Basin

Biscuit Basin
Biscuit Basin

 

Biscuit Basin is 5 km north of Old Faithful. It was named for the unusual biscuit-like deposits that used to surround Sapphire Pool but these were destroyed when Sapphire erupted in the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake.

Biscuit Basin
Biscuit Basin
Biscuit Basin
Yellow-green thermophiles survive in the hotter waters at 75°C
Biscuit Basin
The thermophiles in cooler water are typically orange or brown.
Biscuit Basin
Biscuit Basin
Biscuit Basin
Biscuit Basin
Sapphire Pool
Biscuit Basin
Biscuit Basin

 

Midway Geyser Basin (Grand Prismatic Spring)

Midway Geyser Basin: Excelsior Geyser
Excelsior Geyser
A boardwalk keeps visitors safe and protects the fragile surface.


Midway Geyser Basin: Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring


Midway Geyser Basin: Grand Prismatic Spring


Midway Geyser Basin: Grand Prismatic Spring

A few bright blue thermal pools and the undisputed highlight of Grand Prismatic Spring in Midway Geyser Basin, north of Upper Geyser Basin.

Midway Geyser Basin: Excelsior Geyser
Excelsior Geyser

The water of Grand Prismatic Spring is a deep blue caused by light scattering from particles in the water. On the shore of the pool are deposits of vivid yellow and orange thermophiles. Grand Prismatic is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone, stretching 61m across and with a water temperature of 70 °C.

Midway Geyser Basin: Grand Prismatic Spring

Magma from an underground volcano heats water which forces its way to the surface through fissures in the rocks, creating the steaming spring which pours almost 2,000 litres of hot water a minute into the Firehole River.

Midway Geyser Basin: Grand Prismatic Spring
Midway Geyser Basin: Grand Prismatic Spring

 

Mats of organisms in the colourful landscape are symbiotic in nature. Microbes near the surface of the inches-thick mats use sunlight to perform photosynthesis while those below gain their energy from chemicals produced by the surface microbes.

Midway Geyser Basin: Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring

 

Firehole Lake Drive

Firehole Lake Drive
Firehole Spring

Firehole Lake Drive lies on the east side of the loop road between Lower and Upper Geyser Basins.

Firehole Lake Drive
Surprise Pool

 

Firehole Lake Drive
The huge cone of White Dome Geyser, seen here from Great Fountain Geyser, indicates that it has probably been erupting for hundreds of years.
Firehole Lake Drive
Great Fountain Geyser was not erupting while we were there. The geyser takes 10-14 hours to rebuild.

Video: Young Hopeful Geyser

There is parking at Firehole Lake, the largest hot spring in this area, and boardwalks.

Firehole Lake Drive
Young Hopeful Geyser on the shore of Firehole Lake.

 

Firehole Lake Drive

 

Fountain Paint Pot

Lower Geyser Basin: Bobby Socks Trees
"Bobby Socks" Trees
Lower Geyser Basin: Celestine Pool
Celestine Pool
Lower Geyser Basin: Bobby Socks Trees
"Bobby Socks" Trees

 

 

Fountain Paint Pot is within Lower Geyser Basin and a short (less than 1km) loop boardwalk makes it an easy visit, passing hot springs, pools, thermophile mats and geysers.

 

Near the start of the trail are some very good examples of the "Bobby Socks" trees - silica dissolved in rising super-heated water penetrated the lower parts of the trunks of lodgepole pines leaving a white deposit.

Lower Geyser Basin

As in many areas of the park, thermophiles thrive in the hot springs: typically yellow-green thermophiles at around 75°C, orange and brown in cooler water.

Lower Geyser Basin
Lower Geyser Basin: Fountain Paint Pot
Fountain Paint Pot
The Crow tribe used to paint their tipis with this mud.
Lower Geyser Basin

The bubbling mud pool that forms Fountain Paintpot is created by volcanic heat boiling water deep underground which then forces its way up to the surface, along with other gases such as hydrogen sulphide. Thermophiles consume some of the gases to create sulphuric acid which then breaks down the rock to form clay.

Lower Geyser Basin: Fountain Paint Pot
Lower Geyser Basin: Red Spouter
Red Spouter

Lower Geyser Basin

Scientists searching for life outside of earth study such extreme environments as these mud pools where thermophiles survive.

Red Spouter was born from the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake which measured 7.3 on the Richter scale, the most powerful in this area in recorded history. It ejects reddish water when the water table is high, but subsides to a muddy pool in late summer.

Lower Geyser Basin
Clepsydra Geyser

Clepsydra Geyser erupts virtually all the time - clepsydra is Greek for "water clock" and the name was given because it used to erupt every three minutes, but since the Hebgen earthquake in 1959 it has erupted almost constantly.

Lower Geyser Basin

Video: Clepsydra Geyser erupts.

Between the tree-clad hills are some fine desolate landscapes.

 

References

  1. Old Faithful - Yellowstone National Park