After venturing past the west entrance to Yellowstone, seeing a bison (see yesterday's blog) and a coyote, we continued on the main loop road into the park. It wasn't long before we started seeing beautiful pull outs for the Madison River, and fly fisherman trying to catch some trout in the river. On we went, and the landscape started to change quite a bit...there were grayish looking patches on the ground and some steam rising out of places in the ground. We knew we were coming into some pool and geyser areas.
Yellowstone sits on a hydrothermal wonderland, the largest collection of hydrothermal features on the planet. People can cause damage by walking on fragile, unstable grounds that could collapse under them, damage the vents and disrupt the natural features by throwing rocks, stones, coins or other things into the pools or vent holes of the geysers and pools. We saw rivers of boiling water rolling down the hills, hissing as they hit the river that runs through the western side of the park. We think the river is called the Madison River.
If what you see has a LOT of water, it's a geyser or a hot spring, if it has limited water, it's a mudpot or fumerole. The colors in the pools are caused by bacteria..thermophiles (heat loving bacteria) and the green, brown and orange colors are mostly cyanobacteria. They can live in waters as hot as 167 degrees. We felt the heat coming off of the pools and groundwater, that's for sure! We heard hisses and roars coming from the fumaroles we saw today....a lot of gases are expelled through the rocks and into the air at these features......
If you just continue on the loop road towards Old Faithful, you then come across yet more geysers and pools. Each viewing area has a boardwalk to walk around the hydrothermal features..one of the most colorful pools called the Grand Prismatic Spring....unbelievable colors! The wind at this point was extremely strong due to heat and convection currents, would be my guess, and several people lost their caps and hats off onto the hot ground...Here's the Grand Prismatic Spring....
From the air, it looks like a sun with snaky tendrils coming out all around the edges...the orange, rust and brown is the bacteria living in the hot water...Here's another view of another pool at a different viewing area. This pool was called Silex Spring.
We saw so many cool features and landscape today, I'm a little confused as to which geyser basin we were in, but if you come in the west entrance, heading towards Old Faithful and the visitor center, this is all the stuff you see as you stop at each geyser/pool viewing point, and we're not even to Old Faithful yet!
Tomorrow we'll share more stories (something exciting) and photos! See you then!