World’s Greatest Collection of Geysers
With half of the earth’s geothermal features, Yellowstone holds the planet’s most diverse and intact collection of geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and fumaroles. Its more than 300 geysers make up two thirds of all those found on earth. Combine this with more than 10,000 thermal features comprised of brilliantly colored hot springs, bubbling mudpots, and steaming fumaroles, and you have a place like no other. Geyserland, fairyland, wonderland–through the years, all have been used to describe the natural wonder and magic of this unique park that contains more geothermal features than any other place on earth.
I mentioned in a previous post that I was here, in part, to see the “hot stuff”. My location in West Yellowstone put me very close to that side of the park that contained the greatest concentration of thermal features.
Many of the thermal features are very approachable – the Park has built up a fairly extensive boardwalk system to allow visitors to get close to an incredible number of features
So many features, though, I was told at the visitor center, that most aren’t on the maps – simply too numerous – and, they display an amazing diversity of activity.
Old Faithful, certainly the most famous geyser, is joined by numerous others, big and small, named and unnamed…Though born of the same water and rock, what is enchanting is how differently they play in the sky.
Riverside Geyser, in the Upper Geyser Basin, shoots at an angle across the Firehole River, often forming a rainbow in its mist. Castle erupts from a cone shaped like the ruins of some medieval fortress. Grand explodes in a series of powerful bursts, towering above the surrounding trees. Echinus spouts up and out to all sides like a fireworks display of water. And Steamboat, the largest in the world, pulsates like a massive steam engine in a rare, but remarkably memorable eruption, reaching heights of 300 to 400 feet. Cone geysers, such as Riverside, erupt in a narrow jet of water, usually from a cone. Fountain geysers, such as Great Fountain, in the Lower Geyser Basin, shoot water in various directions, typically from a pool.
And, I learned some of them are somewhat predictable…but the +/- variables can lead to some wait times – at least they provide benches in places 🙂
I’ve read that when John Colter, a scout for Lewis and Clark, first wandered in these parts in 1807, his descriptions of these thermal features were met with skepticism and suspicions. I am not surprised by that – they really are “unbelievable”
Well, we know they do exist – and, it’s one of the main reasons the Park was established – but you really need to see them for yourselves – my images won’t do justice to the experience –
My first outing was to the Norris Geyser Basin area – one of the hottest of Yellowstone’s thermal areas – home to numerous hot springs and fumaroles as well as Steamboat – the largest geyser in the world. It actually sits on 3 major faults and is part of an active volcano. Wow!
The colors were amazing – caused by “thermophiles” – heat loving micro organisms
The Norris area undergoes changes every year – new hot springs and geysers appear; others become dormant. This area is also less predictable – but I was there, on that bench, when Constant Geyser went up – my first geyser 🙂
I really enjoyed my day in the Norris area.
Got me excited about the Old Faithful area I would explore on a sunny day – the hot springs and pools that have names like Morning Glory, Grand Prismatic, Abyss, Emerald, and Sapphire, glisten like jewels in a host of colors in the bright sun – something I didn’t have during my visit to Norris.
So, I’ll be checking the weather as well as the predicted times for the geysers around Old Faithful for my next outing to the thermals…wish me luck…
Take care…See you down the road…