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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.

Yellowstone contains approximately one-half of the world’s hydrothermal features. There are over 10,000 hydrothermal features, including over 300 geysers, in the park.

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…

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ken Johnson #

    One place I never got was the viewpoint for Grand Prismatic Spring. I did a little checking to find info on the trail I had heard about:

    Grand Prismatic Spring “Overlook”. I hope to get here next time:

    The photo [scroll down in the link above] is a view of Grand Prismatic Spring at the Midway Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park from an “overlook” on the trail to Fairy Falls. The trailhead is on the highway just south of Midway Geyser Basin. The “overlook” is not marked and there is no construction there, but as you walk towards Fairy Falls, less than a mile along the trail you’ll see worn paths to your left that work their way up a steep hill covered in trees. This is where the overlook is located. It’s quite hard to find, but if you do find it, you’ll be thrilled with the view!

    A nicer photo here:

    Good discussion of the trail.

    After seeing those photos, you looked pretty darn good to me in the training, but I sure feel better that you didn’t try the Grand Teton summit.


    August 23, 2012
    • Stephen #

      thanks for the info – way behind updating posts – spent a couple more days photographing Yellowstone – the geyser areas and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – both amazing places. found the fairy trail secret from a couple of the locals – not hard to find as such but very difficult steep climb over eroding hillside and deadfall – but well worth it.. will post over the next couple of days

      as for the grand climb – have to agree with you – the “easy climbing” Andy and Tan spoke of looked extremely difficult – like I blogged — “a man has to know his limitations” 🙂 happy I didn’t make an attempt that would have turned into a long and difficult day

      August 29, 2012

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