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Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone (Lake)

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Fountain Paint Pot trail near Old Faithful

There are a number of places in Yellowstone National Park where you can see mud pots. They aren’t as spectacular as the geysers, but they are definitely interesting. The burble and heat given off by the mud pots is accompanied by a strong smell of sulfur, much like eggs. One of the best places to see mudpots as well as geysers and other thermal features is at the Fountain Paint Pot trail. It’s near Old Faithful and it’s an easy half mile walk/hike. The ground literally rumbles and bubbles around you. But don’t worry, all of the trails and pathways are built up and away from any danger.

The landscape is very surreal; it’s like you’re in another world as you combine the heat from the ground, the sounds from the earth and the strong smell of sulfur that is ever present. Very cool and very interesting. Don’t just see Old Faithful when you come to Yellowstone, see other things as well (see my other tips!) and try to figuratively get off the beaten track. If you literally go off the track, you stand the chance of being yelled at by rangers and, more importantly, injured due to the volatilty of some of the thermal features! [more ]

Old Faithful

I find it incredible that there are places in the world where you can see the power of the earth at work right in front of you. One of the most stunning examples of the power of Mother Nature is Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

There is a large semi-circle walkway with a scattering of benches surrounding the geyser. It is one of the parks largest geysers that erupts with the most regularity. There are other geysers that erupt more regularly, but they are smaller. There are other geysers that are larger, but erupt much less frequently or erratically. It erupts approximately every 75 minutes or so, but it isn't an exact science. Eruptions can last up to 5 minutes!

Right before an eruption (or before a predicted eruption time) the walkway will start to fill up. Arrive about half an hour before the predicted time (earlier if you're going in summer) to get a good view. The park buildings and the rangers in the area will know the predicted times each day. Don't be afraid to ask, that's why they're there!

It's surreal to see the steam billowing constantly from what seems like an innocuous mound of dirt. Then, with a roar, the earth erupts. It is a stunning sight and one not to miss.

While there will be crowds of tourists around the Old Faithful area, it is still an incredible sight, and it's always good to know that there's something in the world that you can count on! [more ]

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The vigorous waterfalls and the soaring vibrant canyon walls are on my list of most beautiful scenic views. I recommend not leaving your camera at home…it’s absolutely breathtaking.

The roads and trails around the canyon offer many vantage points to see the canyon and waterfalls. One of the best views is from the Brink of the Upper Falls overlook. Like the other trails, it’s easy to walk and get to.

You can also follow the South Rim on a trail to see the Lower Falls. Again, the trail is relatively easy and you get beautiful views along the way. The trail ends at the Artist Point, and has an absolutely spectacular view.

What’s great about hiking on these trails is they are virtually empty while the over look is packed from people who are just driving by. [more ]

Mammoth Hot Springs

This area is filled with dozens of flowing terraces. These terraces are made of travertine or calcium carbonate. This is brought to the surface by hot water from beds of limestone. The orange, pink, yellow, and green shades come from microorganisms and living bacteria. The springs are a beautiful. These terraces are divided by the park into the Lower Terraces and the Upper Terraces. Both have beautiful springs. The Upper Terrace has a platform with a stunning view of the entire Mammoth Springs area. I think this area is beautiful place to visit, minus the smell. [more ]

Fountain pots...or potted fountains?

The Fountain Paint Pots Trail, located in the Lower Geyser Basin, is an easy 1/2 mile trail that passes good examples of most of the types of thermal features found in Yellowstone including some geysers that are almost always in eruption. The mud is composed of clay minerals and fine particles of silica and are just one of many in the area. The fall is the best time to see them, as mud is the thickest, but it’s a notable area within the Lower Geyser Basin. [more ]

The Upper Basin

The Old Faithful area, also known as the Upper Geyser Basin, is probably the best geyser basin in Yellow Stone Park. You can definitely walk from Geyser Hill to Morning Glory Pool. It is about one and half miles one-way. Along the walk you see a lot of geysers (few are small and constantly bubbling, while others are predicted and eruption times are stated on signs). You will also see very colorful pools along this route, the nicest pool being Morning Glory Pool. I recommend setting a couple of hours aside for enough time to see everything in the area. You will need it, otherwise you will be disappointed. If you’re short on time…check out Old Faithful, jump back in the car and drive to the Lower Geyers Basin. You’ll get good examples of most of the types of thermal features including geysers that predictably erupt. You’ll get more out of a short tour at the Fountain Paint Pots than the Upper Geyser Basin. [more ]

Springing to Morning

This pool gets is name for the color…bright blue center with a yellow outer edge. Between the shape and color, it resembles a Morning Glory flower…hence the name. This is a very deep pool, but has crystal clear water. Steam pours from the center of the pool. There’s any easy trail from Old Faithful in the Upper Geyser Basin. It’s maybe about a mile long, and again, easy to walk. There have been a few occasions where this pool has erupted as a geyser, but they are far and few between. Expect to admire it for its beauty and uniqueness. [more ]

Ollllld Faithful

Upper Geyser Basin boasts being home to the most geysers in the world, including many of the world’s largest geysers. Old Faithful erupts more times and more consistently than any other geyser in the area. It is also here that you can get a list of prediction times for all the predicted geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin. For this reason make sure you make Old Faithful your first stop in this area. It erupts about every hour and half, and the eruptions last about 2 – 5 minutes…they don’t call it Old Faithful for nothing. It really is a sight to be seen. [more ]

Springs in the Basin

Upper Geyser Basin is the world’s largest single concentration of hot springs. Particularly, the Grand Prismatic Spring is Yellowstone’s largest (and the world’s third largest) hot spring. This pool is huge and brilliantly colorful…when the sun is shinning brightly, the steam from the springs creates a rainbow above. It really is a stunning “all natural” site to see. [more ]

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