Nov 17, 2015

Yellowstone // geysers, hot springs, and bison

Back in July, our family and my then-fiance (now husband) Greg went on a road trip to Yellowstone National Park. Our first evening was restful and beautiful exploring the Mammoth Hot Springs (see last week's post). The following day, after a hearty breakfast, we headed out to explore the geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin (see map). 

When most people think of Yellowstone geysers, the first one that comes to mind is Old Faithful, but little did we know, there are hundreds of other geysers throughout Yellowstone. Because of the national park's location above an ancient caldera (the exploded crater of a volcano), heated ground water and thermal features are created (geysers, hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles) [source]. 

Let's get back to Old Faithful, the most famous geyser at Yellowstone. Geysers are hot springs that erupt periodically due to trapped boiling water in underground channels. Some geysers are predictable, while others are free spirits that erupt whenever they so choose. Contrary to what would be predicted by it's name, Old Faithful is not the most predictable nor the biggest geyser at Yellowstone. But it is the biggest regular geyser, erupting every 35-120 minutes, lasting up to five minutes, and shooting up between 90 to 184 feet high (source)

We waited … and waited … and waited for Old Faithful ...

And about forty-five minutes later, Old Faithful did it's thing and erupted, lasting long enough to snap a few photos. After waiting so long, though, the verdict was unanimous with a repetitive "Wait… That was it?! That's what we waited for??" from a few siblings. It's worth it if you're in Yellowstone, but once is enough in a lifetime, especially since there are so many other geysers to see in the park.
We then walked to a trailhead to do hike on the boardwalks that lead us beside many of the geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles of the Upper Geyser Basin. The bottom right photo is a hot spring. Similar to geysers, but their underground channels are larger, so water does not get trapped and erupt, but rather pools and turns different colors due to microorganisms. The bottom left photo is a fumarole, which are like hot springs but do not have enough underground water to form a pool. Instead, they act as a vent to release steam of boiling water underground [source].
More geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles below. 



We also enjoyed the scenery around us during the trail, that seemed to change dramatically every half mile or so.
My nephew was a trooper during the nearly three mile hike. For some reason, he loved this rock (or maybe was just sick of walking and wasn't ready to leave his little pitstop. But he quickly learned the anecdote to his weary little feet: hopping onto his uncle's shoulders for a better view :)
My dad became the candid selfie king of the trip :)
We saw these thermal features as well, but I am not sure what they are. Possibly fumaroles but they look different and almost like something out of a Dr. Suess book.

 We then drove a few miles to the smaller Midway Geyser Basin to check out the two largest thermal features of Yellowstone: the Excelsior Geyser (pours over 4,000 gallons of super-hot water per minute into the Firehole River) and the Grand Prismatic Spring (the largest hot spring in Yellowstone at 370 feet width and 120 feet depth) [source]. 
 We then headed towards Lamar Valley, but we took a quick pitstop at a rest area on the way and admired the beautiful view around us. Yellowstone is absolutely breathtaking!
We eventually made it to Lamar Valley and stopped to admire the roaming buffalo (or bison? I think they're synonymous). We even thought we spotted a wolf far off at one point. Lamar Valley is arguably the best spot in Yellowstone to spy on animals. Bison/buffalo, elk, bears, bighorn sheep, coyote, and wolves all can be found roaming in the valley, especially at dawn and dusk. It's quite far from other attractions (in the northeast corner of the park), but it is definitely work the drive if you intend to do some wildlife watching. Be sure to bring your binoculars!

The fun's not over! We went chasing waterfalls the following day, so stay tuned for next week's continuing post on Yellowstone!

(I am linking up with Travel Tuesday at Compass Rose)

11 comments:

  1. Your photos are stunning! I will feel on cloud 9 by driving from one amazing place to another. How many days you stayed in the park?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ruth! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the driving was long, but so beautiful so it didn't bother me at all! We stayed 5 days and I thought that was a perfect amount of time. You can easily spend over a week there, and another national park, The Grand Tetons is close by and I heard it's great too if you have a longer vacation, but we were only able to go for 5 days.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for sharing these photos. Coming from Montana I've never visited Yellowstone nor Glacier so it's nice to see others enjoying our state (or the top half/ bottom half of MT and WY). And bison are North America, buffalo are not but they are similar and hail from the same family line. Other side note, if you ever get the opportunity to try bison, yum, super awesome taste and extremely lean .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi B! Thanks for stopping by! I enjoy your sweet comments! I loved the scenery of Yellowstone and definitely want to return one day! And thank you! I wasn't sure if bison and buffalo were interchangeable! We had bison burgers in Gardiner, MT and they were good!

      Delete
  3. That is such a great family trip! It looks like a great experience! And absolutely beautiful photos!!x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Camila!! We loved it! It was awesome to connect with family knowing I'd soon move 2,000 miles away from them, plus it was awesome to have Greg with the family because they were able to get to know him more!

      Delete
  4. Unfortunately during my recent cross country trip, I didn't make it to Yellowstone! I'ts been on my list for a while, but I guess I was okay skipping it since I know I'll go one day! Looks too cool to miss. We went to a lot of other parks, but didn't have too much luck with the wildlife watching. Seems like Yellowstone might have been the spot for that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Lauren! Yellowstone is an awesome place for wildlife-watching!! I'm gonna hop over to your blog and look for pictures/info on your recent cross-country trip… We are trying to think about what national park to visit next!

      Delete
  5. Gorgeous! What treasured memories with your family!

    I'm a newlywed too! My husband and I would love to go out West sometime, including Yellowstone!

    Thanks for linking up with Tuesday Talk!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congrats on getting married, Laura! It is wonderful, right?!! Yes, Yellowstone is such an awesome place. You won't regret it! And if you are in the West, then head over to Oregon and/or Washington for more beauty as well!!

      Delete
  6. Wow! What an awesome family trip! My family went to Yellowstone probably 12 years ago, and I still remember the smell of the hot springs and the geysers, ha!

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear your thoughts!

Elle Alice