Thermal Geysers of Yellowstone

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Decided to do a day trip out to Yellowstone since there isnt any real public transport in the area. Given the number of people who visit the park I would have expected some sort of shuttle system, even though the park is so big. At the least you could have buses doing the top loop and other buses doing the bottom loop.

As always, lots of driving and a tour that felt rushed. While I saw a number of different parts of the park it never seemed long enough in one spot for more than a cursory glance. In addition it was aimed at older people since the guide went on about how 1/2 a mile might be to hard a walk for some people and they could stay in the bus if they wanted too. Still! Better than nothing.

Started the day with a 20 minute walk from the campsite to the main road from which I was getting picked up. Tour guide had some interesting facts but he never seemed to stop talking. At least not until the last 2hrs of the 11 hour tour.

Kept talking about the fire that burned through Yellowstone in the late 80s and the outrage people felt, even though the reason for the large fire was the interference of man over previous years in not letting natural fire take there natural coarse. As a result lots of dead wood that should of been burnt off in smaller fire ended up getting burned in one large fire. Could see where the regrowth has started. Given the area is semi arid, it seems to take quite a while for the trees to grow.

First stop of the tour was old faithful. Was lucky enough to have some bison hanging around near the geysers so got a few nice, close up photos of the bison. also got to watched them ramble around and roll around in the dirt.

Found out that Old Faithful is the most popular geyser because it is relatively high spout of water (though not highest) and its eruptions can be predicted with some accuracy. That is, given you know the time and duration of the last eruption, you can predict the time of the next one plus/minus 20min. With some of the others it can be plus/minus 4hrs with eruptions that only occur once or twice a day. Eruptions by Old faithful occur every 60-90 minutues and last a few minutes.

Thankfully missed an erruption between 20 minutes so had a bit of time to explore some of the other geysers before old faithfuls eruption. Not sure I would have anywhere near as much time if the eruption had occurred earlier since we left immediatley after the erupton. Ended up having time to do a quick circuit of the geysers on the geyser hill loop walk where there were both pools of hot water, spluttering geysers and quite geysers. Lots of interesting and different types of hot spring features and could easily spend the day wandering around and investigating the area. Ended up making it back to old faitful for the erruption though I had pick a not so good spot since the steam from the water obscured my view of the erupting water a bit.

Next headed straight back to the bus for the next stop. This was Prismatic Pool. This is basically a large pool that had a bright blue center surrounded by a ring of yellow. Was interesting to see how the steam above the water was not just white. While there saw it range from blue to red depending on how far from the pool it was. Unfortunately only had time to walk around the board walks near the pools and not climb up the nearby hill which would of let me view the pool from above.

Bit more driving down the road got the bus to the Paint Pots. This spot basically has all four types of hot spring features that can appear in the area. That is a pool of hot water, a pool of bubbling mud, a steam vent and a geyser that regular shots water into the air. Learnt a main cause of the difference somes down to the amount of water present and the size of the hole through which the heated water can force its way through.

Looking at the map found a lot of park attractions that are accessable from the road with a walk of less than a couple of miles. Once again thought a shuttle bus system would be nice.

Painted pots were followed by a long drive to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone area. First part of the canyon to be visited were the Upper Yellowstone river falls. Went to the lookout and actually would of like to have followed the path down the canyon but not humanly possible to do in 20min. In the end decided to wander up the river a bit. A few people had seen me running (trying to cover lots of ground) and the guide had expected me back earlier so when I was a couple of minutes late he said that he was just about to go look for me. Once again, old person tour mentality.

Driver had planned to head to artist point in order to give us one of the famous views of the Yellowstone falls but road work had closed the road. I think that was good since we ended up heading to Lookout scenic point which gave a nice view of the falls and canyon. In addition, I also managed to walk up to the Grand View scenic point in the time he had given before every one had to meet back at the bus. Of coarse I was the last one back since I had tried to once again fit more in than the tour guide was offering. Anyways definsately worth heading to the Grand View scenic point since it gave a nice view down into the canyon and of the river further down river from the falls.

That was basically the end of the tour. Drove through the Hayden plains where there were a number of Bison herds and then a brief stop at the Yellowstone Lake lodge. Would have liked to have stopped at the Mud Volcano which we went past, I guess it was to late in the day and the tour only lasted 11 hrs with a lot of time chewed up driving. Ended up back at the camground around 6:00pm for a tour that started (for me) at 8:30am.

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