Friday, September 15, 2017

Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic - Yellowstone Icons

After our twelve-hour touring day on Yellowstone's northern loop yesterday, we vowed to pace ourselves. There is definitely too much to see in this awesome national park to rush through it. So we took a more leisurely pace to explore some of the icons on the southern loop. Our campground just outside the town of West Yellowstone is a great location to start, and we began our day on the Firehole Canyon Drive. That took us down a one-way road beside Firehole River and Falls.

With a name like Firehole, one would think the river water would be warm. But when we stopped at the swimming hole, there was only one brave swimmer in the water. He said the water was anything but warm.

Firehole Canyon is a beautiful place to start the day.

Along this stretch of the national park road are some of the most stunning water features. There are several stops filled with one amazing steaming water spring . . .

after another . . .

after another. Many of them have the teal blue centers, ringed by bright orange. We now know that the bright colors come from the heat-loving organisms that are enjoying the very warm temperatures of these unusual geothermal pools.

The colors caused from those thermophiles make an amazingly bright orange and yellow path cascading from the springs.

When you add a few geysers that are randomly spewing high columns of hot water into the air, that should be the most amazing sights of the day.

But we haven't gotten to the most famous of Yellowstone's sights. One of those is the Grand Prismatic Spring. We have to say that we were a little underwhelmed when walking beside this famous spring. From this boardwalk level we just can't see the layers of color that make it a show-stopper. So we are heading up the hill to get a different view.

There is always work being done on the trails inside Yellowstone. That work has paid off in the form of a brand new trail opened up this season that allows more people to hike to a better view of this spring. Even though it's not yet listed on the official hiking sheet, the parking lot was full for the one-mile walk up to the overlook.

From this elevation, the many colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring are easy to see. We have definitely wandered into God's wonders today! We could see just how big this pool of hot water is when we realize those little dots on the boardwalk are people.

The water in about 160 degrees, so steam cloaks its surface. We were told to not visit here too early on chilly mornings, because the colors are completely hidden by steam when it's cold outside. But this was a beautiful day to be in Yellowstone! After days of smoky skies, we were blessed with blue skies and puffy white clouds.

This is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone, measuring 200 feet across. As big as this spring is, we took this picture to show its even bigger surroundings.

From one Yellowstone icon to another, it's a short drive down the road to Old Faithful Village. We arrived as a large crowd was gathering around this unassuming field with a small upraised cone in the center.

We just found a good place to sit among the hundreds of other tourists, when Old Faithful put on her show--right on schedule. We found out that this geyser's schedule can be determined based on the length and strength of the previous eruption. The rangers can predict the next geyser within ten minutes, as the eruptions range from 60 to 90 minutes apart.

There are other geysers on a schedule. For example, the Riverside Geyser erupts every 5-7 hours. But it's not as faithful, so the predicted time is +/-  a couple hours. It started going off shortly after Old Faithful, so we did a power walk pace to get there.

The Riverside Geyser is literally right on the side of the River. It's a good thing that the eruptions usually last around 22 minutes, or we would have missed it completely.

Other geysers aren't reliable at all. This is Giant Geyser. Even though we see a little water spewing at the base, there hasn't been an eruption here since July 7, 2017. The one before that was in 2015.

This unusual formation is named the Grotto Geyser, and it is one of the weirdest among some very weird things in Yellowstone National Park. Again, it's not a faithful geyser. But when it does get started, it might erupt for as long as 24 hours.

We were making a three-mile walk on yet another boardwalk in the most famous Old Faithful area of the park.

Each spring and steam vent has its own personality and shape. Welcome to the pork chop spring.

We were enjoying our walk through these amazing springs, and we were doubly blessed with beautiful weather. After so many days of smoky skies we are loving the blue skies and puffy clouds reflected in the biggest springs.

After enjoying the three mile walk, we made it back to the Old Faithful Basin just in time to see the 5:36 eruption--right on time.

Because we love the old historic lodges built in the early 1900's, we also walked to the Old Faithful Lodge.

The inside of the lodge looks like something made of lincoln logs. Mark is on the seond floor, while Denisa is taking the picture from the lobby. We really wanted to walk up to the crow's nest above the fourth floor. But all these logs did some shifting in the famous earthquake in 1959, and the steps are no longer safe.

It took many curved branches to support each floor around the atrium. This is one of our favorite lodges ever! We also saw that an outdoor deck of the Old Faithful Lodge is a great place to watch Old Faithful erupt.

We walked around the sizable Old Faithful Village--a small town itself. We were pleasantly surprised with the prices at the cafeteria, and had bison shepherd pie for dinner. With the walking we did at each of these iconic stops, we logged in over ten miles today. We finish today's post with another iconic picture. Denisa thinks that perhaps there was a slight misspelling of the sign that describes Mark--an "Old Faithful Geezer."

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