So, when you think of Yellowstone National Park, what do you think of? My mind immediately goes to wildlife. And, we saw some incredible wildlife in Yellowstone (more on that next time). But, you know what just might have been even more interesting? The geothermal features.
Seriously, some of them didn’t even look real. Check out these colors.
Apparently, Yellowstone contains more than 10,000 geysers, hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles, and the like. The real problem is I can’t tell them apart.
Well, with the exception of geysers. Hard to mistake a geyser. Although I read that some geysers that don’t erupt eventually turn into hot springs, so maybe I can’t tell them apart. Anyway . . . geysers are the cool things that shoot water and steam up into the air. Some 400+ geysers erupt in Yellowstone every year. Some of them are predictable; some are not. Most everyone who visits Yellowstone comes to see Old Faithful.
And, Old Faithful isn’t bad, not by a long shot. It is predictable and it goes pretty high. But, sometimes the smaller geysers are just as cool. And, far less crowded.
Some of them even form cones.
Hot springs are apparently the most common geothermal feature in Yellowstone. Wiki tells me that a convection process where hot water rises and cool water sinks results in a pool that never gets hot enough to erupt. That said, the hot springs are definitely hot enough to burn a human. And, it seems like every year some idiot goes off the marked paths and gets burned. In fact, we saw multiple people step off the path to retrieve hats blown off by the wind. Some of the hot springs can be the most beautiful blue color.
Or greens and yellows.
It all depends on which bacteria live in the spring. And, believe it or not, hot springs can be very muddy.
Mud pots form where steam and acid eat away at the surrounding rocks. You wind up with a hole full of mud. Sometimes the “mud” bubbles. Just to further confuse the issue, geysers that stop erupting can apparently become mud pots.
Fumaroles are holes or cracks in the ground that emit steam. Wiki tells me that they are the hottest places in Yellowstone. They often stink like rotten eggs. Lots and lots of Yellowstone stinks like rotten eggs . . . .
Just amazing, isn’t it?