The Great American Road Trip — The Geothermal Features of Yellowstone

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.

Midway Geyser Basin area. I’m pretty sure this is the edge of Grand Prismatic Spring, most of which was shrouded in a dense steam due to the cold weather and the hot water.

And these.

Emerald Pool at Black Sands Basin.

And this.

A lovely blue at the Sapphire Pool in the Biscuit Basin area.

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.

Old Faithful erupting.

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.

A small geyser somewhere in the Old Faithful area. I’m pretty sure this is Sawmill Geyser. If so, it stopped erupting in 2017 and just started again in 2021.

Some of them even form cones.

A cone geyser in the Old Faithful area. I’m pretty sure this is Castle geyser. It wasn’t actually erupting as we walked by — just giving off a little bit of nervous energy.

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.

Pretty colors at Norris Geyser Basin

Or greens and yellows.

Pretty colors at Biscuit Basin.

It all depends on which bacteria live in the spring. And, believe it or not, hot springs can be very muddy.

A hot spring in the Mud Volcano area.

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.

Can you see the big mud droplet up in the air at this mud pot at Artist’s Paint Pots? Hint…look for the shadow.

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 . . . .

Steam on a cold morning at Fountain Paint Pots.

Just amazing, isn’t it?

About theschneiduks

Lisa has a degree in biology and another in law and has spent the last 20 years working as a patent litigator. She is a voracious reader of young adult dystopian fiction and watches far too much bad tv. She loves pretty much anything to do with zombies, and doesn’t think there is anything weird about setting an alarm at 6 am on a weekend to stumble to a pub to watch her beloved Chelsea boys. Robert has had many professions, including a chef, a salesman, an IT guy and most recently, a stay at home dog dad. He speaks Italian and hopes to learn Spanish on this trip. He loves nothing more than a day spent sailing, hopes to do more scuba diving, and rues the day he introduced Lisa to football (i.e., soccer).
This entry was posted in Montana, United States, Wyoming and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Great American Road Trip — The Geothermal Features of Yellowstone

  1. Gorgeous photos 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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