Posts tagged: West Thumb Geyser Basin

Hot and Cold

By , June 3, 2010 10:22 pm

Our third outing in Yellowstone was a cold and dreary morning.  We might have also made an unwise choice in where to go and when.  It wasn’t snowing or raining regularly, but there were flurries and it was far colder than any other morning so far.

IMG_1107We headed to Yellowstone Falls and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, which is on the east side of the park.  We stopped at a point near the falls and planned to do a little hiking to get to a couple of viewpoints.  Due to the recent rain/snow, the ground was absolute mush.  My boots were caked with clay and mud within minutes.  But, we did get some decent views of the falls and the canyon.  I’ve included both a zoomed in shot and a zoomed out one so you can get an idea of just how big the canyon is. 

Even though the views were worth it and we’re glad we decided to come, we were getting pretty miserable and we were less than halfway to the point we were trying to get to.  Luckily, I brought along a GPS (no cell service) and did some occasional checks as we went.  It looked a lot like there was a road that eventually ran out to the point we were trying to get to. IMG_1106 I mentioned it and almost immediately got a “Great idea, let’s go!”.  I guess I wasn’t the only one who was cold. 😉

We hiked back to the Jeep and drove right up to the point we were about to hike to.  I guess I should have checked a couple more maps before heading out. ;)  We were rewarded with another great view, but the distance was quite a bit further to the falls.  We did get a much better view of the canyon from there, but it was still cold. We decided we needed some heat!

So, we went to the Dragon’s Mouth!

IMG_1146The Dragon’s Mouth is so named due to the steam that constantly bellows forth and the roaring that accompanies it.  The water at the entrance is constantly churning and bursting out.  If not for the steam and muddy color of the water, it would be very much like a sea cave with waves crashing in it.  It’s rather strange.

IMG_1157There are a whole lot of active features at the same location, including bubbling mud pots, boiling pools and a mud volcano.  We weren’t up to exploring too much, but we did the normal picture taking and eyeballing.  If we did want to explore some more, we would have been out of luck due to the sign.  The sign was an “Area closed – there be bear abouts”.  We have decided it was all a publicity stunt and there aren’t actually any bear.  We ran into bear closure areas all over the place but didn’t see a single one the entire time.  There was one area with a ton of traffic where people said there was a bear, but we didn’t really believe that would be our only chance to see one, so we didn’t stop.  Oops.  We even went looking for bear, but that’s a story for another post later.

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By the way…  I’m not sure how long this area (Dragon’s Mouth) will be open.  It’s pretty active and the parking lot is now starting to get eaten.  There are several holes in the asphalt with hot sulfuric steam coming out.  At some point the park service will have to re-arrange that parking lot.  From my perspective, it was neat to see the change in only a couple years time.  The whole park really is an active area.  I guess it’s possible than any of the features could change radically at any time.

After the Dragon’s Mouth, we headed to Yellowstone Lake.  To our surprise, it was still covered in ice!

IMG_1164It’s probably thawed out by now, but it was neat to see it at least partially in it’s winter attire. 

After that, we went to the West Thumb Geyser Basin.  West Thumb is probably one of the most visited areas of Yellowstone, with good reason.  It has some really neat geysers, but it’s very restricted and can be quite crowded at times.  It’s best to visit this spot in the early morning or later in the evening if you don’t want to be squeezing past people on boardwalks.  It’s good if you can take some time and just wander here, as some of the pools are quite beautiful. The different water temperatures coming out of the ground (all of which are close to boiling) are home to many different algaes and other biologic stuff that I don’t remember the names of.  Different colored things grow in the different temperatures, some of which can show some incredible colors!

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It was also kind of cool to see the elk just hanging out amongst the features.  Some of them were getting a nice little steam bath.  They don’t have to adhere to park regulations about staying on boardwalks.  😉

Luckily it warmed up and the sun came out while we were at the West Thumb area.

That was pretty much a full day’s activity for us.  I think we were all getting fairly tired from the constant activity, as we’d pretty much been going non-stop since we arrived.  The remaining few days would change that.

Note: I’m still at a repair shop and can get power at night to pull pictures.  I’ll try to finish off the Yellowstone posts tonight or tomorrow (offline) and post them up when I can get a connection.  

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