Waterfalls, Volcanoes, and Geysers

ToadDate 0264.06.19.17-MT

We have arrived and set up camp at Ashton, ID, which is about 60 miles southwest of the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We took a trip up to Mesa Falls (Upper and Lower) about 20 miles from the campground. While driving we passed several places where fly fishermen were trying their hand to land a big one. The falls are over 100 feet tall and beautiful. The view from our campground is the Grand Tetons. Truly amazing.

Today we went to Yellowstone and drove the tour to take us to many of the geysers. First thing we saw was a herd of elk with their fawns. They caused a large traffic jam but they didn’t seem to mind the attention since they were on one side of the river and the humans on the other.

We drove to see Old Faithful. It was well worth the drive. It is surprising to me how many people are visiting in the park. At Old Faithful, there are viewing benches set up and people start claiming their spots at least 30 minutes before the eruption expected time. A good thing about Old Faithful is it erupts about every 90 minutes. We arrived as it was going off. After looking at a few things in the area, we grabbed a seat and watched it go off again. There are many geysers surrounding the area of Old Faithful, all connected by a boardwalk or trail. We spent over an hour looking at the other geysers, some of them were erupting, and as were walking back toward the visitor center it erupted for a third time.

Around Old Faithful are several trails and boardwalks that meander around this geyser basin. Old Faithful (90 to 184 feet) is not the largest geyser in the park, that honor belongs to the Steamboat geyser, which is in the Norris Geyser Basin,  throws water more than 300 feet into the air (with major eruptions). The water gushing from the Castle geyser, near Old Faithful, goes up about 90 feet high and was very impressive.

There are numerous geysers, some only bubble up very hot water, while other send up fountains of hot water. There are a few geysers whose eruptions can be predicted. Other geysers may erupt 3 times daily, once a day, or completely unpredictable. Old Faithful is a large geyser which dependable (plus or minus 10 or so minutes), that’s the reason that it is the major draw for the park.

Throughout the area you see steam rising among tall dead trees. The geysers kill off the vegetation, so when you see white barren land, there is probably a geyser or hot water spring in that area.  Unique microorganisms live in and around the geysers (most of the over 2000, have not been scientifically classified). Where you see yellow, orange, blue, green, and brown in the water, that color is caused by the microorganisms that live off the minerals in the steam or water. They create a beautiful array of colors around these boiling and steaming vents.

Most of Yellowstone Park is set in a caldera, the collapsed cone of a volcano. Geologist say that someday, no idea when, Yellowstone will explode as a super volcano and cover much of the U.S. in ash. The resulting earthquakes will reshape our world. The last eruption was about 600,000 years ago and the one before it was 1.2 million years ago. If the geologists are correct, we are overdue.

Even with the threat of a super volcano erupting, you should consider visiting this beautiful area. While we were walking on the trails (we covered about 8 miles of trails today) you could hear many different languages and accents. People from all over the U.S. and the world come to see Yellowstone. We can recommend it but suggest that you wear very comfortable shoes.


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