It’s more expensive to stay inside the park but it was great to be so close to Old Faithful. Not just because it meant not having to drive at the beginning of the day but also it meant we could marvel at Old Faithful and the surrounding area at varying times of the day.
Totally unperturbed by the traffic and people, clearly the buffalo though so too!
Old Faithful Geyser in the Upper Basin
Old Faithful is named because it is the most reliable of Yellowstone’s geysers. It faithfully erupts about every 9o minutes, each eruption lasting between 1.5 to 5 minutes. The historical range of its recorded height is between 100-180 feet. The geyser itself was smaller than we’d been expecting and in truth didn’t look as spectacular as we’d thought it would.
We waited with quite a few others, who, like us, had read the well posted signs or downloaded the Yellowstone ‘App’ that tells you when the next eruption is due.
The predictions were unbelievably accurate and our slight initial disappointment was quickly dissipated. Old Faithful is thrillingly impressive!
And when we went back at dusk it was even more mesmerizing.
The Upper Basin by Old Faithful
The Upper Basin where Old Faithful is situated lies close to the Firehole River. Like most of the accessible thermal areas at Yellowstone there are wooden boardwalk trails to follow allowing you to safely view everything just a few inches above the steaming ground. The entire basin is a bubbling, gurgling pagaent.
We were rapidly just as enthralled as we had been the previous day.
Spellbound by nature.
There are more than 10,000 thermal pools scattered across the park but the crested pool is one of the hottest, its temperature often exceeding 199 Degrees Fahrenheit~93 Degrees Centigrade.
Anemone thermal pool at Upper Basin
The anemone pool really did look like a it’s name sake, subtly changing its shape as it writhed in the mud.
So named for its resemblance to Belgium.
Beehive Geyser at Upper Basin
Beehive geyser is named for its 4 foot high cone’s resemblance to a beehive. Although more modest looking than some of its neighbors, the Beehive is actually one of Yellowstone’s most powerful geysers. It’s cone shape acts a nozzle allowing it to shoot up to impressive heights of over 200 feet.
There are other thermal basins minutes away in the car, Black Sand Basin, Biscuit Basin and Midway Geyser Basin but we decided to leave those for our final morning and spend this day exploring as much of the lower loop as we had time for.
Retracing our steps back to Madison we climbed up through the pine forests towards West Thumb crossing the Continental Divide twice!
West Thumb thermal area by Lake Yellowstone
We came to the frozen shores of Lake Yellowstone before we reached West Thumb. The steaming lakeshore and water around West Thumb fills a volcanic crater created about 174,000 years ago. Small, compared to the Yellowstone caldera, nonetheless it is as large as Oregon’s well known Lake Caldera. West Thumb was yet another riveting spot.
West Thumb itself was caused by an explosion 125,000 years ago but remains thermally active. It is a percolating marvel of hot springs, mud-pots and steaming geysers.
Some just chuckle, others steam and hiss furious little clouds of sulphur infused steam.
The Sulphur Cauldron
This was our next roadside stop. Situated on the edge of Yellowstone’s buried volcano, the Sulphur Caldron is ten times more acidic than lemon juice. Unbelievably it is teeming with life, billions of Thermoacidophiles (micro-organisms which thrive in a hot, acidic environment) thrive here, converting the pool’s hydrogen sulfide gas into sulfuric acid. This in turn breaks down the soil and rock creating a bubbling mud pool.
Unbelievably, magma from the Yellowstone Caldera is still moving below the ground, pushing the ground upwards into the hills visible in the distance.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Without sounding trite, just when you think you couldn’t be any further impressed you are! The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, like it’s name sake, The Grand Canyon, is virtually invisible until your toes are on its edge. The impact is just as dramatic. The show capped edges of pine trees tumbling down the golden, red rocks, dropping 422 feet between the cascading waters of the Yellowstone River is literally spell binding.
We were viewing The Grand Canyon from the North Rim.
and when the camera lens caught the vista from the reverse direction it was just a captivating.
Brink of the Lower Falls
It is possible to hike to a viewing point at the place where the river crashes hundred of feet into the canyon. In this photo, it is just about visible on the right of the top of the falls. Sadly we didn’t have time to do that.
The drama where the river cascaded over the rocks far below was dazzling too
Standing above the canyon we thought it was probably the most entrancing of all Yellowstone vistas, well almost……
Returning back to the lodge we stopped by the snow kissed lakeshore one more time. Looking at the ice across the water was striking.
And then of course seeing Old Faithful erupt at dusk well….
I hope a picture speaks a thousand words.
The golden streaks across the evening sky made the Upper Basin even more mystical.
Could Yellowstone stun us any further? I think you can imagine my answer. See you next time!