Yellowstone’s Geyser Country Day 2 – Grand Prismatic Spring

Traffic jam Yellowstone style
Traffic jam Yellowstone style

On the last day of our week in Yellowstone, we headed back to Geyser Country. The two guys above (there’s a second bison just going out of sight behind the trees) held us up for a short while. Most people were back in their cars by the time John risked this snap – some of them had been standing way too close.

The best thing we saw in our whole week in Yellowstone came right at the end of the day, but there was plenty to do before that. Just south of Madison we turned off onto Firehole Canyon Drive, a short detour leading to some pretty falls.

A few miles further on we reached Lower Geyser Basin. On one side of the road is Firehole Lake Drive. The main attraction here is Great Fountain Geyser (second picture below) but it wasn’t due to erupt till the afternoon and we didn’t have time to hang about. Plenty other things to appreciate, though.

Across the road is the Fountain Paint Pot trail. The Pot is full of thick, bubbling mud.

Red Spouter, below, has existed since an earthquake in 1959 which altered much of this landscape. It’s unusual in that it behaves like all four thermal features at different times of year. In spring and early summer it’s a muddy hot spring that might seem like a geyser at times as it splashes water several feet high. By summer and autumn, as the water table lowers, it becomes first a mudpot then a fumarole venting steam, as here.

Below Red Spouter is an area with several geysers. This is Fountain Geyser.

The colours in the basin are beautiful. We’d seen many trees such as the ones below on our travels, but learnt something new about them from the trail guide here. They are lodgepole pine trees which drowned in the super-hot water of shifting thermal activity. Silica penetrated and hardened the bases of the trunks leaving a white appearance, so they are nicknamed “Bobby Socks” trees.

Finally, we arrived at Midway Geyser Basin.

There are two major features here. Excelsior Geyser Crater was formed when a huge geyser blew itself out of existence in the 1880s. The last eruption was a hundred years later in 1985, but it still discharges 4000 gallons of hot water per minute into the Firehole River. It may not look as spectacular, but it expels more in a day than Old Faithful does in two months.

And now for the pièce de résistance – Grand Prismatic Spring. At 370ft wide and 121ft deep, it’s Yellowstone’s largest, deepest hot spring and probably its most beautiful. I’ve never seen anything to rival it anyway. The water at 70C / 160F ensures it is usually cloaked in steam and the brilliant colours around it are caused by the microorganisms which live there.

Could we top that? Not really. We made a quick stop at Gibbon Falls which we’d passed several times already without viewing, then it was back to Canyon Lodge for our last night.

We left Yellowstone the next morning with over a week of vacation still left. However, this seems like a good time to take a break and blog about something else for a while. I’ll come back to our US road trip after the New Year.

63 thoughts on “Yellowstone’s Geyser Country Day 2 – Grand Prismatic Spring

  1. Jessica (Diverting Journeys) December 14, 2016 / 20:14

    Red Spouter sounds really interesting. It’s neat that it changes from a geyser to a fumarole and back! And of course the Grand Prismatic Spring is beautiful!


    • Anabel Marsh December 14, 2016 / 21:04

      It truly is! I found it all so fascinating, that there could be such variety of colour and behaviour over quite a small area.


  2. dconnollyislandgmailcom December 14, 2016 / 15:18

    Up close viewing of bison (casually ambling alongside the bus) and Grand Prismatic Spring!! I have now added this trip to the top of my bucket list!


  3. restlessjo December 13, 2016 / 21:38

    I must be getting blase about geysers, Anabel, because I can’t get over the size of that bison! 🙂


  4. Ann Coleman December 13, 2016 / 19:47

    Thanks for sharing your Yellowstone journey with us!


    • Anabel Marsh December 13, 2016 / 20:07

      Thanks for reading (and, re discussion on your page, for commenting!)


    • Anabel Marsh December 13, 2016 / 20:08

      Oh no, that wasn’t your page, that was seeing the positives, wasn’t it? Doh! I’m getting muddled, must be my poor retired brain 😉


  5. hilarymb December 13, 2016 / 09:30

    Hi Anabel – I hadn’t realised there were so many geysers and falls – but then I’d never really looked … just knew of Yellowstone and Old Faithful and yes a few others. Wonderful photos … life is amazing how it can adjust … cheers Hilary


    • Anabel Marsh December 13, 2016 / 10:12

      I hadn’t realised quite how many either until we went! Astonishing place.


  6. Kelly December 13, 2016 / 07:26

    You certainly saw some great sights and what an adventure.


  7. Blue Sky Scotland December 13, 2016 / 01:04

    Amazing photos and amazing place. I’ve read the parks in America have an increasing problem with tourists getting ever closer to large predators for that all important selfie without much concern for their own safety.


    • Anabel Marsh December 13, 2016 / 07:12

      Indeed – we kept well back but some people got recklessly close.


  8. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor December 12, 2016 / 20:30

    I love that picture of the Yellowstone traffic jam! Bison are so fascinating. We’ve been places where they’ve decided to hang out in the middle of the road and we’ve had to wait until they decided to move off along their way.


    • Anabel Marsh December 12, 2016 / 20:47

      Definitely best just to let them get on with it at their own pace!


  9. December 12, 2016 / 19:18

    What a magnificent park! I am amazed how unthinking some people can be around wildlife. I guess their only prior experience has been in a zoo so they think it’s OK to get close to (or, worse, encourage their children to get close to) a wild animal. I guess anything for a selfie!


    • Anabel Marsh December 12, 2016 / 20:13

      Aargh, combination of autocorrect and accidentally hitting send – have deleted last comment so if you get a partial notification that’s why. There was a video going round before we left of a woman taking a selfie with an elk behind her. It butted her in the – well, guess – and she went flying! So stupid.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Heyjude December 12, 2016 / 19:08

    A perfect place to stop for a while. I don’t think I’ll ever get to Yellowstone now, so I am enjoying sitting on your shoulder – hope I’m not too heavy!!


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