Geysers/hot springs, Yellowstone National Park
Grand Geyser is one of the larger geysers erupting once or twice a day. It is tied together with two nearby smaller geysers – Turban and Vent. It takes five hours after an eruption for Grand’s basin to refill for another blow. As you can see from the picture, there is a ways to go before the next show.
Also, nearby is one of the basin’s more famous colorful hot springs, Beauty Pool. It shows a deeper contrast of colors today than the more famous Morning Glory Pool which sadly has lost some of its luster due to people trashing it.
After you have watched Old Faithful blast, cross the Firehole River and wander on the trails circling around Geyser Hill. There are many features here to discover from little geysers to beautiful hot springs. One trail bends off just after you cross the river and takes you up higher for a bird’s eye view of Old Faithful and the basin.
Lower Geyser Basin is the first intriguing place to see if the park is approached from the west at the Montana/ Wyoming border. It represents a sprawling structure alongside the conveniently built road that warns the visitor from afar by steam columns shooting in the air. The area is teeming with all sorts of springs, mud bubbles and geysers to the amusement of people nicely stream-lined by the boardwalks constructed at key points. The most impressive sight is the Great Fountain Geyser with its practically constant activity and bright colouring along the pool but the environs are studded with no less bizarre phenomena such as deep blue pools or quicklime bubbling craters.
As the name suggests, the Midway Geyser Basin is a neighbour of the Lower Geyser Basin and next in line along the road southwards. It has the peculiar combination of two large spring pools with their combined overflow emptying into the Firehole River. The highest elevation has been awarded to the sublime Grand Prismatic Spring (apparently matching the colours produced by an optical prism facing light) that has a halo of what could be defined as psychedelic colouring by some unworthy bacteria clinging to life in different temperatures. Second on the elevation and beauty scale comes the neighboring Excelsior Geyser Spring with some serious amount of water production overflowing directly into the aptly named Firehole River. The whole complex can be seen from the higher ground of close-by hills and even more impressively from the air if a vehicle is available.
Mammoth Hot Springs certainly live up to their name – they have engulfed a whole side of the mountain with white deposits coming down in the shape of intricately laced terrace pools. In other areas peculiar hills have been formed by gently erupting liquid. The entire area is superbly saturated with paths and circular one-way drive for best access to bizarre formations and wildlife. No need to mention, the best lighting is in the afternoon perfectly matching the location of the terraced pools. The whole site is brilliantly put into context by the surrounding mountains moulding it into white arena for all to see.
My son spent a lot of time catching the geysers doing their thing. He took a lot of photos of Old Faithful, but he also walked around Upper Geyser Basin and took photos of things bubbling up there and he also saw Castle Geyser which is a cone geyser.
The Upper Geyser Basin also boasts the largest concentration of geysers in the world, including many of the worlds largest geysers. Five of the largest geysers (Castle, Daisy, Grand, Old Faithful and Riverside) are predicted by the Park Rangers.
My son took the trail that leads from the Old Faithful Inn to the Black Sand Basin and he took pictures along the way
Our last stop was lower Geyser Basin. My grandson went all around the Fountain Paint Pot trail with the guide and was able to see all five kinds of thermal features - bubbling mud pots, hot springs, fumaroles, and steam vents - and of course geysers. I sat at the beginning of the trail and people watched and bird watched.
Note: I picked this date to go to Yellowstone because it was the beginning of the season with less visitors than in the middle of the summer.
At the end of the first day, I went out on the Upper Geyser Basin trail around the Old Faithful Inn and photographed thermal features until it got too dark an I got too cold. I saw many thermal pools, geysers and hot springs including Beauty Pool. Several hundred geysers are found within the basin, together with numerous hot pools.
Unfortunately at the time I did this, I didn't think to photograph the names of all the things I saw (except for Beauty Pool and Chromatic Pool), so now I don't know exactly what all of them are.
We got lost when we left the lodge and ended up at Black Sand Basin. We had a hard time finding a parking place because the place was full of fishermen. I just walked up to the end of the bridge by Cliff Geyser, and then used the bathroom (non-flush and with no interior light). My grandson walked all the way up to Emerald Pool and took pictures of the various thermal features
According to the NPS website, this was the location of Handkerchief Pool and it was not Morning Glory Pool as I remembered.
We stopped at the Mud Volcano area because it looked like rain and the driver decided to put in an extra stop that wasn't on the original schedule, just in case. Although most of the time I didn't do a lot of the trails, in this case, I went up to the Mud Volcano and Dragon's mouth because that short bit of the trail wasn't too long and was reportedly - handicapped accessible. (See map - photo 3). My grandson did the half-mile upper loop trail via Sour Lake and the Black Dragon's Caldron is with the guide. Also in the area was the Sulphur Caldron which can be viewed from a staging area just north of Mud Volcano. The Sulphur Caldron is among the most acidic springs in the park with a pH of 1.3. Its yellow, turbulent splashing waters also there is a large, active mudpot.
We took the Ring of Fire tour, so I could see lots of thermal features and my grandmother wouldn't have to drive. We didn't get front seats on the bus, but I sat on one side and she sat on the other. We drove down Firehole Canyon drive and our last stop was Lower Geyser Basin. I went all around the Fountain Paint Pot trail with the guide and was able to see all four kinds of thermal features - mud pots, hot springs, fumaroles, and steam vents - and of course geysers. My grandmother sat and waited for us.
The other thing I did where I saw lots of thermal stuff was to take the trail from the Old Faithful Inn to Black Sand Basin, but I'll make that into another tip
It may seem ridiculous, but many people go to Old Faithful and are unaware that there are trails behind it that lead to many of Yellowstone's most beautiful hot springs, as well as other geysers. If you go to see Old Faithful, do not forget to take a walk on the trails to see the hot springs. Although some of them smell bad, the colors are gorgeous, and Yellowstone has more hot springs and geysers than any other region in the world, so it would be a shame to miss them!
By far my favorite geyser I saw during my visit was Riverside Geyser. Its distinguishing characteristic is its location mainly. Only a few feet above the bank of the Firehole River this geyser is one of the most predictable in the park. An hour or two prior to each eruption the pool in the cone begins running over the edge into the river. The bubbling becomes more visible and when it erupts water is shot to heights of 75 foot (23m).
The move interesting thing about this geyser though is that the water from its eruption almost entirely lands in the river. The geyser erupts at an angle which causes the flow to arch over the river and create an image of rain falling on the surface of the river. The dispersion of water from its angled eruption allows water vapor to cover a large area and that creates a great habitat for rainbows.
The regularity of the Geyser, every 5 to 7 hours, allows you a much better chance to see it erupt. For eruption times check at the Old Faithful Visitors Center or hike to the geyser and read the prediction sign which is updated daily. Each eruption lasts about 20 minutes.
Grotto Geyser is just a short walk along the paved path from Old Faithful. First Passing the Castle-Grand Group then the Daisy Group you will end up at the Grotto Group next. There are actually a few different Geysers that are commonly erupting in the same area. Like many other attractions in the park, Grotto Geyser was one of the points made in the 1870 report to congress to make Yellowstone a national park.
The main thing that sets Grotto Geyser apart from many of the others in the park is its peculiar shape. It has a semicircular wall that surrounds a single spire in the middle. When it erupts the water is shot into that spire and splashes. One of the other drawing properties of this geyser is its activity. The eruption of this geyser is only 7-29 hours between eruptions, but the eruptions last from 1 to up to 17 hours. The extremely long duration of its eruptions make the chance of you seeing this geyser erupting pretty good. Its nearly constant activity shoots water up to 15 feet in the air consistently and may reach 40 feet (12 m).
Giant Geyser is the second largest active geyser in the world. Only Steamboat Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin is larger. By active they mean that it has erupted somewhat recently and is likely to erupt again. Both of these Geysers have not erupted in a predictable manner in recent times. As recently as 1997 the geyser had somewhat regular eruptions of every 3-10 days. Since then its regularity has become more sporadic. It may go several months with no eruption and could even go years without.
The beauty of this Geyser is that if you are lucky enough to witness an eruption you will join a very small group of people who have also seen it. Of course their would be no big deal if the geyser was small. This is however, one Giant Geyser. Its eruptions may be shot in excess of 180 - 250 feet (55 - 76m) high. The first minute is usually where the maximum height is reached and it wanes down later in its eruption cycle to 90 feet or less. The eruptions are last a very long time and can go for over an hour. Since it is a cone type geyser like Old Faithful its eruption is fairly constant without spurts like Grand Geyser.
With the long duration and height of the water being erupted it’s no surprise that this geyser amount of water erupted out of this geyser is 100 times that of old faithful. 1,000,000 gallons of water can be shot into the air in one single eruption.
Visually Giant Geyser’s cone looks like a petrified tree stump. Its cone is approximately 10 feet tall and even if it is not erupting you may hear it gurgling and witness water cycling through the center of its cone.