Morning Glory Pool, Yellowstone National Park
Apart from the geysers, the Old Faithful area is also famous for another thing: Morning Glory Pool.
Morning Glory Pool is one of the most spectacular pools in the park. It used to be deep blue with a yellow fringe. However, due to pollution of the pool in the first half of the previous century, the colour changed to greenish and the yellow fringes moved more to the centre of the pool.
There are many trails emanating from Old Faithful and while Geyser Hill offers a nice and different perspective of the famous one along with some impressive geysers and pools, do not stop there. If you continue along that trail towards the Morning Glory-Riverside Group, you will be rewarded with one of the most stunning sights in the park. We actually did this in reverse, heading towards Castle Geyser from Old Faithful which was nice in itself and was about a third of the 1.5 mile trail to the Morning Glory Pool. While this walk was not exactly empty, it was in no way as crowded as it should have been considering the short distance and ample reward.
Though the pool is quite small, it is very colorful for all the same reasons others are, heat-thriving bacteria making for a stunning display of hues. What makes this one so spectacular is you get a bit of elevation on it from the boardwalk trail that brings you alongside it. I was certainly not the only one climbing on top of the small wooden fence to gain just a few more feet! The sun came out just as we got there and I am glad I snapped quickly as it went in quickly too, and the glory of the pool was not quite as well, glorious. Timing is nice but luck was timing in this case.
Though we reached the Morning Glory Pool via the Castle Geyser Trail, we returned via the Giant Geyser and Geyser Hill trails. This was studded with far more sights but all paled in comparison and I would say it it makes more sense to walk the route counter-clockwise to take in these impressive formations first, peaking at the Morning Glory Pool and returning on the quick and less interesting walk by the Castle Geyser. Highlights of the walk back for us were the Beauty and Doublet Pools.
Morning Glory Pool is located in the Old Faithful area and can be reached by boardwalk. It's very large, beautiful, and a definite must see. At one time the pool was completely blue, but due to partial clogging of the vent, the temperatures have cooled and algae has grown producing the yellowish color. Unfortunately visitors have thrown refuse into the many geothermal features which changes their colors and eventually destroys them. Park rangers patrol these areas but it's impossible to catch all the perpetrators
Oh the story of Morning Glory pool is a sad one. At the end of the upper geyser basin trail, about a mile from Old Faithful, sits this once glorious little pool, that has wilted and turned brown. Once upon a time, Morning Glory lived up to it's name and was a beautiful blue in color. Now, since so many hooligans and litterbugs have thrown refuse into the depths of the pool clogging it up, the water has cooled and many of the little blue thermophiles that used to live here have died off. They have been replaced with yellow and brown thermophiles who like cooler temperatures (still to hot for people so don't get any hot potting ideas!) So the result is a wilted flower. It is still a beautiful pool. Please visitors, don't throw things in any of the features, it really damages them.
The Morning Glory Pool is only 1.4 miles from the Old Faithful Visitors Center by way of a partial boardwalk partial paved path. Along the way you will pass many of Yellowstone?s notable geysers like Grotto Geyser and Castle Geyser.
Morning Glory Pool is a hot spring and was named in the 1880's for its sapphire color which was similar to the color of the morning glory flower. Since the time the pool was named, the pool has been polluted by visitors who littered rocks, coins, and other objects into the pool. Some seemed to think it was a natural version of a wishing well. Each of these objects have took part in blocking the path of the vent which gives the pool its heat.
The lack of direct heat from the vent dropped its temperature from nearly 200 degrees Fahrenheit (100 Celsius) at the surface to a colder 140-120 degrees (65-50 Celsius). This drop changed kinds of bacteria living near the surface from Archaea which grows only in water 170 degrees Fahrenheit (75 Celsius) or more to others. The colder bacteria comes in many different colors like:
Cyanobacteria (163 F or 73 C) yellow
Fungi and Algae (140 F or 60 C) yellow/green
Protozoa (133 F 66 C) Orange
Mosses (122 F or 50 C) Brown
This beautiful thermal pool once had a pure blue color. Now it looks pale blue-green. The reason was increased bacterial and algal activities thanks to a drop in pool temperature. This was in turn a result of blockage in the pool circulation caused by, amazingly, debris and trash thrown down by visitors! Despite warnings, the NPS has to dredge the pool yearly to clear it of debris.
Morning Glory Pool got its name from the color and the resemblance to a blue morning glory flower. In the old days it could be reached by car and was one of the first features visitors would see entering the Upper Geyser Basin. It used to be popular to toss Kleenex into the pool which clogged the vents and decreased the water flow which in turn causing the pool’s deep blue color to fade and allowed the red and yellow algae to grow toward the center. The road has since been removed and now Morning Glory Pool is reached by a flat 1.5 mile flat walk from the Old Faithful Inn area. This path is also accessible from the Lower Hamilton General Store near Old Faithful Inn.
Morning Glory Pool is in Upper Geyser Basin
It's not easy to describe the Pool with words and actually I do not remember its origin. But the picture tells you much more and let you understand how stunning it is and...you can miss it, although the path reaching the pool is quite long.
This was probably the most heartbreaking site in the park for me. Many moons ago, I bought my first national park guide book and saw a picture of the beautiful blue pool. Morning Glory and Grand Prismatic were the two must see sites for me. I hiked from Old Faithful to the end of the trail, and peeked over the side to see her in her current state. The beautiful deep blue is replaced by an ugly green. A testament to all the idiots in the world who insist on throwing things in the geysers and pools. The vents get blocked up, and the water doesn’t stay as hot, allowing different organisms to grow. While I have no regrets of walking over to see the pool, it kills me to see what has happened to it.