On Tuesday, we woke up for our second day of Yellowstone. We stayed at Canyon Campground (K on the map), which has an elevation of nearly 8000 feet. It was chilly at that campground! The overnight low was around 30 degrees Fahrenheit. I was wearing around four layers most of the time: thermals, a long sleeved shirt, zip-up hoodie, down jacket, and sometimes a rain jacket. There were bathrooms at this campground and I made the mistake of trying to wash my face in the freezing cold water only once!
Our campsite. They keep the vegetation thinned out--probably to prevent forest fires.
At Yellowstone, you spend a lot of time driving. It's a huge park -- 3,472 square miles! On this day, we went to Lower Yellowstone Falls (L on the Map), Norris Geyser Basin and Artists' Paint Pots (M on the map), Old Faithful (I on the Map), and Grand Prismatic Spring (N on the Map). Google estimates that we drove a total of 113 miles that day, and that's just the bottom half of Yellowstone.
We hiked down to Lower Yellowstone Falls at around noon. It's a short hike that takes several switchbacks to get to a platform where you can view the falls. It's not bad on the way down, but the way back up was rough. I had to stop several times to catch my back with the steep switchbacks and high elevation.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I love the formations in the volcanic rock.
The Yellowstone river crashing through the canyon with snow still on the sides.
A tree silhouetted in the roaring white water before it hits the falls.
On this day I started taking video of many of the features at Yellowstone. It's difficult to understand them without seeing the movement.
- There are over 3,000 buffalo (bison) in Yellowstone.
- They are the largest mammal in the park.
- Bulls can weigh up to 1,800 pounds and are about 6 feet tall.
- Wolves in the park have been documented hunting buffalo.
- Many park visitors have been gored by buffalo when approaching too close.
- Buffalo will ram vehicles if they feel threatened.
- Buffalo have lived in Yellowstone since prehistoric times.
- There were less than 50 buffalo in Yellowstone in 1902 due to hunting.
We went to Norris Geyser basin next. Unfortunately, non of the geysers were going off while we were there.
Steamboat Geyser. This is the largest geyser in the world (380 feet). The last time it erupted was in 2005. You can see a little bit of water sloshing around in the picture.
A pretty view from Norris Geyser.
The path through Norris Geyser Basin.
Porcelain Basin. This area is highly acidic.
Look! A buffalo!!
I'm not sure what this is called, but we stopped to take a picture of it. I love how so many of these volcanic springs run right into the river.
These signs were everywhere, yet we saw many people sticking their fingers into pools and walking off the walkway. It made me sad that people are so uncivilized and so uneducated. At one point, Bill stopped to tell a woman that was sticking her fingers in the pools that some of them are acidic. She gave him a look of shock. Tourists have been injured in many of these areas. Here's an incident that happened at the Artists' Paint Pots: http://www.nps.gov/yell/parknews/08039.htm .
One of the streams coming from the volcanic spring.
A bubbling pot. Click the video below to see one of them in motion.
I love the beautiful plants that grow right next to bubbling acid and super-heated water.
One of the pretty pools along the walk.
One of the bubbling paint pots.
Some of the dead trees from a forest fire with the new trees growing beneath.
We stopped to look at Gibbon Falls on the way down to Old Faithful.
We sat staring at Old Faithful for a good 30 minutes waiting for it to start. Most of the time, it looked like this. Every once in a while, a little bit of water would start to bubble up and we would think it was starting. Everyone would get their cameras going, and then it would stop. This happened at least five times until several of the cameras in Bill's cousins family died and mine nearly did.
My new Vibrams with Old Faithful in the background. These one's are leather and warmer.
Luckily, I managed to keep my camera going long enough! I have a video of the eruption, but you'll have to wait a couple of days to see it in my compilation video! ;)
Our last stop before heading back to the campground was the Grand Prismatic Spring. This is a beautiful area that you generally see these awesome, colorful, areal shots from. We had the unique experience of being there during sunset. It was nearly deserted, the colors had a different hue, and the whole area was covered in gorgeous reflections. This is a shot of the spring flowing into the Firehole River.
More beautiful flowers growing next to boiling hot springs.
A thistle in the fading sunlight.
It was cold out, so many of the pools were producing a lot of steam.
The view from across the boardwalk loop.
Where's Bill? Can you find him?
the sun before it goes behind the mountains.
The colors in these bacterial mats were amazing. I would love to go back during the day and see them in their full bright splendor. In this shot, you can see some elk tracks.
Notice this sign.
And what do people do anyway? What I find to be interesting is that people don't even think about the fact that they're sticking their fingers straight into thick layers of foreign bacteria.
I love the way the steam rises off of this pool.
The ribbing in these bacterial mats is really interesting.
It looks alien.
A close up of the ribbing.
The sun as it makes its way behind the mountains.
I love the reflection of the clouds.
Bill's cousin and his son walking through the steam.
Check back for Day 6!