Yellowstone National Park – Part 1

Our first adventure into Yellowstone National Park, the oldest national park. We really did not know a lot about Yellowstone except that Yogi and Boo Boo are notorious for stealing picnic baskets in Jellystone. Don’t worry ranger Smith has them under control.

The major portion of YS was created by a very large volcano, which erupted approximately 630,000 years ago. The remaining crater is about 30 by 50 MILES. And in the middle of this huge crater is a very large lake. This lake is at 7,700 ft. above sea level and is so large you can hardly see the other side (~131 sq miles of surface area). Keep in mind that we are here in very smoky conditions so maybe other times you can see the other side?? The lake was not created by a dam as many are, it is completely natural and is over 400 ft. deep at its deepest point.

 

Another major (albeit recent) event that has marked the landscape here was a wildfire in 1988 that engulfed about 1/3 of the 2.2 million acre park. This fire started on May 24 from a lightning strike and burned until the first snow fall on September 11. Parts continued to smolder until late in November. You see marks left by this and other (less severe) fires all over the park, fire is a part of the natural cycle in the woods. That fire was about 30 years ago, and the forest is still far from recovered.

From Cody you travel over an hour thru the amazing Absaroka Mountain range before reaching Yellowstone,

P1110397 (2)And then another hour and a half thru beautiful mountains, some badly burned forest and around the lake before you reach the attractions of YS.

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Our first big adventure was at the West Thumb of YS Lake and the hot springs/geysers there.   The west thumb is a Caldera (volcano crater) inside of a Caldera. A powerful volcanic eruption approximately 174,000 years ago caused the earth’s crust to collapse creating the West Thumb caldera which later filled with water to become a large bay on YS Lake. There are mostly hot springs remaining in this area, some are called Geysers and we were impressed (until we saw a real geyser that is).

They range from this small mud pot

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To this large bottomless hole. This run off from this spring was our first experience with thermophiles. Thermophiles are brightly colored algae that thrive in conditions of hot springs. Their color depends somewhat on the temperature of the spring.

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This final geyser “fishing cone” comes with a history. Mountain men told of a geyser along an alpine lake where one could catch a trout, swing the pole around, dip it into the boiling pool and cook the fish without taking it off the line. This is that former boiling pool.

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From here we crossed the continental divide

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twice on the way to – drum roll please – Old Faithful.

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We had Nellie with us so only had lunch at Old Faithful and watched the excitement. Will return to this area, but time to keep going now.

Firehole lake drive was a nice 2.5 mile off the main loop road with stops at several geysers and hot springs.

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Great Fountain Geyser – this one follows a relative regular schedule, but we were in too much of a hurry to wait… I think the second pic is it going off from across the lake, see what happens when you rush things.

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White Dome Geyser

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And Black Warrior Lake with steady geyser

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From here we continued the lower park loop. The park is arranged like a figure 8 with several spikes leading out to the real world. We completed the lower circle of the figure 8 on our first day. Very LOOOONG day it was.

We visited the Firehole river canyon and waterfall.

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The Gibbon River Falls

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And the brink of the upper falls at the Grand Canyon of YS before heading home for the night.

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Wheew, Peace and Love for the night!!!

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