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10.26.2007 - 25 comments 

Well… before actually leaving the Park and making the trek south toward Teton National Park, I just wanted a chance to post some of my favorite photos I shot here in this “living and breathing” park.

Many of the unique things about this park are really almost “Other Worldly”. I mean where can you be within the caldera of a dead volcano that still seems to be alive? Where can you see a Bald Eagle flying high above a boiling mud pot and then watch him land on what looks like a dead lodge pole pine, so close to it that you wonder if he has a nose?

Where else can you smell a stench of sulfur, only to then be smitten by the beauty that the “stinky thing” holds? Where else can you look at something that looks like the craters on the moon, only to realize that you are still right here on terra firma here in the U.S.A.? Where else could you see signs all over a park that refers to the Continental Divide? Where else can you go where everyone around you is asking; “Have you ever seen anything that beautiful before?” Where else can you see bison grazing right along a river that has geysers right beside it? Where can you go that has the kind of diverse plant and animal life as this place does?

I have been lucky enough in my life to have seen many beautiful places as well as many wonderful and exciting cites, but never have I been to a place that has had not only such beautiful “natural” things, but also to have seen some of the most “unique” sights I have even seen anywhere? I hope you enjoy the shots and the beauty of the magnificent “Yellowstone National Park?

Really… where else can I go to try and top this kind of beauty? ~ lz///

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson



10.17.2007 - 27 comments 

You know, I am almost ashamed to show my ignorance about this feature of the park... that is, until our visit here this summer. I was actually never aware of many of the natural features of this wonderful park of which, I literally had "NO CLUE." But now that we've been there, I can say things like; "Well... I thought EVERYONE knew that!" But now this will have to be our little secret!

These pots were very interesting, but I wouldn't say they were beautiful, but darn, they sure were unique. And I must say that I've never seen anything quite like then before. Boiling mud that made aweful noises and even worse smells. Also things like the fact that the whole parimeter of the Yellowstone Park is actually a caldera from the volcano that created Yellowstone. As we looked around that huge area, it was just hard to imagine it was all part of a volcano that blew its top some millions of years ago. But yet still seems to be boiling to this day.

The more popular geysers often overshadow the mud pots. These natural wonders should not be missed though. Although the mud pots are not as picturesque as the hot springs and the pools, these turbulent pools of hot, muddy water, and bizarre landscapes are another feature that makes Yellowstone National Park so very unique.

We were told by the guide that "as you experience the mud pots and volcanoes, to be aware that you are close to one of the major vents from which lava flowed through the caldera's collapse". These areas are active and known as resurging domes. They are always being monitored closely for information about future volcanic activity here. As you experience the mud pots, you are certain to smell a distinct odor. The presence of sulfur in mud pots separates them from the Hot Springs. In the form of hydrogen sulfide gas, sulfur is what creates the infamous odor. In some areas it was so strong that I almost had to hold my nose.

At Fountain Paint Pot Fountain Paint Pot Trail - On the Fountain Paint Pot trail, you will find all four types of thermal features. Geysers, mud pots, hot springs, and fumaroles are all along a short boardwalk.

Silex Spring - Silex spring's water supply is so great that it usually overflows throughout the year. The overflow provides a habitat for mats and various types of bacterial. Those are what seem to cause the very unusual colors around not only some of the mud pots, but also many of the geyers as well. Our guide also shared that they have found that some of these bacteria can actully live in 160 plus degree water and mud.

Also with Fountain Paint Pot, what you see here depends on what time of the year you visit. In early summer the mud is thin and watery, by late summer, the mud has become quite thick. Bubbling caused by steam changes as the mud thickens. It was very thick when we were there.

Due to viewers popular post requests, I have also included some more shots from the general area that I took these mud pot shots. I hope you enjoy especially without the pungent smell of the sulfur!

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." ~ Leo Tolstoy



10.12.2007 - 32 comments 

The experience of Old Faithful, as the most popular geyser in the world is a thrill to say the least. This says nothing about all the hundreds of other geysers and hot springs in the park. When we viewed the Old Faithful eruption, we had the additional excitement of having a thunder storm and rain shower at almost the exact same time that the geyser erupted. This added excitement was not there the next day when we calmly sat around waiting to watch it all over again (sans rain gear).

Our guide told us that Old Faithful, is not the largest, or the most consistent or even regular of the geysers in the park. But he did say it is the most watched and photographed geyser in the park. The infamous Old Faithful geyser got its name because of its punctuality and predictability. Old Faithful erupts more frequently than other large geysers. We did get to see another one (which I can’t remember its name) but it only goes off every 2-3 days and sometimes doesn’t go off for a week or so. So it is not something that people are willing to wait around for. (Well at least MOST people!)

At the time we were in the park, Old Faithful was erupting about every 91 minutes. But they say to give it 10 minutes on both sides of its projected eruption time. The guide also said Old Faithful is the most popular attraction of Yellowstone National Park. As I mentioned, although it is the most photographed and most talked about, Old Faithful is not the largest or most grand geyser. The Upper Geyser Basin, Black Sand and Biscuit Basin offer much more sights to see than just the Old Faithful geyser.

Some interesting facts about Old Faithful that dispel many myths about the geyser are that its eruption length and height, and time between eruptions varies from day to day and year to year. As of March 2003, the eruption length ranges from 1.5 to 5 minutes; the average interval between eruptions is 94 minutes. Old Faithful's height ranges from 106 feet to more than 180 feet, averaging 130 feet. Its average eruption length, height and interval will change again--often as a result of an earthquake. 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of water are expelled per eruption, depending on the length of eruption. Just prior to eruption, water temperature at the vent is 204° F / 95.6° C. It's just one of the more than 300 geysers in Yellowstone.

Old Faithful is a cone geyser, which erupts in a narrow jet of water, usually from a cone. Fountain geysers, such as Grand (also in the Upper Geyser Basin), generally shoot water in various directions, most often from a pool. (I’d hazard a guess that those were pool geysers?)

To truly experience all that this Old Faithful area has to offer, you will have to walk around a bit in the surrounding area. There are wooden paths everywhere to keep you out of trouble and out of the geysers. These paths are like old Atlantic City boardwalks and you can even see steam coming up right along many of these areas. The geyser basin area kind of gave you an eerie feeling of walking around on the moon or some warmer planet somewhere else in our universe must be like.

Over time, the average interval between Old Faithful's eruptions increases, in part due to ongoing processes within its plumbing. Changes also result from earthquakes. Prior to the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake, centered 12 miles northwest of the park's west entrance, the interval between Old Faithful's eruptions averaged slightly more than one hour. Its intervals increased after that earthquake and again after the 1983 Borah Peak Earthquake, centered in Idaho. In 1998, an earthquake near Old Faithful lengthened the interval again; later, another swarm of earthquakes further increased intervals.

Between long intervals and other variable, waiting for Old Faithful's eruptions can stretch beyond the predicted time. Think of it this way: you've got time now to meet other visitors, enjoy many other Upper Geyser Basin's geysers and thermal features, or read about the park, or take a much needed rest. So relax, be flexible, and enjoy the time you spend with the world's most famous geyser; and that is exactly what we did! What a place!

I've also added some sequential shots of what it looks like as it starts sputtering and then fully goes up to its maximum of about 150 feet when we saw it both times (with and without the rain shower). It is really quiet beautiful!

"To love another person is to see the face of God." ~ Les Miserables (the musical)



10.04.2007 - 28 comments 

Moving on through Wyoming and on to West Yellowstone, Montana (where we spend a couple of nights) we noticed that things kept getting more beautiful everywhere we looked. First of all, trying to cover a place like Yellowstone in just one post is not going to work. There are just too many beautiful and unique things here to try and cover it in just a few paragraphs and a picture. This was one of my favorite shots of what is known as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I truly thought is was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Even thoough this is only the Upper Falls part of the canyon, it gives you an idea just how spectacular that end of the canyon was.

The park itself was established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park and it is proud of its heritage as America's FIRST national park. The part that kind of blew me away was that the park is located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. We happened to stay right outside of the West Entrance to the park in a city called West Yellowstone, Montana, but the town was literally just blocks from not only the state line between Montana and Wyoming, but only blocks from the East gate that seemed to only be a few hundred feet beyond the sign saying “Welcome to Wyoming”.

Because of the park’s large size, it is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Preserved within Yellowstone National Park are Old Faithful (a later post I’m sure) and a collection of the world's most extraordinary geysers and hot springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (which I’ve posted a picture of here). Our tour guide explained that the park alone is larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island put together. So that should give you a little perspective about its size. Plus the fact that it is in three states too.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the primary geologic feature in the Canyon District of the park. It is roughly 20 miles long, measured from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area. Depth is 800 to 1,200 ft.; width is 1,500 to 4,000 ft. The canyon as we know it today is a very recent geologic feature. The present canyon is no more than 10,000 to 14,000 years old, although there has probably been a canyon in this location for a much longer period.

The exact sequence of events in the formation of the canyon is not well understood, as there has been little field work done in the area. The few studies that are available are thought to be inaccurate. They do know that the canyon was formed by erosion rather than by glaciations. The geologic story of the canyon, its historical significance as a barrier to travel, its significance as destination/attraction, and its appearance in Native American lore and in the accounts of early explorers are all important interpretive points. The "ooh-ahh" factor is also important: its beauty and grandeur, its significance as a feature to be preserved, and the development of the national park idea.

Even though this picture of mine cannot replace actually seeing the beauty of the canyon, it does show several of the significant things that I loved about the canyon. Like all of my photos that I included with my posts, you can click on the photo itself for a bigger and (hopefully) better view. I usually keep the size down to 800 pixels wide for a normal landscape mode photo, but for this particular one, I only scaled it down to 1,000 pixels. But like I said, even at that it cannot do the REAL canyon justice.

"There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings." ~ Hodding Carter, Jr.