Monday, September 12, 2011
Yellowstone Park, Madison Junction to Norris.
We stayed at West Yellowstone, MT to visit Yellowstone National Park,which is one of our favorite places. Our first stop coming into Yellowstone along the Madison River, was Terrace Spring, a small, but interesting thermal feature.
These springs are really interesting as shown here. The spring is very hot (that is steam rising above it), and crystal clear. Yellowstone lies in a very active geothermal area and in fact, is the site of an old, but still active volcano.
It was still pretty chilly here and we learned that West Yellowstone, MT was the coldest area in the lower 48 states the night before (27 degrees!). We are on a platform right above the main spring in the Terrace Spring area.
This is the main part of Terrace Spring and is it boiling! The steam and heat was rising here and really felt pretty nice to us. This is a great example of the power of Yellowstone Park.
Since we turned north at Madison Junction, our next stop was at Gibbon Falls. This 84' high falls on the Gibbon River is a beautiful waterfall and a very popular stop for folks. We were surprised at the number of folks that were in the park, we had thought that since we were here after Labor Day, there would be few folks around.
Orinda really liked the falls area and we were fortunate to have a beautiful day. The temperature was climbing into the high 70's, and the winds were light.
We traveled on north on the Grand Loop Drive to the Artist's Paintpots geyser area. There is a mile long walk through this area that lets you get up close to see the various thermal features. As you can see, there is no shortage of steam around here.
This is a rather large area that features all kinds of thermal pools. These pools are not the clear pools that we saw at the Terrace Spring, rather, there are all kinds muddy pools that bubble thickly in different colors.
One really interesting thing about this area is that it was heavily damaged by the huge fires in 1988. Indeed, many of the burned trees are still standing giving silent witness to the damages. We actually came to Yellowstone the first time in the summer of 1988, right before the fires, and can remember how dry the area was.
Thankfully, the park is well on the road to a full healing.These trees have all sprouted after the fire and are now up to 12 - 15' high. There are millions of trees of this size and on most hillsides, you can now again see green forests. We hope to be able to visit again in 10 more years and see the changes.