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Friday 24 July 2020

Yellowstone National Park: Grand Prismatic Spring & Midway Geyser Basin

I'm back today with more from our recent trip to Yellowstone National Park. As I mentioned in my last post, I took so many photos during our two days in the park that I decided to share just one part of the park per post - instead of spamming you with the world's longest blog post!

My last post focused on Upper Geyser Basin, home to Old Faithful geyser, and today's post is all about another popular location in Yellowstone: Grand Prismatic.

Grand Prismatic has long been a popular sight in Yellowstone thanks to it's large size and intense colors. With deep turquoise water flanked by vivid orange it's an awe inspiring sight to see and one of  Yellowstone's instantly recognizable locations. I had been looking forward to seeing Grand Prismatic the most out of everything in Yellowstone (or what I knew of in Yellowstone) in the lead up to this trip. I couldn't wait to see all those stunning colors for myself. 

Now you may remember that the weather wasn't so great during our trip to Yellowstone. All that moisture in the air meant that the geysers and hot springs had more steam coming off them than they would on a clear day. The bigger the hot spring, the more steam rising off it. Given the large size of Grand Prismatic, it had the most steam out of all the geysers and hot springs we saw. 

Unfortunately, all this steam hung like a heavy blanket over Grand Prismatic, obscuring its turquoise waters for the most part. Every now and then we'd get a glimpse at the stunning colors below, but only briefly. That said, it was still a majestic sight to behold. Look at all that steam! I had a hard time seeing because my glasses were constantly fogged up! 

While we may not have been able to take in clear views of Grand Prismatic, what we did see was still stunning. The way that the ground forms around the pool in waves of ripples was one of my favorite things. I can't lie and say I know any of the science behind this, but I can say that I was in awe of it. If you look closely you'll spot footprints from various animals that have been walking on the surface at some point. 

Speaking of footprints, check out the bison footprints below. They were huge! I like to imagine that they're fresh, but for all I know they may have been there for years. Maybe decades. Who knows?

Like Upper Geyser Basin, there was more than just one sight to take in here. Grand Prismatic may be the main attraction but the raised boardwalk took us past several other beautiful pools. The vibrant turquoise colors of Excelsior Geyser Crater below were gorgeous, although just like Grand Prismatic they were a little hard to see under all the steam. 

Opal Pool was also pretty with its muted pastel colors and was much easier to see as it had less steam. Similarly, the nearby larger Turquoise Pool was much less steamy than Grand Prismatic. 

As I took in the views over Turquoise Pool I spotted what I'm sure is to become the "new" litter to find in touristy places. Yep - that's a surgical mask. I'm sure it wasn't dropped there intentionally (it was quite windy, after all) but it was litter none the less. Now, normally I pick up litter when I find it in nature, but you may notice that it's right next a sign reminding visitors not to leave the boardwalk. By leaving the boardwalk to pick up the mask I would likely have done more damage. Plus, you know, it's a hot spring and going close to it would be dangerous.

Oh look... another mask on the ground. Once again, I'm sure it wasn't littered on purpose, but it's a good reminder to make sure you're wearing your mask securely. Not only for the safety of yourself and others nearby, but also to avoid it becoming litter in an ecologically delicate area.

Ok, enough about masks... I'm just glad that most people here were wearing them. As you can see in the pics below there were quite a few people at Midway Geyser Basin when we visited. Actually, we had to wait a little to get a spot in the parking lot when we arrived, but because it's a relatively small area, the turn over of visitors was fairly fast. Oh, and if you look to the left of the boardwalk, you can see the littered surgical mask again. It was close to the boardwalk but not quite close enough to safely retrieve.

See that river that all the people are crossing in the shot above? That's the Firehole River. You can see how it got its name what with all the steam along the banks as the warm water from the geysers and hot springs flows down waterfalls to reach the river. It left me wondering what the temperature of the river must be. I'm sure it's probably quite cold even with the warm water flowing in.

Midway Geyser Basin is a relatively small area meaning that it's a pretty quick stop as you make your way through Yellowstone. Like all the other areas that we visited within the park there are raised boardwalks for visitors to walk on. These are all flat and wide making them wheelchair accessible. As this is a fairly small stop there are no bathrooms or facilities. It is only a short drive from Upper Geyser Basin where these can be found.

More Yellowstone coming soon so stay tuned!

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