Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming - Part I
by Sudha Chandrasekaran
Entrance to Yellowstone National Park
Get lost in the beauty of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, California- Part I
“America’s national parks have been called the country’s best idea and it’s this idea that took hold in the wondrous pocket planet of Yellowstone, the world’s first and most magnificent national park!” And this is what prompted us to undertake a trip to Yellowstone! A few moments which you encounter during your travels bowl over you completely and remain with you forever and the fond memories make you smile even after several years. Our visit to Yellowstone National Park during our short sojourn in Fremont, California, last August proved to be one such experience. All excited we embarked on a 4-day bus tour to Wyoming’s iconic Yellowstone National Park.
We boarded our flight to Salt Lake City (SLC), the capital of Utah and reached there after 90 minutes. After a good night’s rest, at 7 am the next day, we set out to the famous large natural lake Great Salt Lake, which is five times saltier than the ocean! The place where we stand is an overlook that gives us a spectacular sight of the broad spectrum of the lake. But it is smelly owing to the great expanse of salt beds.This interesting visit is over in less than an hour and off we are to Yellowstone National park.
Our drive up north from Utah to Idaho to Montana and finally to Wyoming is spectacular and is flanked by beautiful ranches. Three states in three hours! We head directly towards Yellowstone’s west entrance, stopping briefly for a photo with the Yellowstone sign. There is no public transportation here and a seven-day admission pass to the national park is issued at a cost. The park is spread throughout three states -Wyoming sharing 96% of the park; and, Montana and Idaho sharing 4% each.
We enter Upper Geyser Basin, which is less than a half-mile wide, and contains the world’s greatest concentration of hot springs. It is home to several impressive and well-known geysers. Well, geysers are holes in the ground that give us a glimpse of the bubbling boiling earth underneath. We plan on spending half a day exploring that area in general, and the Old Faithful Geyser in particular, which is the most famous geyser in the world. This is one of nature's most well-scheduled phenomena and is an amazing occurrence which is extremely good at meeting expectations, and is actually named after its predictability-Old Faithful Geyser! It erupts every 92 minutes on an average and large numbers of people gather around the geyser to see it erupt just at the right moment, as though it is a stage performance! Old Faithful spews a giant stream of boiling hot water
straight into the air, reaching a height of 130 to 190 feet with eruptions normally lasting between 1.5 to 5 minutes. However this does not stop nature fans from flocking there to catch a close-up glimpse of Old Faithful, whose trajectory remains the same every time. A table displaying the estimated timings of eruption is posted there. As soon as we reach the seating area the eruption starts with a short burst, as if it was waiting for us to start the 3-minute spectacular show.
We continue our bus journey of 30 minutes to Midway Geyser Basin, which is dominated by the impressive Grand Prismatic hot Spring, the largest in the US. The trail in the Basin is clearly marked and has board walks for easy walking. We see steam all around- a rare sight indeed! As the name suggests, we witness a stunning show of multi colour rings! We are warned of refraining from touching the spring as boiling water could melt the skin! Travelling through the park we come face to face with bears, elks, and bison, that are common in this area. Given the timing of our arrival we just have time for a short boardwalk stroll to view some interesting thermal features which have an unpleasant smell.
A part of the Lower Geyser Basin, Fountain Paint Pot Trail offers a variety of geothermal features that are expressions of Yellowstone's volcanism. Clay and steam pushing through the rock have created the most popular attraction here. Plopping and bubbling as gas escapes the Earth, these are one of Yellowstone's weirdest and funniest thermal features. On your walk around this half-mile heavily trafficked boardwalk loop you encounter several types of thermal features that include geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles. Many geysers erupt frequently and you are almost guaranteed of a great show on your short hike. The emanating steam from these paint pots colour the clay with shades of white, brown and grey. We come across boiling mud vats and Fumaroles that spew mud out of the earth’s surface.
The muddy pools bulge and burst in an entertaining display, as gas bubbles of hydrogen sulphide erupt on the surface like miniature trapeze artists. The pool colours on this insanely popular trail are jaw dropping with the orange and green surrounding the aqua blue. All along the trail we experience spectacular geyser eruptions; intense sulphur scents; boiling hot water; and sparkling colourful pools. Ultimately this hike culminates in the Morning Glory Pool. We are particularly impressed with this pool as it displays beautiful, brilliant and exotic colours. Our day comes to an end and we return to our hotel in Idaho, as lodging in Yellow stone is very expensive. *** Part II