The geothermal features in Yellowstone are amazing. The park has several geyser basins and a large number of other geothermal features such as hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles. They say that number of features in Yellowstone has been estimated at 10,000. The hydrothermal system that supplies these features with hot water sits within an ancient active caldera. Yes, Yellowstone is a giant volcanic depression formed by an ancient volcano (and obviously still active as evidenced by the geothermal features).
Norris – one of my favorite geyser basins
While hiking the Norris area I spent some time talking to the “geyser watchers”. Similar to the wildlife paparazzi, the geyser folks are dedicated to their craft. Armed with notepads and watches they devotedly wait for the oftentimes-unpredictable park geysers to erupt.
It turns out that they are not as unpredictable as one would think and they frequently show specific signs before an eruption. Norris is the home of the largest geyser in the park “Steamboat” which can go years between erruptions.
West Thumb – geysers along the lake
The weather was cold and rainy but the Ranger walk around the West Thumb geyser basin along the lake was interesting and informative.
Old Faithful – the busiest part of the park
The key to viewing the popular geysers in the Old Faithful area is to get there early.
It was a bit frosty and chilly but there were few folks on the trails and boardwalks in the upper and lower geyser basins.
I was lucky enough to view the eruption of beehive geyser, which only erupts once every 12 hours.
Returning back to Old Faithful after a 5-mile hike the crowds had taken over the area. Even so, it was mandatory to stay and see an Old Faithful eruption.
Mammoth Hot Springs
– the terraces are beautiful and worth a hike and drive along the boardwalks and upper terrace drive.
I also visited a number of roadside geothermal areas – that is when there was parking available!