July 16, 2015: This basin was on my way from West Yellowstone to the Old Faithful area and this was one of my favorites – maybe because it contains the iconic Grand Prismatic Spring shown here on the info sign and featured in many postcards with those unbelievable vibrant colors.
Grand Prismatic Spring
I wish I could have seen an aerial view, but this is the best I could do. Info sign says it’s the largest and most brilliant of Yellowstone’s many colorful hot springs and stretches 200 feet across.
The yellow, orange and brown colors encircling the spring are caused by heat loving microorganisms that thrive in the harsh conditions of hot springs. The sign about “Life on the Edge” here says that Yellowstone is one of the most accessible places to study extreme environments and the organisms that inhabit them. Understanding lifeforms here provides clues for scientists searching for life elsewhere in the universe.
I can believe that if Martians came here, they’d probably feel at home.
I found these layers so interesting and beautiful.
Magma from an active volcano deep underneath heats water that rises to the surface, pumping almost 500 gallons of water each minute into the Firehole River.
You cross it from the parking lot to get to the fully accessible 1/2 mile boardwalk trail.
This little video will give you an idea of the moving sights and sounds.
The gem-like blue water here led the 1878 Hayden Expedition to so aptly name this pool.
Excelsior Geyser Crater
This was the most easily seen and the blue color was phenomenal. An eruption here in the 1880’s formed the jagged crater and although we can never know when it might erupt again, the last time was in 1985.
Overview of this gorgeous area
It was a windy day and there were several hats blown off into the thermal areas. A ranger told me they have to be removed by rangers who are specially trained to “go off boardwalk” to remove this kind of stuff with as little damage as possible.
Definitely don’t pass this basin by when on your way to Old Faithful – it’s more than worth the stop!