The reason Yellowstone was made into the first national park on the planet is its unique thermal features. There were many times during my recent visit when I felt as if I were on another planet entirely. Nature there just doesn’t behave the way it does anyplace else I’ve ever been. It’s really quite fascinating. It’s also mildly disturbing.
This is a land that sits atop a supervolcano. The caldera is marked clearly on Yellowstone maps. When this volcano erupts again, it will make the Mount St. Helens eruption look like a hiccup. Fortunately it’s not expected to do so for about 10,000 years. In the meantime what we’re left with is basically nature behaving badly with some spectacular results.
According to the NPS webpage for Yellowstone, there are 1,000 to 3,000 minor earthquakes there per year, and they reveal all the activity going on below ground. But there is plenty going on above ground as well. Geysers. Hot Springs. Mudpots, Fumaroles. Travertine Terraces. Colorful algae mats. Some features sound like a dragon breathing, others roar when they erupt. Some stink of Sulfur, and others are so colorful that few cameras can do them justice.
I even got to soak in one area where the aptly named Boiling River meets the icy cold Gardner River. As the currents shifted I was treated to warm and cold water, but was told not to submerge my head because the area was alive with meningitis. Yellowstone is both beautiful and dangerous, and that’s part of the appeal.
What follows are some of the photos I took of the thermal features during my most recent visit. Enjoy!