It was another long and grand trip into Yellowstone National Park. This time we did the entire southern half of the “figure 8”. We started with a waterfall (Firehole Falls) and then took in one of the geyser basins that we hadn’t toured with Old Faithful – this time it was Midway Geyser Basin. This basin has two huge features. One is Grand Prismatic Spring which at about 400 feet across is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone. The other is Excelsior Geyser located right next to and pumps 4,000 gallons a minute of boiling hot water from a large pool over a rock terrace it has created and into the Firehole River.
From there we caught another waterfall (Kepler Cascades). We continued up across the continental divide only to go down into somewhat of a valley, then back up over the continental divide a second time. We saw some small alpine ponds full of lily pads that were in full bloom.
As we headed toward Yellowstone lake, we noted that there was another Geyser basin at the West Thumb of the Lake. We actually thought about passing this one up. After awhile all these thermal features have to start looking the same, right? Moreover, how could there be an impressive geyser field right next to a huge and cold alpine lake that would have to cool the area? Well, we were there so we went ahead and toured it. Once again, Yellowstone did not disappoint. No way had we seen it all. There were some of the clearest hot spring pools we had seen yet with great apparent depth to them. And there were bubbling hot springs even out into the lake itself.
Nope, this wasn’t the end of the day yet. We drove north from the lake to an area that has a ….. mud volcano, Dragon’s Mouth Spring which belches steam and hot water out of a cave-like opening, a giant mud pot, and a huge sulfur caldron.
And just for some added beauty, we drove through the Hayden Valley, with perhaps the lushest meadows in the Park on each side of the Yellowstone River and cruised by this buffalo specimen running right along the side of the road.