My second full day in the park, I went in the other direction from West Yellowstone, east to Madison Junction, then south, past Firehole Falls:
A bit more of a real waterfall than Kootenai
And on to Fountain Paintpots:
From a distance
And close up.
Clepsydra Geyser (clepsydra is Greek for water clock, or so I’m told), which really isn’t a geyser these days, but more of a perpetual spouter — one of the definitions of a geyser is that the water spurts up periodically, not constantly, is along the Paintpots boardwalk:
Clepsydra Geyser, and almost off the edge of the photo on the right, Fountain Geyser’s vent.
I passed by most of the geyser basins today, on my way to West Thumb and Lake Yellowstone:
West Thumb hot springs.
Aren’t those shades of blue absolutely incredible? Lake Yellowstone is the largest lake at this altitude or above in the U.S., and those mountains in the background of the picture below are the Absarokas (ab-SAR-o-kas). The reason West Thumb
is named West Thumb is that the early explorers thought Yellowstone Lake was shaped like a hand (a very misshapen hand, but you can sort of see where they were coming from if you look at a map
). There’s a nice set of boardwalks there leading past the hot pools and down to the lake to some partially-submerged thermal features, the most famous of which is called Fishing Cone:
It’s said that people used to catch fish in the lake, then take them to Fishing Cone and dip them in the boiling water, still on the line, to cook them. Doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it?
After a picnic at West Thumb that did not involve boiled whole fish, I drove a few miles down to Grant Village, the newest development in Yellowstone, built back in the fifties and sixties to try to divert people from the more ecologically-sensitive (and bear favorite) area near the lake’s outlet up north. It didn’t succeed, but Grant Village (named after the president who signed the law creating Yellowstone as a national park) is the home of a visitor center housing an exhibit that tells all about the fires in 1988.
I’d seen a lot of the destruction the fires caused in the previous two days, so it was good to learn about some of the good things that resulted from them — rejuvenation of the forest, more fodder for grazing animals, and apparently the best wildflower displays the park had ever seen for the first couple of years after. I wish I’d been able to see that.
On my way west again, I stopped to get my second view of Old Faithful, this time remembering my camera:
Old Faithful with rainbow
I went inside of the Old Faithful Inn
afterwards looking for ice cream, and wound up taking a historic tour of the building, which was fascinating.
An idea niggled at the back of my brain as I listened to the docent, but I thought, nah. A historical novel set in the park? So I left it there. For the time being, anyway, and headed back towards West Yellowstone for the night.
And just south of Madison Junction, I experienced my first animal jam [g]. When bison are on the road, some of them weighing more than your car, you wait: