Ever since I discovered about national parks, I knew I have to visit Yellowstone. Everything I read or heard about this place was so amazing and gave goosebumps. Yellowstone is a 3500 square mile national park that houses variety of animals and geothermal features all of which sit on top of a super active volcanic zone. If we go by rumors, Yellowstone is overdue by hundreds of years for another eruption!
Now, this post is not a guide or how-to-plan kind of information. With this post I simply want to share my most favorite spots of Yellowstone, as different as they may be from popular Yellowstone places-to-visit lists.
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Yellowstone is loaded with huge number of Geysers (pronunciation – gai-zr). A geyser is a vent in Earth’s surface that periodically ejects a column of hot water and steam. Even a small geyser is an amazing phenomenon; however, some geysers have eruptions that blast thousands of gallons of boiling-hot water up to a few hundred feet in the air (geology.com).
This hot spring water that makes these geysers is extensively used in skincare products to relieve sensitive skin owing to its tremendous healing and soothing properties. This spring water constantly emits fumes in contact with atmosphere. As Yellowstone is full of these geysers each of which emitting fumes, it almost feels like that the entire area is on fire, although, without any flames! This place is beautiful to an extent where words cannot describe justifiably!
Let’s explore more aspects of this magical place as we discuss some of the best places to visit here. This is the list of spots that struck me the most out of the million beautiful spots in this entire area.
- Old and Faithful
Old and Faithful is the most popular geyser that Yellowstone is known to house. This amazing geothermal beauty erupts in an approx. interval of 90 minutes spewing out hot spring water with such high steam pressure that makes the water go up to 130-140 feet up in the air. The eruptions last for 1.5-5 minutes. It erupts almost 20 times a day and is equally beautiful every time. We waited 30 minutes for it to erupt and every second of that wait was so worth.
- West Thumb
The West Thumb Geyser basin, as I feel, is the most underrated spots of Yellowstone. This place is my personal favorite. This area was formed due to a volcanic explosion almost 15000 years ago and gets its heat from underlying magma. It’s an all blue area surrounded by various blue geysers, blue sky and blue waters of vast Yellowstone lake. It was so mesmerizing to be in the presence of such beauty of nature. I could go back to Yellowstone just for west thumb. It has many geysers, big and small on one side and the lake on the other side of the boardwalk. Some of the geothermal features extend into the lake due to close proximity. Due to warmth from geysers, you can spot animals like bears and elks here.
- Grand Prismatic Spring
This is by far the most spectacular and magnificent geyser that Yellowstone owns. It is also the third largest hot spring in the world, as deep as a 10 story building. Apart from its size, it is known for beautiful colors it has, more like a rainbow in itself. The colors are due to different bacteria surrounding the spring water. The best way to enjoy Grand Prismatic Spring in it’s full beauty is to take a hike that’s a little too steep but short. The overlook at the end of that hike gives a you a beautiful view of this amazing geyser.
- Lamar Valley
This valley is home for a variety of wildlife. You take a slow drive in this beautiful natural valley and you get to see some amazing animals here and there. While elks, bison, deer and coyotes are easy to spot, star of the show remains bear. Yellowstone is inhabited by large number of black, brown as well as grizzly bears. Having encounter with even one is considered worth enough to visit Yellowstone, we were fortunate to have encountered bears 4 times. That’s right! There is so much of a curiosity for bears in this area, I have kind of developed an interest to learn more and more about this furry animal.
Lamar valley is an extremely beautiful valley which has tall dense trees, water creeks, hilly terrain all of which together make it a great home for all these animals. It is a kind of place you see in books and paintings which has all aspects of natural beauty and makes you feel you’re in an era with no modernization! The best time to visit this valley is either at dawn or at dusk. That is when the animals come out and there are chances of spotting them. The valley is also at it’s peak beauty at these times.
- Tower Falls
These are 2 falls made by the same flow of water. They differ due to the height the fall from. Both the falls are extremely beautiful. While one joins a wide open river, the other makes it was through huge mountains which is a heavenly view.
Norris Geyser Basin
Norris geyser basin is basically a 1.5 mile walk on the boardwalk that takes you close to most of the geysers here. It is a good walk where you can stop wherever you want to and read more about each geyser. It houses one of the tallest active geyser – Steamboat geyser.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth hot springs are must visit spot of Yellowstone as they are different from any other geothermal areas in this place. It is a huge but very slow deposit of soft limestone rock emerging along with the hot spring water coming out from earth. When this water passing through magma chamber interacts with carbon dioxide, it turns acidic. This acidic water then dissolves some limestone on it’s way up. This way, limestone gets to move and spread along with water. This entire phenomena over past decades gave us this huge and beautiful formation.
Just wanted to include these as they differ from other geysers. Instead of thermal spring water, these geysers contain hot boiling mud. the sound of erupting mud is much thicker and dense than that of spring water. The sulfur smell that resides in the entire Yellowstone area due to the fumes is stronger in mud geyser areas.
While mud geysers have their own beauty, a very curious geyser called Dragon’s Mouth Spring is located adjacent to the mud geyser and it stands out due to its built and the noise it makes. It has a cave like mouth from where the water and gases constantly keep coming out. Due to its closed inners, it constantly has roaring noises coming due to hot water gushing against the walls with high pressure. It almost feels as if there is a dragon inside of this cave!
Even after all these attractions, there numerous other beautiful spots to cover in Yellowstone like fountain paint pots and fishing sites which can keep you busy and mesmerized in your entire trip.
Yellowstone is one of the most amazing and beautiful places I have been to. If given a chance to go again, I’d go in a heartbeat! Hope you liked this post and got to know something about this heavenly place if you didn’t know already.
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“To Travel is to Live” – Hans Christian Andersen
A | XOXO
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