Yellowstone National Park - Sightseeing

9th Jun 2019

The Grand Prismatic Spring

Photo of Yellowstone National Park - Sightseeing by Isha

Ever since learning about geysers and hot springs in the 7th grade, I have wanted to visit Yellowstone national park. 8 long years later, I got the opportunity to visit the enigmatic national park. I visited the park with my family and our itinerary included just sightseeing as first time visitors to the park.

We stayed at Cody, the closest settlement towards the east entrance and would be spending three days exploring the park. We just managed to squeeze in almost all the spots of the park by the end of our three days.

The evening we entered Cody, it snowed at the park. The next morning we drove through an endless canyon finally leading to the east entrance. As soon as we crossed the entrance signboard, a blanket of white snow which looked like vanilla ice-cream greeted us. The drive was surreal. Fresh snow had blanketed everything including the dead and living trees which were still shedding off the snow. The endless dead burnt trees all around the Yellowstone Lake was haunting to look at in the beginning. I may even add a little scary too. But over the course of the next three days I learnt not to let it scare me anymore.

The drive

Photo of Yellowstone National Park, United States by Isha

During our visit, many bison showed themselves to us. Calmly grazing on the meadows they seemed least bothered about the stopping cars on the road nearby. We were also lucky to sight some bear cubs near the Lamar valley as well as outside the limits of the national park as we were exiting from the east entrance.

The bison

Photo of Yellowstone National Park - Sightseeing by Isha

DAY 1 - Our first stop was the mud volcano. The dragon’s mouth was bellowing with steam which looked like fumes coming out of a dragon’s mouth. The churning cauldron seemed like it was growling with chemicals, unpredictably spewing out to scare you. We later visited the picturesque Yellowstone canyon where we got a glimpse of the upper and the lower falls. It looked like the yellow canyons had left just enough space for the water to cut through it. The ribbon like river scraping through the canyons after it falls from a hilly height is a must see. We later returned to the canyon village for a quick lunch and headed towards Mammoth hot springs.

The Canyon and the falls

Photo of Yellowstone National Park - Sightseeing by Isha

The palette spring in the Mammoth hot spring looked like a carefully planned and built artificial fountain by an esteemed architect with a variety of colors. The palette with varied from desert yellow, ivory white and bark brown. Transparent liquid was flowing out from the top like waterfalls. The land near the palette spring looked uninhabitable with remains of trees adorning the space nearby. A wooden walk upward leads to many tinier springs. We could witness the sunset at around 9pm at Yellowstone Lake while returning back to Cody.

The Palette Spring

Photo of Yellowstone National Park - Sightseeing by Isha

DAY 2 – We wanted to explore the southern ring of the park which has all the popular spots. We covered the west thumb group of geysers. As I walked across the wooden boardwalk, the black pool caught my eye. It was without an abyss and was bluer than any blue I have encountered. There were many other simmering tinier systems. Some were nameless and some bore them. All were shades of sky blue with some having crimson-red colored deposits at their edges. I could always spot the remains of trees which once stood confidently at the sight where geology decided otherwise. It became a common sight among all the sightseeing spots.

On the West Thumb

Photo of Yellowstone National Park - Sightseeing by Isha

We later headed for one of the popular spots - the Old Faithful geyser. We reached the geyser almost on time for it to burst open from the earth. We secured ourselves a good position with a clear view and made ourselves comfortable. The geyser, true to its name showed up at the scheduled time to cheerful and applauding onlookers. I got a rather shaky video but at the end of the day, what I saw through my eyes mattered.

Our next stop was the biscuit basin loop which was a small one. The same scenes repeated themselves to me. All colors picked from the same palette but the shades at every sight varied very slightly from one other.

At the Biscuit Loop

Photo of Yellowstone National Park - Sightseeing by Isha

The crowd at the midway geyser basin which houses the grand prismatic spring scared us away to push it to the final day.

DAY – 3 On our final day of the park, we had planned to look at the majesty of the grand prismatic spring which I had been waiting for since middle school. This was the spot we visited the first. We parked our car at the start of the trail from where you could get a bird’s eye view of the grand prismatic spring. The walk took us longer than expected but we could get a clear view of the spring and all of its rainbow colors from top. The view made the unexpected walk worth it. After heading back to the parking lot, we went a little further to get a human’s view of the grand prismatic spring. The spring had lived up to its reputation and my expectation of it. The brown and orange rim, dotted with patches of white lead your eyes to the blue waters which is covered with thick vapours which blocks your eyes from getting a complete view from below. This is what makes the overlook trail worth the effort.

The view from the trail

Photo of Yellowstone National Park - Sightseeing by Isha

There are other smaller springs in the same system. The excelsior geyser crater is completely covered with vapors centered to the middle at the top which looks like an offering to the skies above. A part of the spring flows down to the Firehole River which flows besides it. This is visible from the boardwalk as you walk towards the loop.

The spring from up close

Photo of Yellowstone National Park - Sightseeing by Isha

On our way to Madison, we took the Firehole lake drive. The road was uneven I assume because of the unstable earth below it. We stopped at the great dome geyser not really sure about when it would erupt. But we decided to try luck and waited for some time. Granting our wish, the geyser decided to shoot up some hot water and chemicals out! It lasted a good 5 minutes. After it died down, we headed for lunch, completely satisfied that we got something unexpected, totally out of the blue. After a quick lunch at Madison, we left for Norris basin.

White Dome Geyser

Photo of Yellowstone National Park - Sightseeing by Isha

The Norris geyser basin is a huge and an active system at the park. After glancing at the museum, I entered the first loop situated right at the exit of the museum. While walking around the loop, I could observe many active geysers startling the tourists who hustled to get their phones to record it. I was one among them. I was lucky to witness a couple of geysers which suddenly came to life. We later learnt that the geysers are irregular in nature and we were indeed very lucky to have witnessed it. As I continued the loop on the wooden boardwalk, there were many systems, full of life all along. It became difficult for me to decide which one deserved my phone’s attention.

After finishing the loop, the basin had another smaller one located at the opposite direction of the museum. A ranger had made us promise to him that we would see the steamboat geyser before we left. We had to fulfill that promise. We had learnt from him that the geyser was dormant until the previous year when it burst to life suddenly and unexpectedly. We reached the steamboat geyser and it was indeed very active. At intervals of about 5 minutes, it spewed chemicals into the surface of the earth at varying heights. The formerly dormant geyser had begun to sniff the life out of the thick vegetation. We spent quite some time observing the mercurial geyser. It was a rewarding watch. This was our last geyser before we left the park forever. We promised ourselves to return to the park someday to look at the constantly changing earth.

Part of the Norris System

Photo of Yellowstone National Park - Sightseeing by Isha