Sunday, December 30, 2012

West Yellowstone waterfalls

After an adventurous and action packed day we reached West Yellowstone for our night halt of day 3. We checked into Clubhouse Inn where we were given comfortable rooms to rest our weary selves. Then we had dinner at China Town a popular but crowded Chinese Restaurant. In fact there were busloads of Chinese tourists who had been chasing us/preceding us throughout the day during our visits to various tourist spots. These groups also halted at W.Yellowstone. Fortunately we soon could find a table for 4 and settled down comfortably to enjoy out Chinese meal. But soon hordes of Chinese tourists started trooping in. Looked like these guys had not had  decent Chinese food in a long time. Soon large queues had formed and there was a lot of chattering in Mandarin - ordering food and also exchanging notes on the events that transpired that day. Since there were few tables most of them were compelled to carry away food packs. Next morning we got up early and after a quick break fast took off towards West Yellowstone Waterfalls. Enroute we sighted more bison herds and elk groups. We were also fortunate to see a couple of Bald Eagles perched atop a tall pine tree. The waterfalls and the surrounding landscape was spectacular.
Club House Inn where we spent the night
We captured this magnificent beast on the way to W.Yellowstone Falls
Mira breaks into song on arrival at falls area
Directions to Lower & Upper Falls
Distant View of the Falls
Yellowstone River
Closer view of the falls
Yellowstone River
Mother & Daughter happily posing
River above & Falls below
Rock formation at yellowstone basin
The Grand Canyon of  Yellowstone River- Above & below.
The Grand Canyon of  Yellowstone River slices through an ancient hydro thermal basin. The basin developed in rhyolithic lava and ash that flowed into the Yellowstone Caldera about 500,000 years ago. The river carved this spectacular canyon through the hardened lava and welded ash.Hot areas and steam vents still exist here.They allow heat,gases and hot water to escape from the underground Yellowstone volcano.

Family photo at West Yellowstone Falls. Video of the falls below.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Midway Geyser Basin

Our next destination was the Midway Geyser Basin comprising of Excelsior geyser, Grand Prismatic Spring, Opal pool & Turquoise pool.We discovered the hydro-thermal wonders along a fully accessible half mile board walk trail. The Grand prismatic spring is the largest and one of Yellowstone's most brilliant & colorful hot springs.Its massive expanse stretches approx. 200 ft across. Due to the high temperature of the water - 160 deg.Fahrenheit- the spring is often cloaked in steam.Deep beneath, magma from an active volcano heats water that rises to the surface through fissures in the rock. The result is a hot spring that pours almost 500 gallons of hot water each minute into the Firehole River.The intense blue color in the center of this hot spring is due to sunlight being scattered by fine particles suspended in the water. The yellow, orange and brown colors encircling the hot spring are caused by Thermophiles or heat loving micro-organisms - these microbes contain colorful pigments that allow them to draw energy from the sunlight and thrive in the harsh conditions of the hot springs. Three videos have been uploaded. Please enjoy these panoramic views.
Entering the Midway Geyser Basin
The Firehole River
Hot Springs water pouring into the Firehole River
Bridge crossing across the river

Thick cloak of steam
Spectacular View of Grand Prismatic Spring
Colorful heat loving Micro-Organisms or Thermophiles

 Colorful heat loving Micro-Organisms or Thermophiles

The Opal Pool
The Turquoise Pool

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mammoth to W.Yellowstone

After Mammoth Hot Springs we headed towards West Yellowstone where we planned our night halt on day 3 of our tour. It was late afternoon and we saw more amazing sights and spectacular views en-route.Some of these incredible pics can be seen above & below. I have also posted a video of a wayside geyser spouting steam and resulting ice crystals formed due to sudden cooling.
Doesn't this rock formation resemble a huge mammoth with long years ? Mammoth is a Giant Beast that lived in the Ice Age (now extinct)
Side view of the Mammoth
Pine Forest
We saw this huge bull elk with huge horns hiding in the tall grass - A large crowd was watching this magnificent creature from the road side and clicking away. The elk continued to relax unperturbed
Ice crystal formation in the tree - result of sudden cooling of steam emerging from wayside geyser

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mammoth Hot Springs

Atop Mammoth Springs
 After our morning drive and the trek on the Northern Range Tour we returned to Mammoth Hot Springs hotel for a leisurely lunch. Next we headed towards Mammoth Hot Springs which is a short drive from the Hotel. Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine.Travertine is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs. Travertine often has a fibrous or concentric appearance and exists in white, tan, and cream-colored varieties. It was created over thousands of years as hot water from the spring cooled and deposited calcium carbonate.
The hot water that feeds Mammoth comes from Norris Geyser Basin after traveling underground via a fault line that runs through limestone and roughly parallel to the Norris-to-Mammoth road. The limestone is the source of the calcium carbonate.  The Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces are a popular feature in Yellowstone. They are sometimes referred to as the White Mountain. The step like terraces form as heated water moves along the morris Mammoth Fault. The hot water carries dissolved calcium and bi carbonate to the surface of the terraces where carbon di oxide escapes as gas and the carbonate combines with calcium to precipitate as travertine. Shallow circulation along this corridor allows Norris' superheated water to slightly cool before surfacing at Mammoth, generally at about 170 °F (80 °C).Algae  living in the warm pools have tinted the travertine shades of brown, orange, red, and green.
White Wilderness
You can see the steam billowing in the air - above and below


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