Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring

Boardwalk past Excelsior Geyser

Boardwalk past Excelsior Geyser

November 12th, 2020

Picking up from yesterday’s daily post, today we’re taking a walk around Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring. To understand what an anomaly the spring is in the context of the surrounding landscape, it’s helpful to look at the aerial map view:

The spectrum of colors catches the eye, and the white deposits of the silica-rich water extend all the way to the Firehole River where runoff from the spring and geyser meets the larger water flow. To see the purest display of colors, it’s best to visit on a hot sunny day when the sky reflects in the pools and steam evaporates quickly from the air. We visited on a fall afternoon with cloudy skies, making a moody experience of muted colors with an occasional pop of blue or rust.

Excelsior Geyser

Excelsior Geyser

Excelsior Geyser

Excelsior Geyser

Excelsior Geyser

Excelsior Geyser

Excelsior Geyser Crater is the first feature along the boardwalk. The geyser is calm these days, with a beautiful azure color. Its last large eruption occurred in 1985 when it spewed boiling water into the air for nearly 48 hours. Even at rest, Excelsior releases a daily volume of water equal to nine Olympic-size swimming pools.

Boardwalk to Grand Prismatic Spring

Boardwalk to Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring sits farther up the boardwalk. The spill of the spring flows gently downhill across shallow terraces built of mineral deposits from the water. Strange colors and textures break through occasionally, and bison hooves mark where the giants of the park have no doubt enjoyed the sauna-like qualities surrounding the spring. The water flowing from it is 160° F/71° C and flows at a rate of more than 550 gallons/2,000 liters per minute.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Texture of the flow path

Texture of the flow path

Texture of the flow path

Texture of the flow path

Bison hoofprints

Bison hoofprints

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring appears at the curve in the boardwalk. Somewhat obscured by steam, its rainbow of colors fades in and out with the light. The spring is enormous… a giant cauldron simmering from the inner fire of Mother Earth, measuring 370 ft/112 m in diameter and reaching a depth of 120 ft/36 m. Grand Prismatic is the third largest spring in the world.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Opal Pool and Turquoise Pool sit just beyond the next curve, their depth apparent within the rusty circular outlines. The forest grows just a few steps beyond these pools of hot water.

Opal Pool

Opal Pool

Opal Pool

Opal Pool

In addition to the boardwalk around all the hydrothermal features here, there’s path along the south side where a short climb up the hill leads to an overlook of the entire site. A trip for another time and a sunnier day.

Tomorrow we’ll visit the big one… the famous one… Old Faithful.

See you then!
Kelly

Post of the Day: Adding a bit of light to the darkness as we get through the pandemic together. This series features travel photos from my archives, shared with you while staying close to home.

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