Yellowstone is one of the most geothermally active places the world. We explored many areas in the park featuring geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots. Joe, being the kid at heart that he is, kept wanting to touch the run off at all the geysers and hot springs we visited to test the temperature of the water. If he hadn’t been worried about flagrantly breaking rules (there were warning signs posted everywhere) in front of our kids, I think he would have done it.
Here are our 3 favorite geothermal sites:
#1 – Grand Prismatic Springs.
We had not heard of this site prior to our trip, but it surprised us and ended up being the most interesting. The kids weren’t happy that Joe and I insisted on hiking the 5+ mile Fairy Falls hike which includes a great view of Prismatic Springs from an adjacent hill. Sydney was uncharacteristically the most unhappy about this hike. On this trip, we’ve discovered that Sydney is deathly afraid of being attacked by a bear. I told her she just needs to be able to outrun anyone else in the hiking group… which she almost certainly could do! She was so excited when a sign informed us the hike was closed just past the Overlook. Later we learned a woman had been attacked by a bear on that trail 2 days ago (!).
The view from the Overlook is well worth the walk. The size of the hot spring (larger than a football field) and the bright colors (bright blue in the middle and bring yellow, orange, red on the edges) were impressive.
#2 – Old Faithful.
The kids and I continued to sleep in the RV while Joe woke early and drove to Old Faithful from our campground near the West Entrance to Yellowstone so we could arrive before the anticipated crowds. When we showed up, there was a bison laying in the grass between the viewing area and the geyser. We were all wondering what it would do when the geyser erupted – it didn’t move an inch. The geyser eruption was higher and lasted longer than I expected…it exceeded expectations. And we never experienced big crowds.
#3 – Mammoth Hot Springs.
This was another really cool site – large, terraced limestone/ travertine deposits from multiple hot springs…it was so different from anything else we’d ever seen. Unfortunately, we visited this at the end of a hot day and had two dehydrated kids with us – Alexander and Piper were miserable the entire time. Sydney, on the other hand, loved living the life of an “only child” as Joe and I did some additional exploring with her at this location.
(only because Joe will whine if I’m not able to include these nice photos).
#4 – Norris Geyser Basin. Includes Steamboat Geyser which is the largest geyser at Yellowstone but it erupts infrequently and unpredictably. It was barely sputtering when we saw it. Joe would have ranked this in the “top 3” .. tons of activity and amazing looking springs, pools and mudholes…
#5 – Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
OK, this isn’t really a geothermal feature — but it’s one of the most beautiful, iconic places in Yellowstone… and it warrants mention for sure!
We spent most of a day exploring this canyon, including a hike past Artist Point to Lily Pad lake.. where we were (1) rained on and (2) attacked by mosquitos. It’s amazing how fast our happy kids will go from goofing around taking photos of each other to .. um … whining about how miserable everything is. (For the record.. it was the mosquitos and not the rain that tilted some of them negative!)
We loved Yellowstone! Can’t believe it took us so long to get here. But .. after five great days in the park (and in the Montana area outside) .. we’re ready to move on and see the magnificent Grand Tetons…