Y is for Yellowstone


Today is the second to the last day of the A to Z Challenge! So for today, Y is for Yellowstone. Yellowstone National Park is located in the state of Wyoming in the US. It was established in 1872 and is the first US National Park. It’s famous for wildlife and geothermal features, as it sits on a hot spot with lots of volcanic activity. It’s also a supervolcano that has erupted at least 3 times in the past 2.1 million years!

Old Faithful at Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone National Park – photo by kei

The volcanic activity underground creates many hydrothermal features, such as the world famous Old Faithful Geyser. There are also fumaroles with dry steam, bubbling mud pots, and bright blue hot springs. There are several geyser basins throughout the park, and since the entire park is on a volcano you are never far from a geothermal feature. This means that you should be careful when walking through geothermal areas, stay on marked paths, and never try to touch the hot springs.

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake – photo by kei

Yellowstone Lake is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in elevation in North America. The lake formed in the partially collapsed caldera of the most recent eruption (about 640,000 years ago). Outfitters offer fishing trips out on the lake, and there are a few trails around the lake.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – photo by kei

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone formed by erosion of the landscape by the Yellowstone River. The Grand Canyon lies just past the Yellowstone Falls. The beautiful colors of the volcanic rocks eroded by the river have made this a subject of many landscape paintings such as that of Thomas Moran.

Mammoth Hot Springs at Yellowstone

Mammoth Hot Springs at Yellowstone National Park – photo by kei

Mammoth Hot Springs is a large hot springs complex in the northern part of Yellowstone National Park. The colors of the complex consists of calcium carbonate travertine deposited out of solution from the water that flows through the hot springs. Mammoth is accessible throughout most of the winter, even though most of the other roads through the park are shut down.

Bison in Yellowstone

Young Bison Calves in Yellowstone National Park – photo by kei

In the spring and early summer, you have the best chance of seeing baby animals. In the spring the park comes back to life, and the roads begin to open. The crowds are not at peak in the spring, as they are in the summer.

Bears at Yellowstone

Mother Grizzly Bear & 3 Cubs at Yellowstone National Park – photo by kei

Even though the wildlife is amazing and the baby animals are incredibly cute, it’s important to keep your distance. Wild animals can be dangerous! The general rule is to stay 100 yards (or 92 m) from bears and wolves, and 25 yards (or 22 m) from other animals (bison, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, deer, coyotes). For ease of estimation, 100 yards or 92 m is approximately the equivalent of a football field (American and the worldwide version of football).

Since today is Photo Friday, there is a bonus photo for the Abstract theme. Getting up close and personal with the hot springs, you will find a spectrum of colors within the water and mud. The variety of colors stems from the varieties of thermophilic (heat-loving) bacteria that thrive in the geothermal features. The green, brown, and orange mats are cyanobacteria that can live in water up to 167 F or 73 C. At hotter temperatures the bacterial mats are green or yellow, and in relatively cooler temperatures the mats turn brown or orange. There are many other colors produced by thermophilic bacteria, creating the amazing geothermal landscape in Yellowstone.

Abstract - Yellowstone Cyanobacteria

Cyanobacteria in the hot springs at Yellowstone – photo by kei

Have you visited Yellowstone? Or another famous geothermal area? Let me know in the comments!

10 thoughts on “Y is for Yellowstone

  1. hcyip

    Good post and pics. I’ve heard it’s risky to be around mother bears and their cubs so you must have been very, very far away when you took the pics of the grizzlies?


    • Thank you! Yes, I was quite far away from the bears! There was a huge crowd and the poor park rangers had to keep herding people as the bears walked around. I made sure to pay attention to the rangers, and I brought along my trusty zoom lens! You should be at least a football field (100 m) away from predators in the parks.


      • hcyip

        Ok, that sounds much safer with rangers on site and a crowd. I would stay even further away than 100m if I ever saw a bear, ha.


  2. The park is on my to do list when I have the chance to travel to USA. Let’s see when I/ we will be able as it is a pain for Chinese to get the visa as we have to provide all, really all info about our life plus all our social media will be checked out (also private messages…)


      • Indeed they do. Last year a German girl wanted to visit her relatives during summer holidays for six weeks. Over Facebook messenger she told her cousin she could help out babysitting once a while. So when she landed in the USA officers came and interrogated her for several hours because of planning on working illegally ….in the end she had to fly back to Germany (on her own costs) and got a lifetime ban on entering the states. Not only was this on the news in Germany but she is also a cousin of a friend of mine…


        • Wow, the US immigration laws are very strict… It’s true that you should be careful what you say on social media, but I didn’t think that babysitting for family was work!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah it was a crazy story, specially as it as just mentioned once in the hole thing. To make matters worse is that this girl herself could apply for US citizenship due to her heritage but they denied that as well now for her as a “lifetime punishment”….(grandfather is Navajo)


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