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