Yellowstone National Park is a place where natural beauty surrounds you. It is a place where Mountains meet the skies and the trees grow like grass. It is a place where waterfalls, mountains, and canyons can be captured all in one photo. Never before have I seen a place with such crystal clear water as there is in Yellowstone. The water is so untainted that it could be drunk straight from one of the streams or rivers. Animals that are rarely seen in any other part of the world can be watched thriving in their natural habitat. It is the only place I have heard of where if you slip you can either die of hypothermia, or horrendous burns.
Yellowstone sits in the caldera of a massive super volcano, which has been dormant for thousands of years. Some scientists believe that the Yellowstone super volcano was so powerful that it could have been what caused the demise of the dinosaurs. Yellowstone sits on a massive magma chamber, covered by a thin sheet of crust. In some parts of Yellowstone, the crust is so thin and delicate, that a pebble could break through it.
My first trip to Yellowstone was magical. Never before had I seen any of the thermal features that Yellowstone is famous for. The hot-springs provided a vibrant color display. They are my personal favorite thermal feature in Yellowstone. The water in the hot springs is usually crystal clear. They are so clear that it is easy to see feet down inside the hot spring. The hot springs are very delicate. A temperature change that can be caused by something as small as a person making a wish and flipping a coin inside the hot spring, can cause the colors to dull, or change completely. Hot springs get their colors from bacteria that thrive in the hot hell-like conditions the thermal areas provide. Most hot springs are an aquamarine blue, but they can be multi-colored with beautiful combinations such as green and yellow or blue and orange. Some hot springs are even a pearly white color. Hot Springs and thermal features specifically in the Mammoth geyser Basin are quite different from most hot springs. In Mammoth, amazing formations can be seen.
Geysers are another amazing feature that can be seen it Yellowstone. My mother was lucky to see the last major eruption of steamboat geyser in the 1960’s. Other geysers such as Old Faithful have very predictable eruption patterns. The first time I saw Old Faithful erupt, I was astonished by how high the water and steam rose above the ground.
Steam vents and mud-pots are the two other thermal features in Yellowstone. The steam vents could be heard hissing and roaring from the ground, the mud pots churned and boiled, bubbling slowly. The viscous liquid would boil almost in slow motion. The mud-pots sometimes had swirled mixtures of light and dark grey mud, moving gracefully like a ribbon throughout the mud-pots. Amazingly, bison hoof prints could be seen in these areas.
No lava flows can be seen in Yellowstone, despite it being the largest super volcano in the world. The thermal areas, however, are signs that the volcano is still very much alive. The thermal areas look like desolate wastelands, horribly similar to Chernobyl after its nuclear plant meltdown. No plants live or grow in the thermal areas. Trees can sometimes be seen standing, frozen in time in the thermal areas, dead, their roots crippled by the heat and chemicals in the hot springs until deemed worthless. The branches of the trees droop, giving them a haunted appearance. Fallen trees are consumed by streams of boiling, bacteria-laden water. Every thermal feature in Yellowstone gives off a rancid steamy combination of sulfur and other volcanic gases. There is nothing quite like a gust of wind forcing warm, blinding, eye-burning steam around you that has been compared to the smell of rotten eggs or human excrement.
Not far beyond the thermal areas, however, trees grow and fresh, clear water runs. This may be another reason I love Yellowstone so much. In the blink of an eye, the terrain can change completely.
Animals thrive in Yellowstone. Bears, elk, deer, beavers, wolves, bald eagles, ground squirrels, marmots, buffalo, and many more animals have been spotted in Yellowstone. Wildflowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors grow in Yellowstone. Wildfires have left their mark on Yellowstone, leaving fields of burned trees. At first it made me feel bad that all of the trees had been charred, but I looked down the ground, and saw small new pine trees growing. The forest was being reborn.
Yellowstone is the type of place that makes you feel small and insignificant. The power of nature and the beauty of Earth are amazing. It makes you question yourself. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Yellowstone leaves you with an awed feeling. No place on Earth could ever compare to the beauty seen in Yellowstone.