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September 25, 2012
The two RV Gypsies at
sign: Yellowstone National Park

The geothermal areas of Yellowstone include several geyser basins in Yellowstone National Park as well as other geothermal features such as hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles. The number of thermal features in Yellowstone is estimated at 10,000 plus 200 to 250 geysers erupt in Yellowstone each year, making it the place with the highest concentration of active geysers in the world, thanks to its location in an ancient active caldera. Many of these features build up sinter, geyserite, or travertine deposits around and within them.

 

The Lewis Falls are located on the Lewis River in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States. The falls drop approximately 30 feet and are easily seen from the road, halfway between the south entrance to the park and Grant Village.

Lewis Falls at Yellowstone National Park
Lewis Falls at Yellowstone National Park

Karen Duquette by Lewis Falls in Yellowstone National Park

Karen Duquette by Lewis Falls at Yellowstone National Park
Karen Duquette by Lewis Falls at Yellowstone National Park

View from the other side of the bridge at Lewis Falls

View from the other side of the bridge at Lewis Falls
View from the other side of the bridge at Lewis Falls

Driving on, the two RV Gypsies crossed over the Continental Divide

Continental Divide sign

Wildlife

wildlife - elk
wildlife - raven
wildlife = elk
wildlife - elk

West Thumb Geyser Basin - Yellowstone National Park; On the west thumb of Yellowstone Lake (the largest lake at high elevation in North America), this very easy 0.7 mile trail/boardwalk makes a loop and passes several hot springs and pools.

 

West Thumb Geyser Basin is one of the smallest geyser basins in Yellowstone yet its location along the shore of Yellowstone Lake ranks it as the most scenic. West Thumb derived its name from the thumb-like projection of Yellowstone Lake and the name was given by the 1870 Washburn Expedition. It was also known as Hot Spring Camp. West Thumb has less geyser activity than other basins. But West Thumb, for its size, has it all - hot springs, pools, mud pots, fumaroles and lake shore geysers.

Since the mid 1970s, West Thumb has decreased in thermal activity. Some temperatures have cooled in the basin allowing large colonies of algae and cyanobacteria to grow. As a result, large newly-formed microbial mats flourish on the run-off channels and along the edges of pools.

steam vents

West Thumb Geyser Basin - steam vents
West Thumb Geyser Basin - steam vents
West Thumb Geyser Basin - steam vents
Lee duquette on the boardwalk at West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone

West Thumb Geyser Basin - Abyss Pool

Temperature 172°F Dimensions 30x57 feet. Depth 53 feet. Abyss Pool is a colorful and interesting pool in the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Abyss is the DEEPEST POOL known in Yellowstone and received its name for its abyss-like depth. The dark green-colored water gives the illusion of a bottomless pool. Vandalism may have changed this pool's temperature. Coins and other debris thrown in have caused the vent to plug. The reduced spring flow also reduced the pool temperature, allowing abundant algae growth along the edge and run-off channels. The extensive microbial mats now support ephydrid flies, spiders and killdeers. An unusual eruption in 1987 caused the pool to surge and temporarily destroyed the microbial mats.

West Thumb Geyser Basin - Abyss Pool
West Thumb Geyser Basin - Abyss Pool

West Thumb Geyser Basin - Black Pool

Temperature 132°F Dimensions 40x75 feet. Depth 30 feet. Black Pool is one of the largest springs in the West Thumb Geyser Basin. The dark-colored water is the combination of the natural, transparent blue of the water and the orange algae lining of the pool. The low temperature of the pool is responsible for the abundant growth of the orange-colored microbial mats. Algae and cyanobacteria in combination with sinter deposits have created coral-like formations on the sides of the pool but these are visible for only a few feet. The pH of Black Pool is a slightly alkaline 7.8.

West Thumb Geyser Basin - Black Pool
West Thumb Geyser Basin - Black Pool
West Thumb Geyser Basin - Black Pool

West Thumb Geyser Basin - Blue Funnel Spring

Temperature 172-182°F Dimensions 18 feet diameter. Blue Funnel Spring is a small, blue concentric pool located in the center of West Thumb Geyser Basin. When one walks past this spring, its vent appears to move and reposition. This phenomenon is not unique to Yellowstone's thermal features, but it is easily observed in Blue Funnel Spring. It is an optical illusion caused by refraction. It results when light traveling through the air strikes the surface of water at an oblique angle. One side of the wave front enters the water before the other and is retarded-since light travels more slowly in water than in air-while the other side continues to move at its original speed until it too reaches the water surface. As a result, the light ray bends in the denser water and is refracted, giving the illusion that an object has a different location than it actually has.

West Thumb Geyser Basin - Blue Funnel Spring

West Thumb Geyser Basin - Ephedra Spring

West Thumb Geyser Basin - Ephedra Spring

Hot Spring Runoff into Lake Yellowstone at West Thumb Geyser Basin

West Thumb Geyser Basin - Big Cone
West Thumb Geyser Basin - Big Cone

Yellowstone Lake Facts: Elevation 7,733 feet - Area: 137.1 square miles - shoreline 141 miles - width 14 miles - Length 20 miles - Average depth: about 140 feet - Maximum depth 410 feet - Average summer temperature 45 Degrees F

 

There is a lot more to see at West Thumb Geyser Basin, but the two RV Gypsies and other visitors were turned back by a ranger because the ranger didn't want anyone getting any closer to the elk that were in the area.

 

Driving from the West Thumb Geyser Basin to Kepler Cascades, the two RV Gypsies crossed over the Continental Divide two more times, for a total of three times so far.

Continental Divide
Continental Divide

Kepler Cascades is a waterfall on the Firehole River in southwestern Yellowstone National Park. The cascades are located approximately 2.5 miles south of Old Faithful. The cascades drop approximately 150 feet over multiple drops. The longest drop is 50 feet. The cascades are located very near to and visible from the Old Faithful.

Lee Duquette at Kepler Cascades at Yellowstone National Par
Kepler Cascades at Yellowstone National Park

White Dome Geyser is a conspicuous cone-type geyser located only a few feet from Firehole Lake Drive. Its 12-foot-high geyserite cone is one of the largest in the park. Its eruptions are unpredictable, but generally occur with intervals ranging from 15 minutes to 3 hours. Intervals between 20 and 35 minutes are most common. Eruptions typically last 2 to 3 minutes and reach heights of about 30 feet, the maximum height being attained early in the eruption.

White Dome Geyser is a significant feature that was used as an emblem by the old Yellowstone Library and Museum Association, now the Yellowstone Association. White Dome is the largest member of the "White Dome Group," a cluster of features bisected by Firehole Lake Drive that includes at least six other geysers as well as several non-eruptive springs.

White Dome Geyser

Firehole Lake - and the Young Hopeful Geyser

Firehole Lake
Young Hopeful Geyser

Also at Firestone Lake is the Artesia Geyser, a perpetual geyser that never stops ejecting water from at least one of its two cones, usually no more than 5 feet high.

Artesia Geyser
Artesia Geyser
Artesia Geyser
Artesia Geyser
look below

Next comes Old Faithful at Yellowstone National ParkPlease continue on to page 2 - Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park plus other activities in the Upper Geyser Basin