Yellowstone Nationalpark – bisons everywhere.
Yellowstone national park was founded on March 1st in 1872 and is the first and with the oldest national park in the world. In 1978 UNESCO declared Yellowstone as world nature heritage.
The name of the park may be very confusing at once since there is not a single stone that is yellow. The origin of the name is the Yellowstone River which flows through the park.
Yellowstone is for the biggest part located in Wyoming but parts are also located in Montana and Idaho.
The park in known for its geothermal springs, geysers, mud holes and wild animals. You can see bisons, waipitis, grizzly bears and wolfs here. On our trip we mainly saw bisons and some waipitis. The animals were everything but shy. They walk in the middle of the roads which often stopped the traffic. Sometimes they come really close to the car which made my heart rate go up by a lot. Bisons have huge heads and have no fear to stick those through the open windows of cars. When you enter the park and pay the fee of $30 you will also get a paper with safety tips that preach to stay away from these big animals because they are dangerous. That turns out to be really difficult since the animals apparently want to cuddle with the cars. Nevertheless, that is an experience I would not want to miss out on. When will ever see bisons again or in other words where else would I find bisons?!
We started our route from the west entrance in Montana. Attention: There is no signal in the park. In front of the west entrance are some hotels, restaurants and Fast Food Chains like McDonald’s. You should use your time here to do some research on the most important things like the hotel address or everything that is important for the further day. And really important: don’t forget to tell your friends and family that they won’t be able to reach you that say…We all know our moms.
We saw the following sightseeing points in the order that I listed them here.
Lower Geyser Basin.
The Lower Geyser Basin is the biggest geyser in the Yellowstone national park. It covers approximately 11 square miles (28km^2). The most famous sights here are the Fountain Paint Pot and the Great Fountain Geyser.
If you follow the Fountain Paint Pot Trail you will see many good examples for all of those geothermal specialities. You can explore Hot Pools, exploding Geysers, Steam fountains and many mud holes here. (Celestine Pool, Clepsydra GEyser, Fountain Geyser, Fountain Paint Pot, Fumaroles, Jet Geyser, Leather Pool, Morning Geyser, Res Spouter, Silex Spring, Sizzler, Spasm Geyser). The Great Fountain Geyser is also located here and includes great, blue pools that sometimes erupt. Once they erupted every 1 to 2 hours the water flies for 40 minutes up to 220ft in the air. Because you can see this geyser from the parking lot this is a great stop for bad weather.
Morning Glory is located in the Upper Geyser Basin.
Morning Glory is famous for the obvious blue color which leads back to bacteria in the pool.
During some rare events like an earthquake or another seismic activity close by, Morning Glory erupted as a Gleyser.
Morning Glory was often a victim of vandalism because the visitors threw coins or other stuff in the water. The result was a blockage of the underwatertunnels. The water system was reduced and the appearance of the Morning Glory changed and turned into “Faded Glory”.
The in 1870 explored Old Faithful Geyser was named after its irregular eruptions. Up to today, the geyser erupted over a million times since 1872.
The assumption for the next eruption is always depending on the last eruption. The Geyser statistics and predictions are published in the Visitor Center during opening hours. The eruptions’ range can vary from 60 to 110 minutes. Visitors can find the newest prognosis in most buildings around the Old Faithful.
Per eruption, depending on the length wich is normally from 1.5 to 5 minutes, approximately 3.7gal to 8.4gal (14 to 31l) water fly up in the air to approximately 100 to 180ft (30 to 55m). The water has an average temperature of 204°F (95.6°C) while the steam has an average temperature of 350°F (177°C).
Nowadays the Geyser erupts up to 20 times a day. The predictions are accurate 90% of the times with an aberration of 10 minutes. Before the big earthquake in 1959, Old Faithful erupted 21 times a day, which shows a difference to the 20 eruptions a day, now. However, Old Faithful is still faithful as before 🙂
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
The 20mi (32km) long canyon is up to 4000ft (1219m) wide and up to 1200ft (365m) deep.
The Yellowstone River flows through the canyon.
The canyon is known for its yellow/orange colors of the rock on the cliffs that the occurrence of iron is responsible for.
Towards the end of the last Ice Age approximately 14.000 to 18.000 years ago, huge ice blocks developed in the Yellowstone Lake Dam, which started melting after the Ice Age. Big amounts of water started flowing within a short amount of time into the erosion of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Ever since the canyon was even more eroded but is still one of the youngest attractions of the park with an age of 10.000 to 14.000 years.
The most famous waterfall in the canyon are the Lower Falls with a height of 308ft (94m), which makes it almost dubble as tall as the Niagara Falls.
The best known and in my opinion best view-point here is Artist Point, which got its name from the artist Thomas Moran during his Hayden-Expedition in 1871. This point was the beginning of many paintings.
Mammoth Hot Springs
The terrace formations and hot springs of the Mammoth Hot springs are located 6240ft (1902m) above sea level.
The Hot Springs make the warm water of 158°F (70°C) flow over the terraces. The water contains a big amount of calcium carbonate which build a new terrace once they start cooling. The arrangement of each new terrace depends on the kind of deposit (above or underground) and the direction of flow as well as the water turbulence. Algea living in the warm pools have tinted the travertine shades of brown, orange, yellow, red and green.
The water is flowing from Norris Geyser Basin, travelling underground via a fault line and getting heated up by volcanic activity until it bulges back up in the Mammoth Hot Springs on the surface. During that process the water loses sulfurous steam. The water flow commuted in approximately 500 gallons (1900l) per minute. Per day the water developes up to 4000lbs (2tons) of limestone.
The trail that you can explore this geological appearance from is a woodway that leads you along the terrace because you cannot trespass the ground because it is not very stable since you are the surrounded by the travertine that should be protected as best as possible. The hike is very short and takes up to 30min.
The precise sights are:
- Opal-Travertine: In 1947 a tennis court had to be roved in order to give the Terrace the possibility to expand. Opal is separated from the Hot Springs by the road to Norris.
- Angel-Travertine: In 1920/1930 this terrace was still visible. Nowadays it is almost fully covered by plants.
- White Elephant Back-Travertine: Known because of its unusual long, white edge. It is located in the upper lever of the terraces.
- Minerva-Spring: This spring is located in the center of the travertine. It is known for its huge variety of colors.
- Jupiter-Spring: It is located south of Minerva-Spring. It got its name in the 1880’s due to its imposing, tower-like formations.
- New Highland-Spring: This spring became active in 1952. It is a fast growing Terrace.
- Orange Mound-Spring: It got its name by its orange color.
- Bath Lake: This small lake got its name already in 1880; soldiers used to bathe in here: nowadays it is prohibited to bathe in the lake due to the protection of its algae and bacteria
- Liberty Cap: A tall thin rock.
- Devil’s Thumb: A rock that looks like a thumb.
Similar terrace formations can be found in Pamukkale in Turkey. There were also similar terraces in New Zealand but they got destroyed in 1886 by volcanic activities.
Yellowstone River Motel
If you leave the park through the North Entrance in Montana it is not too far until you reach the small town of Gardiner, where is Yellowstone River Motel is located in.
I can warmly recommend this awesome Motel to everyone looking for a cheap motel around the national park. It is very clean, the service is fantastic and it is well equipped. From here you will have the best view on the Yellowstone River and downtown is only one block away.
You can seriously not not see the large, even-toed ungulate in Yellowstone Nationalpark. These animals offer a great photo opportunity but you should definitely not come too close to these huge animals. They can easily become aggressive if they feel disturbed. They can run up to 35mph (55kmh), weight over 2000lbs (900kg) and can get up to 6ft high (1.8m). It is recommended to keep a distance of at least 25 yards (22m) to them.
The Bison in Yellowstone can be divided into two breeds. Either do they live in the north or central. In total there are 4000 to 5000 bisons in the park. The herd often lives in higher altitudes with cooler temperatures in summer and in lower altitudes with warmer temperatures in winter.
It often happened to us that the bisons were walking on the road next to or in front of the cars. The big question then is: What am I going to do now? It is recommended to keep driving slowly behind the bisons until you have a chance to pass them. DO NOT HONK AT THEM. Patience is very interesting at this point. So you should definitely plan that in if you are planning to get somewhere on time. At least you will have a good opportunity to take the perfect picture!
The climate in Yellowstone Nationalpark is mainly influenced by the Rocky Mountains. So expect sudden weather changes in the park throughout the year.
In summer the places at lower altitudes reach an average temperature of approximately 77°F to 86°F (25 to 30°C). In the afternoon, thunderstorms often appear. The nights are also cool in summer. In the mountains temperature will go down into minus degrees. In winter the temperatures are normally between -4°F to 22°C (-20°C to -5°C).
In average there are 72in (183cm) snow each year. Snow can still fall in spring and fall.
The average precipitation varies from 10in(26cm) by Mammoth Hot Springs in the north to 80in (205cm) in the southeast of the park.
I visited the park in June with friends. We arrived Fridays with a lot of rain and had a beautiful blue, sunny sky on Saturday and temperatures up to 73°F (23°C).