Yellowstone National Park became the first National Park in the US. on March 1, 1872.
When our family decided to make a list of which park to visit this Yellowstone National Park was the first on our list. After Nichole’s high school graduation in 2010 we took off on a multi-state National Park adventure.
Fast forward about seven years and we ended up returning to the park in 2017. The park is filled with so many different geothermal features, wildlife, forests and grasslands. The second trip was almost like a brand new adventure. We saw different areas of the park and quite a bit had changed since 2010.
The most popular feature is the Old Faithful, the first named geyser in the park. It is also the most predictable eruption, any where from 60-110 minutes. The steam’s temperature has been as hot as 350 degrees at eruption, and could reach heights of 130ft tall.
When stopping by to see Old Faithful, go to the the Old Faithful Inn and check to see when the next eruption will happen. If it won’t be for a while, there are shops, a cafeteria to eat at and the Old Faithful Visitor Educational Center to explore while you wait for Old Faithful to erupt. Although it might seem like it’s a long wait, make sure you get a seat on the boardwalk early so you can get some great pictures or video.
The park also has a web cam where you could check out Old Faithful if you are unable to visit. https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm
Old Faithful might be the most popular attraction at Yellowstone, but my favorite is the Grand Prismatic Spring. This spring is deeper than a 10 story building and it’s water travels up from a crack in the earth 121 feet below the surface. The spring gets is colors from heat loving bacteria that grows in it’s water. The different colors are based on the temperature and the kind of bacteria that likes a specific temperature. One of the pictures of the Grand Prismatic Spring that I took from our 2010 trip actually made it to the MSNBC.com website!
Throughout the year it rains and snows at Yellowstone National Park. The rain and snow soaks into the ground and in the area of Mammoth Springs mixed with the hot gasses that is mixed with carbon monoxide. As the carbon monoxide dissolved in the hot water a weak carbonic acid is formed. As the acid creeps back up through the rocks it dissolves a large amount of limestone and brings it to the surface. Above ground the solution is exposed to air allowing the carbon dioxide to escape leaving the limestone to harden at the surface. The water here is slow moving and hot, this allows bacteria and algae to get caught in the limestone making the white limestone turn to orange.
One of the biggest disappointments we had in 2017 was how crowded the park was this time around. When we went in 2010, there were crowds but nothing like it was this time around. Many times the parking lots were full and we had to circle around, come back at a later time and deal with the crowds at popular sites. We usually travel in the summer which is the busiest time in the park, so we are used to busy, but this was much busier than expected. In a few years we will not have to worry about school schedules and will be able to travel year round. This would make it easier to see the park when it is less crowded in spring and fall. Who knows, we may be brave (or stupid) and try to visit during winter time to see the snow. The photos I could take of the park and all of it’s animals covered in snow would be amazing!