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Day 248 – Yellowstone’s Grand Loop, August 21, 2011

I started out today visiting Old Faithful.  The geyser is well known because of its
consistency.  It erupts every 40 to 126 minutes for a few minutes.  While it
doesn’t spew as high as Grand Geyser, the world’s tallest predictable geyser,
it still puts on a good show.  Old
Faithful is located in Upper Geyser Basin along with 125 other active geysers.  In fact, Yellowstone is home to 200 of the
500 active geysers found in the world!

While waiting on Old Faithful to work its magic, I wandered
along the boardwalk past a variety of springs, pools, and geysers including
Chromatic Pool, which I found to be the one of the prettiest as I breathed the
rotten egg smell of sulphur.  Chromatic
Pool’s colors are created by microscopic lifeforms.  Incredibly, these organisms can survive
conditions that would be lethal to most other living creatures, including

From the Upper Geyser Basin we
headed north to the Midway Geyser Basin.
Here, Excelsior Crater, which last erupted in 1985, now shoots its
scalding fluids into the Yellowstone River.
Next to it is Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone’s largest hot
spring.  From afar, the steam radiating
from the spring glowed a shade of blue.
Up close, the brilliant blue spring more than 200 feet in diameter was
ringed in bands of yellow, green, and orange algae.  The water, which is heated by magma beneath
the surface and seeps to the surface through fissures, has a temperature of 160
degrees.  This spring pours 500 gallons of
hot water each minute into the Firehole River.

After visiting the Midway Geyser,
we took a one-way, three mile loop through the Lower Geyser Basin and then
another two mile drive through Firehole Canyon along Firehole River.  The canyon walls tower 800 feet above the
river that got its name from naturally occurring Jacuzzi blasts below the
surface that keep the river from freezing in the cold Wyoming winter.

Further north we found Obsidian
Cliff, a 180,000 year old lava flow.  The
lava flow in this location cooled at a rare, high-speed which makes it look
different from other formations in the park.

My final stop before exiting the
north entrance of the park was at the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces.  The terraces are formed from “calcium
carbonate that has been leached from limestone beneath the earth’s surface and
deposited above as a white travertine.”
The terraces grow, some as much as eight inches a year!

We exited the north entrance into
Montana heading north through Charlie Russell Country.  We quickly ran into an intense thunder
storm.  I had planned on making one stop
at Gallatin Petrified Forest, but I didn’t see any signs for the specific
location and opted out of a wild goose chase in a rainstorm.  We ended the night at the Wal-Mart in Bozeman
with countless other campers!  ETB

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