Mike & Joyces Travel logs
Home ** 2007 Travel Logs**
Places Visited: Wyoming & Montana: Touring Yellowstone National Park with our son & grandson. Also visiting the Grizzly & Wolf Center in West Yellowstone, MT.
August 18-21, 2007.
We are staying in Grizzly RV-Park in West Yellowstone, Montana just out the west gate of Yellowstone National Park. We had reservations this time for a back in FHU backin site for $37. Grizzly is a nice park, the nicest campground in the area. Bottom line is if you are planning to visit WEST YELLOWSTONE during July thru Aug-15 you need a reservation as every campground in the area is FULL. After August 15 you can have your choice of campgrounds with no reservations.
Our son and grandson are spending the week with us touring the Tetons and Yellowstone. Come join us for some fun.
We were in Gros Ventre National Park Campground in the Tetons when we woke up this morning. After breakfast we cranked the motorhome and headed to Yellowstone National Park.
Not far inside the south gate to Yellowstone NP we stopped to take pictures at Lewis Falls
This is grandson Stephen, son Jeff and Joyce.
Between the south entrance to Yellowstone and Old Faithful the road crosses over the Continental Divide three times. We stopped at this one to get a picture.
These elk were in a meadow between Old Faithful and Madison Junction.
One of the many waterfalls in Yellowstone. This one was on the Firehole River loop just south of Madison Junction.
This is some of the awesome geology displayed in volcanic rocks visible on the Firehole River loop.
After the volcanic eruption cracks in the plateau oozed lava for hundreds of thousands of years. The most recent magma eruption was only 60,000 years ago.
This cliff shows a flood of lava in cross-section. The rhyolite cliff is pocked with volcanic gas bubbles.
Jeff and Stephen inspecting a hot spring.
Geysers are blowing off steam in a variety of places.
This is one of the Fountain Paint Pots.
Year after year, this huge mudpot has chanted with the seasons. Fountain Paint Pot spits thin, sloppy mud in spring. In dryer conditions, thick bubbles of mud and gas ooze through cracks, then burst and collapse, forming cone-shaped mounds.
Paint Pots are created by:
Heat (derived from Yellowstone's volcano) ---- in the form of hot magma welling up in a dome beneath Yellowstone.
A thick layer of rhyolite (volcanic rock)
Thermopiles (heat-loving microorganisms)
The volcanic heat and gases rise through the Earth's crust boiling water deep underground, creating gases. These gasses and super hot water are forced upward through cracks in the rhyolite where they simmer here on the surface. The thermophiles, simmer in this stew while they consume gasses and help turn the mixture into an acidic marinade. Eventually the rhyolite turns into clay.
And there you have it --- this vat of bubbling mud contains the perfect mix of ingredients to create mudpots:
The earth's extreme habitats, like this one, are studied by scientists who seek to understand life's ultimate limits. Knowledge gained from "earth-bound" studies aids scientists who search for life (and evidence of its past existence) in the extreme environments found elsewhere in our solar system.
This chipmunk was busy collecting pine cones in a tree near the paint pots.
This is a fumarole---gases are escaping from within the earth.
Fumaroles are different from Hot Springs and Geysers. Hot springs are ponds of hot water while geysers are hot springs that have a habit of throwing the water high in the air from time to time.
Fumaroles just belch steam and other gasses.
This thermal feature was created by the 1959 earthquake that occurred about 25-miles west of here.
This is another of the thermal features created by that earthquake.
This geyser erupted as we were approaching it.
In another part of the park we stopped to investigate a hot spring that was accessible. Jeff decided to put his fingers in to see how hot. It was hot enough that he didn't want to stick his fingers in a second time. He is grinning just before his fingers touched the water.
The water was hot but not boiling hot.
The intense blue color in this hot spring is due to sunlight being scattered by fine particles suspended in the water.
When we arrived at White Dome Geyser with its massive cone that erupts every 12 to 24 minutes we decided to stop and wait for it to erupt.
As it turned out it was nearly 24-minutes before it went off. That is Joyce, Jeff and Stephen patiently waiting for the show.
And this is what we waited for. Just before we gave up the White Dome Geyser erupted with a jet of water that turned to steam and spray. Actually, it erupted like this for several minutes.
Jeff and Stephen on a bridge over the Firehole River in an area with numerous hot springs and geysers
Hot water from one of the hot springs flowing into the Firehole River. The brown and green areas beside the water are living organisms.
This is Excelsior Geyser Crater. Again the brown and green you see in this picture are living organisms.
In the 1880s Excelsior Geyser erupted in bursts 50 to 300 feet high. The thermal violence formed the jagged crater and apparently ruptured the geyser's underground plumbing system, causing eruptions to cease after 1890.
Though its eruptions have been erratic, the geyser's outflow is nearly constant, pumping more than 4,000 gallons of boiling water per-minute over the crater rim into the Firehole River.
While Excelsior Geyser's rugged crater was created by massive geyser eruptions it also preserves a record of past life.
For thousands of years, microbes have grown in the runoff channels extending from nearby Grand Prismatic Spring. These vast communities were buried alive as the flowing hot water deposited a crust of silica minerals. The resulting deposit, called sinter, preserved the shape of the microbial mat it entombed. As new mats grew, more layers developed. Today's formation is the result of this interplay between its living and nonliving components.
Yellowstone's hydrothermal features provide a glimpse into the distant past when intense volcanism was widespread on the young Earth. The lifeforms found here help scientist understand the type of life that likely arose and diversified billions of years ago on our planet.
Formations like this that entomb microbes may offer clues in the search for life on other worlds. Volcanic hot spring systems are believed to have existed on other planets in our solar system.
If similar formations are found, they may contain evidence that life existed elsewhere in the universe.
Speaking of other worlds, this place reminds me of "another world".
This is a hot spring with those microbes growing around the edges.
This hot spring has a large mat of those microbes living around it.
Deep beneath the spring, magma from an active volcano heats water that rises to the surface through fissures in the rocks. The result is a hot spring that pours almost 500 gallons of hot water each minute into the Firehole River. Minerals dissolved in the hot water are deposited and gradually build the gracefully terraced shoulders of this feature.
In this picture you can see the extent of this microbial mat.
The yellow, orange, and brown colors encircling the hot spring and lining the runoff channels are caused by thermopiles--heat-loving microorganisms. These microbes contain colorful pigments that allow them to make energy from sunlight ad thrive in the harsh conditions of hot springs.
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most accessible places to study extreme environments and the organisms that inhabit them. Understanding the lifeforms here provides clues for scientists searching for life elsewhere in the universe.
Because conditions on other planets in our solar system are harsh, if life exists elsewhere it is probably as some form of microscopic extremophile.
Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest and one of the most brilliant of Yellowstone's many colorful hot springs. Its massive expanse stretches approximately 200 feet across. The cloak of steam over the spring is the result of 160F° temperature of its water.
The cloak of steam in the background is coming off the hot spring.
This is a closer look at the thermopiles living in these harsh conditions.
As we were pulling into the Old Faithful area a group of elk crossed the road in front of us. Joyce was able to get a picture of them as they passed in front of the Old Faithful Lodge seen in the background.
They made a good addition to the thermal features.
I think I like this picture best. Again, that is Old Faithful Lodge with the flags on top.
Female elk like to trot with their head held high in the air.
As soon as we pulled into the parking lot at Old Faithful it started going off. Jeff and Stephen jumped from the car while I found a parking place, and Joyce snapped these pictures.
I got the car parked in time to witness the end of the eruption.
Jeff, Joyce and Stephen pose in front of the Old Faithful Inn.
Old Faithful went off again just as we were leaving.
Stephen clowning with a bear in the Gift Shop at Old Faithful.
And this was the end of a wonderful day in Yellowstone as the sun sets over the Madison River as we were heading back to our motorhome in West Yellowstone, Montana.
Jeff, Stephen and the Madison River with an elk on the far side.
This fine bull elk was hanging around Canyon Village.
Stephen posing at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Jeff and Stephen at Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
This black bear was at the pullout on Dunraven Pass. We were watching this bear when a hail storm sent us running for cover. After the hail storm was over we returned and this bear was where we last saw him. Totally unphased by the hail storm.
This bull elk was spotted near Gibbon Meadows.
This gray wolf was one of the wolves on display at the Grizzly and Wolf Center in West Yellowstone, Montana.
Two of the grizzly bears on display at the Grizzly and Wolf Center in West Yellowstone, Montana.
Stephen is in the bear enclosure hiding food for the bears.
Stephen is heading to another hiding spot.
The Grizzly and Wolf Center lets children under 12-years of age hide food for the bears. This activity is not only fun for the children hiding the food but also mentally stimulating for the bears.
When the children are safely out of the enclosure the door is open and these bears came bounding out knowing that all kinds of goodies have been hidden for them to find.
Until next time remember how good life is.
Mike & Joyce Hendrix