Old Faithful Geyser Eruption Sequence

Day 14-2  Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be

Provided here is a series of photos of the eruption of Old Faithful. The whole event lasted close to ten minutes, and most of the time, the geyser was at its full height. It started up slowly at first then quickly built to its full height—I would estimate about 30 feet.

At the end, it shut down promptly.

If you open the gallery and click through the sequence, it will provide some idea of how it looked.  There is, however, no substitute for being there. The sounds associated with the eruption—the “whoosh” and the quiet roar—certainly add to the experience.




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Geysers, Hot Springs, Fumaroles and Mudpots – Yellowstone’s Thermal Features

Day 14-2 Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be

Yellowstone is unique, and this quality can be attributed to the fact that much of the park stretches across the top of a huge, active volcano. This volcano brings super heated rock (lava) to within eight to 10 miles below the surface of the park.

Water that seeps down through the surface collects in cracks and underground caverns and is heated. This is the source of energy for Yellowstone’s Thermal Features.

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Geysers are one of the four different types of four types of thermal structures in the park.

Geysers – The most spectacular and dynamic features of the park, occur when underground constrictions increase the pressure on the heated water. Eventually, the pressure exceed the ability of the constriction to hold the water until it finally erupts. Few geysers erupt on a regular schedule like Old Faithful. Some erupt continuously.

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Hot water enters the spring from the hole in the ground visible in the bottom of the pool. The white around the edge are colonies of bacteria.

Hot Springs – Open pools of very hot water, around 190 degrees F. They are not geysers because the flow of hot water to the surface is not constricted. The water that does not evaporate, flows over the edges of the pool of the spring and seeps back into the soil. These pools are often colored around the edges due to bacteria that thrive in the harsh hot, acid conditions of the spring.

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Fumaroles beside the park road. The steam is more or less continuous, sometimes more intense than others.

Fumaroles – Similar to geysers, except that the water emerges as steam and not hot water. Driving through the park, it is not uncommon to come upon a fumarole in unexpected places. Look for steam rising along the edge of a lake or from cracks in rocks off the shoulder of park roads. It look like someone left the tea kettle boiling.

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A Small Mudpot with Bison Tracks in the Soft Mud.

Mudpots – Hot acidic underground water seeps to the surface through cracks in rocks. The acidic nature of the water breaks down surrounding rocks, turning them into mud. Eventually the heat-and-acid-loving bacteria begin to grow in the hot damp mud, creating a palette of colors, hence some mudpots are also referred to as paint pots.

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A Paint Pot

Previous: Into Yellowstone Park


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Into Yellowstone National Park – Driving Around, and On, a Volcano

Day 14 – Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be.

DSC_0097 (900x602)Today was dedicated to a visit to Yellowstone National Park. First, there are some notable facts about Yellowstone. For example, it is the first of the National Parks in the United States and perhaps the first national park in the world, having been established by the U. S. Congress, and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872.

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The peaks began to peek through the clouds.

But first, one piece of old business: The weather is much better today, and we were able to take several good photos of the Grand Tetons on our way to Yellowstone. One of my favorite shots is a view of one of the peaks through a hole in the clouds.

Yellowstone National Park covers more than 3,400 square miles including lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America. Within the park is the caldera of the largest active supervolcano on the American continent. Based on geological evidence, the volcano has erupted several times over the past two million years. The latest eruption occurred some 640,000 years ago.

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Geysers are one of the four different types of thermal structures in the park.

Hot magma—molten lava—eight to ten miles below the surface under the Yellowstone caldera–transfers extreme heat from much deeper in the earth. This accounts for the nearly 10,000 “thermal features” found in Yellowstone. Thermal features include geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and fumaroles (see the post on Yellowstone thermal features).

So, in effect, we set out this morning to drive around—and across—the caldera of an active volcano. Not many places in the world where you can do that as a casual tourist.

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In case there was any doubt

Of course, our first objective was Old Faithful. My grandmother was something of a traveler when I was young—eight to 12 years—and she had given me a View-Master stereoscopic viewer and several sets of “reels” for viewing. Later, when she was traveling, she was able to purchase reels of destinations like Yellowstone, including wildlife and geysers, and send them to me. They were way better than postcards! Old Faithful went on my travel bucket list before we used the term “bucket list”! Today was the day to check off that item.

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Old Faithful, right on schedule.

When my grandmother was there, the area was not nearly so developed, and folks just stood around, at a safe distance, and watched the geyser spout-off.  Today, Old Faithful is the centerpiece of a whole enterprise of hotels, eateries, souvenir shops, paved walkways and viewing stands. But the eruption is still as magnificent an experience as it was then.

We arrived early for the next scheduled eruption and waited more than 40 minutes, but we had one of the best seats to be had. See the separate post, “Eruption of Old Faithful.”

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The steep-sided V-shaped Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

After leaving Old Faithful to regenerate for the next eruption, we followed the lower (southern) loop road through the park. If you take this route, make sure you take the Virginia Cascade road for a mild adventure. For the most part, this route is like driving through any other natural park—seeing occasional animals, fabulous views, etc., but this is the only place you are likely to see random instances of natural steam coming out of the ground like an active teapot. All through the park, there are  mudpots, geysers, fumaroles, etc. (see the post on Yellowstone thermal features).

A must-see stop is Canyon Village, so named for the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone–that is the Yellowstone River. The canyon is a classic river-created canyon–V-shaped rather than the more curved glacier-carved canyons. There are trails to hike down to the river. The views, as everywhere, are worth every photo taken.

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We saw bison throughout the park. A good telephoto lens lets me get close without getting too close.

We then stopped at Lake Lodge for an extended break. Rustic Lake Lodge is on Yellowstone Lake and is part of Lake Village. Leaving Lake Village, we came upon stopped traffic. In front of several vehicles ahead, a couple of bison were crossing the road—at a leisurely pace. They are huge beasts. I was like watching a slow-moving locomotive crossing the road. We joked that these bison had drawn the “short straw” and gotten tourist photo duty for the afternoon. They did a fine job.

For a day’s drive in a park, it was like no other experience I have ever had. But Yellowstone is not quite off my bucket list yet. There is much more to see and experience.

Previous: To The Entrance to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks

Next: Types of Thermal Features in Yellowstone







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To The Entrance to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks

Day 13 – Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be.

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Historic markers along US-189 provide interesting histories of the area.

The drive along US 189 is an easy drive, that roughly follows the Green River. We stopped several times at historic markers and learned a little about the history of the area. Apparently, this area was one of the routes of settlers from the east took to get to the west coast. It was not an easy route, and many people perished along the way.

This became the first of our two most disappointing days of the whole trip. Although the day started out nice as we left Kemmerer, the weather gradually deteriorated

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Along the routeto Jackson Hole, this was our best view of the Tetons–still well to the south.

to a low overcast and constant rain as we approached Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We had hoped to stop here for a while, but the combination of traffic, lousy weather, and no immediate place to temporarily park the truck-trailer combo discouraged us. The weather had also slowed traffic, meaning it would push back our arrival at the next camp ground if we stopped for any length of time.

We continued on toward the Grand Tetons. Although the rain subsided, the clouds remained low, obscuring most of the mountains. We stopped at several pull-overs in the park, but never got any view of the mountains. We elected to go on to our next campground and hope for better weather the next day.

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We stopped at one of the turnouts in Grand Teton National Park for a quick walk.

Fireside Campground had been recommended to us by one of Peggy’s Sisters-On-The-Fly friends, who also happened to be staying there. This is an older, well established campground in Moran, Wyoming, just five miles from the entrance to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. They tell me it used to be a KOA campground, but is now independently owned and operated. Camper sites have full hookup. There are also tent campsites available. We arranged for three nights to allow ourselves  a couple of days in the area, including Yellowstone.

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We have arrived at our next campground.

Our plan was to go back to the Grand Tetons the next day, hoping that the weather would clear. This became our second disappointing day. The low clouds did not lift. Still, we went to the Grand Tetons Visitors Center and explored much of the park–just, again, without any clear view of the mountains. We had lunch and one of the lodges in the park where I was introduced to a bison burger, which was quite good, and also introduced to a brown ale called Moose Drool. I mean, how can you refuse to try a beer call Moose Drool. I know now that it is not my favorite brown ale.

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The Grand Teton marker on the road from Fireside Campground to the entrance to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

While driving through the park, we did encounter a female elk–preparing to cross the road just as we approached. She stopped. The situation was not good for a photo. We saw what we could and headed back to camp. See the photo gallery.

We used the camp time to catch up on postcards and laundry.



Previous:Red Canyon, Utah, to Wyoming

Next: Yellowstone




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Red Canyon, Utah, to Wyoming

Day 12 – Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be.

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Entering Red Canyon approaching Bryce City

This is will be the last mention of hoodoos or sand pipes or photographs of red-clay colored vistas. We are headed to the snow-capped peaks of the Tetons and Yellowstone, where wild things live and hot springs are really hot!

Leaving Bryce, however, we stopped at the visitor center for Red Canyon for photos and a few souvenirs. Red Canyon has many features similar to Bryce Canyon, including several impressive hoodoos visible from the highway. I took this opportunity to test my new Tamron 70-300 zoom lens. The three test photos were taken from the parking lot in front of the visitor’s center. After this brief stop (and a few more souvenirs) we were on our way.

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Hoodoo from Parking lot with normal 50mm lens

US 89 winds through arches carved through fins of “red sandstone,” and past the hoodoos of Red Canyon. We followed US 89 and transitioned to I-15 northward toward Salt Lake City, then northeastward via I-80 into Wyoming.  Looking at printed maps, it was difficult to determine the best route, so we left the decision to Tom-Tom. The navigator’s route took us east of the Utah-Wyoming border to US 189. toward the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

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Hoodoo from Parking Lot with 135 mm Telephone Lens

We left the Interstate and turned north. Route 189 runs across broad valleys of open pasture land, surrounded by distant mountains, providing vistas that stretched to a disappearing horizon in one direction, and rimmed by blue-green, or occasional snow-topped, mountains in another. It also provided occasional sightings of pronghorn antelope and mule deer. It took us about seven hours to reach Kemmerer, Wyoming.

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Hoodoo from parking lot with 300mm Telephoto Lens.

Again, we had no specific destination or designated place to stay either along the route or near Yellowstone. We made a fuel stop in the little town of Kemmerer, Wyoming. The very helpful cashier at the gas station helped us find Riverside Campground, just north of town.

The campground had very nice, pave sites, both pull through and back in, with full services (electricity, water, sewer, and cable TV (WIFI available for an additional charge). Riverside is best suited for campers that are self-sufficient—there are no amenities such as a bathhouse, camp store, or laundry.

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The Office – Riverside Campground, Kemmerer, Wyoming

In the evening, we spent some time researching possible campgrounds from which to launch our visits to both the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. We located Fireside Campground, in Moran, Wyoming. It was only five miles from the entrance to both the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

Riverside Campground, Kemmerer, Wyoming
Address: 216 Spinel St, Kemmerer, WY 83101
Phone: (307) 877-3416

Previous: Kodachrome Basin State Park

Next: Kemmerer to Moran, Wyoming


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Kodachrome Basin State Park

Day 11 – Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be

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Kodachrome Basin State Park Entrance

This was to be our last full day in Ruby’s Campground, before heading north toward Yellowstone and beyond. Peggy took the day off from SOTF activities and we discussed where to explore. We considered Zion National Park, but that was nearly a two-hour drive and crowds were reported to be very high. We opted for the more local Kodachrome State Park. It was less than an hour away and recommended by the camp Staff

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Scenery typical of the drive from Bryce City to the Kodachrome Basin

Kodachrome “is cut from” the same forces that produced Bryce Canyon, but on a different, smaller scale. About 30 miles east of Bryce City on Highway 12, the drive takes you farther and farther into what often appears to be wilderness. Still, during the entire trip, flat-topped mesas and other stone formation rise from the high plains. Occasional signs confirmed we were going in the right direction.

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View Near Chimney Rock

This is a state park, so we had to pay the modest $8.00 per vehicle entry fee. The park is an open, sprawling mixture of open range–with cattle–and roads and and hiking trails, each leading to one or more of the parks geologic features.

It was near mid-day when we arrived. This had two influences on what we did and saw. First, the area is dry and hot, the sparse grazing is a near-desert environment–and hot. Also, the high, mid-day sun was probably the least favorable for photography. Consequently, we did not hike but one or two short trails. But much of the park can be seen and appreciated from your vehicle.

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Chimney Rock for which the park was first named

Our first stop was at Chimney Rock, the tallest of approximately 67 natural sandstone monoliths scattered through the park. It is believed that at the same time geologic and environmental forces were in the process of creating Bryce Canyon, similar forces were at work here. Chimney Rock may have begun its existence as a stream of liquid sand pushing up through cracks in softer rock. Extreme pressures and heat caused the liquid sandstone to became frozen in time. Weathering and erosion, or millions of years, removed the surrounding softer material, leaving this shaft standing on the desert floor.

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The name “Kodachrome” Explained

The park’s name, Kodachrome Basin, first appeared in a 1949 issue of the National Geographic magazine. Their photographers were impressed with the colors, and how they changed through the day, and suggested the name. Originally, officially called Chimney Rock State Park, Kodak later gave permission to use their trademarked name for the park.

Later, I hiked the trail to Shakespeare’s Arch. The one-third mile trail is an easy hike–until you reach the arch, then it becomes challenging.

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Shakespeare’s Arch, named for a local man who first discovered the geologic arch

One feature that caught my eye are the canyon–or basin–walls around the park. The sheer, chiseled vertical walls often take on the appearance of tall, ancient stone buildings.

Also, the trip through the park includes open range where cattle rangegraze. Fences and a cattle guard confine cattle to the range land (see photos in the gallery).

Although not as large or a spectacular as Bryce Canyon, Kodachrome State Park offers spectacular views, and the opportunity to hike and explore uncrowded trails. For a one-day visit, I recommend coming early for the best light. The ideal plan is to camp in the park and be up at sunrise, and/or stay late for sunset to get the full effect of the park’s namesake. It is a site I look forward to returning to.

Previous: Bryce Canyon-2

Next:   We begin our trip north to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.




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Bryce Canyon – Day 2

Day 10- Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be.

I Entered the park shortly after it opened at 8:00 am, and proceeded directly to Sunrise Point–the area that had been closed yesterday.

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Directions on the Rim Trail

Photographically, I concentrated on including more people in my photos on this day–well, at least a few photos. While taking photos along the Rim Trail, I heard a young man in his early teens say to his parents, “If you want to know what to take photos of, watch him,” he said indicating me. “He has the good camera.” He was referring to my Nikon, which is a good camera, that produces good results, but far from the really high-end professional models.

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A Rare Moment of Group Quiet Contemplation

We struck up a conversation, and in the process, I asked the three guys–the father and two sons–to sit on a bench, facing the canyon, with their backs to me so that I could get a photo.

I started to hike one of the shorter trails to the floor of the canyon, but about half way down, the trail was closed for maintenance because a winter storm had damaged part of the trail. Still, I was able to get photos from well below the rim in the canyon.

As with yesterday’s post, I am going to let the photos do the talking.

Previous: Bryce Canyon – Day 1

Next: Kodachrome State Park

Gallery (Click on an image for full size and caption)


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