Travel – Yellowstone Adventure Part 3: Thermal Features

The Grand Prismatic Spring In Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin Viewed From the Overlook. The Grand Prismatic is the largest spring in the USA and the third largest in the world. This thermal feature is other worldly!

Yellowstone National Park is located over the top of what is known as a supervolcano. To be classified as a supervolcano there must have been an eruption of at least an 8 magnitude. The last time that Yellowstone erupted was 70,000 years ago.

During a Yellowstone eruption 12 million years ago, the ash was so thick that it killed off many dinosaurs. A large group of prehistoric creatures met their demise while drinking from a watering hole in rural Nebraska due to this Yellowstone eruption. The archeological dig managed by the University of Nebraska is known as the Ashfall Fossil Beds. They have uncovered 19 different genera of animals that died of lung failure due to vast ash blown in from the eruption.

But I digress. The topic of the Ashfall Fossil Beds is for another blog post on another day.

Yellowstone’s supervolcano is active, with 700 to 3,000 earthquakes recorded per year. The thermal heat and activity below the park produce a plethora of thermal features including the famed geysers like Old Faithful, springs, pools, and vents. There are over 10,000 thermal features in the park.

During day two in the park we witnessed many of the thermal features in the southern and western sections of the park. The geysers are spread out in many parts of the park. We visited Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Artists Paint Pots, Lower Geyser Basin, Midway Geyser Basin, Upper Geyser Basin, West Thumb Geyser Basin and the Hayden Valley Geyser Basin.

Old Faithful. Our tour guide Mike from Yellowstone Wonders dropped us off literally 30 seconds before it erupted at the PERFECT viewing location. We are telling you hiring a good guide is essential to optimizing your Yellowstone National Park experience.
Mammoth Hot Springs, Ever Moving, Ever Changing. 170 degree F water is fed to Mammoth from the Norris Geyser Basin through an underground Fault Line.
Photo by Rudolf Kirchner on

Steamboat geyser in Norris Geyser Basin. It did not erupt while we were there this year, but we did get to see it erupt in July 2020 from the Norris Geyser Basin Lookout. Again, our guide Mike was tipped off and we just got parked in time to see this once every other week eruption.

Roaring Mountain in the Norris Region. Several steam vents make the mountain sound like it is roaring, especially on a cold early morning.
Old faithful. Some say that it is a disappointment. Some say that it does not erupt as high as in the past. We we’re impressed every time we saw it.
Artists Paint Pots in Gibbon Geyser Basin
One of the small but extremely active thermal features in Lower Geyser Basin
Dragon’s Mouth Spring in Hayden Valley
White Dome Geyser in the Lower Geyser Basin.

We saw most of the thermal features on day 2 in the park. Some of the photos and videos were from the 2020 trip that Beth and I took to Yellowstone. With 6 people in the vehicle, getting us all in and out took time. Seeing as many thermal features as reasonably possible in one day is difficult and tiring.

The kids, mom and frankly the two of us, while in awe of and impressed by the thermal features were not nearly as excited during day 2 of thermal features as we were during days 1 and 3 with loads of wildlife at Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley. However, I’d wager that the entire traveling party loved the 3 days we spent in the park with Mike our tour guide from Yellowstone Wonders.

It was time and money well spent. Beth and I will do it again. Maybe in the winter months next time.

Published by R Dub's Rub

Conversational BLOG writer and contributing writer for LocaLeben magazine. My BLOG entries represent observations that intrigue, amuse, inspire or stimulate my appetite.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: