7/30/19 – Tuesday
We were on the road by 8 am, no easy task for 7 people, but worth it because we saw some animals and made it to the Grand Prismatic Spring (and Midway Geiser Basin which includes the Excelsior Geyser) before the crowds. John and I had never managed to see this part of Yellowstone because it was usually overflowing with parked cars and lines of people. The only bad element this time was how foggy it was, so our views were more limited. When we got to the Grand Prismatic Spring we did manage to notice that there were people looking down on us from a spot above. We could certainly see how that would be a way better view. Later that day I asked a ranger how people got there: you can park at the Fairy Falls trail parking or Biscuit Basin parking (the latter is larger), then walk across the bridge on the path to Fairy Falls and the Overlook (overlooking Grand Prismatic Spring). Here is what we saw that morning, before we knew about the Overlook:
From the poster about Grand Prismatic Spring: It’s the largest and one of the most brilliant of Yellowstone’s hot springs. It stretches 200 feet (61 meters) across. The high temperature (160 degrees F, 70 degrees C) ensures that the hot spring is often cloaked in steam.
“Deep beneath us 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. … The blue color is created by sunlight scattered by fine particles suspended in the water….the yellow, orange and brown colors encircling the spring …are caused by thermophiles-heat loving microorganisms. These microbes contain colorful pigments that allow them to make energy from sunlight and thrive in the harsh conditions of the hot springs.”
As soon as we arrived at Old Faithful we found out it would blow within the next 20-30 minutes so we stationed ourselves to watch. Later we had lunch at a picnic table nearby, then saw it go off even higher.
Next we hiked the Geyser Hill:
Then we drove to the Biscuit Basin parking lot and walked the Fairy Falls Trail to the sign for Overlook, then saw much better views of the Grand Prismatic Spring.
Tacos for dinner thanks to Justin and Jamie. Lily and I had “traveling tacos” that she learned about in Girl Scouts: Start with a small bag of Fritos, add chili, then your toppings. Yum!