Yellowstone: Midway Geyser Basin

The Midway Geyser Basin is where you can see the Grand Prismatic Spring, which I'm sure you've seen pictures of before—it's an enormous hot spring, with absolutely amazing colors from the heat-loving bacteria and archaea that live along the edges! Sebastian was particularly excited about seeing this spring, which he called affectionately "the GPS." :)

Driving into the basin, there was steam coming up everywhere! I loved this about Yellowstone. It just never felt like a drive through a normal countryside. You couldn't forget that you were somewhere strange and amazing!

This was a nice geyser, "Flood Geyser," that we saw erupting just off the road. It was especially pretty against the backdrop of those rolling, wooded hills!
From Flood Geyser you could look up toward the Grand Prismatic Spring. Look how huge it is! And look at the color of the steam! You could actually see the reds and blues in the steam above it.

To get a really good view of the Grand Prismatic Spring, you have to hike the Fairy Falls trail which overlooks it from above. They are doing construction on that trail right now (previously the overlook was kind of off the trail, I learned, so I think they are making it a more "official" and safe trail) and we didn't ever get to go on it, which I was kind of sad about. I love this hot spring and I think Sebastian and I would have happily stood taking pictures of it for hours!

We did get to walk through this area twice, though, which was fun. The first time was in the morning when the steam was very heavy because of the cool air. It gave a sheltered, mysterious feeling to everything.
After you cross the Firehole River you walk up past Excelsior Geyser.
Excelsior Geyser used to be enormous, but after the 1890s or so it became less active. They think maybe it erupted so explosively, it blew apart some of the underground caverns beneath it. It still produces a lot of water, though, which runs into the Firehole River. The pool was SO steamy as we walked by! You could just catch glimpses of the turquoise water below the steam.
There are purple gentians growing along the sides of the pool, and each flower was covered with tiny drops of condensation. So pretty!
The you walk around the boardwalk toward the Grand Prismatic Spring. There are interesting little ridges and terraces in the water runoff areas.
Even up close, the steam looked colored! It didn't appear to just be reflected light from the pool. So interesting!
When we came by the second time, another afternoon, there was less steam because the air was warmer, but it was still very misty. It was breezy and the air felt SO good. The hot steam would blow over you, and then the wind would blow across your wet skin and feel so cool! And it had such a steamy, mossy smell—not at all strong or sulfury. The kids got all shivery and didn't like it, but I loved it! I wanted to stand in that steam forever!
There were storm clouds coming in, making the sky dark, but the sun was still out and all the colors were brilliant!
Since the wind was blowing the steam away in waves, you could see the beautiful vibrant blue water inside Excelsior Geyser. Unearthly!
As the sun shone on it, Grand Prismatic Spring seemed like it was almost glowing from within.
The clouds and shadows and sunlight angling across the constantly billowing steam and the shifting, reflective water made for such a gorgeous sight. I couldn't tear myself away! Sebby and I kept saying, "Just one more picture!" until everyone else went back to the car to wait it out. :) We loved this place! We still want to come back someday, for that amazing aerial view, but for now this will have to suffice!

(UPDATE: We came back the next year and got the aerial view! Pictures here.)

1 comment

  1. The "GPS" was one area we didn't get to see when we travelled to Yellowstone several years ago. :( Your pictures are lovely! Yellowstone is really its own little world - so different from anything else in North America.


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