Sunday: My friend Yigal and I flew from JFK to Salt Lake City, and from there on to the tiny airport at West Yellowstone, Montana. My friend Julie had flown from Pittsburgh into Jackson, Wyoming the day before and rented a car, which she had driven into Yellowstone. She was kind enough to drive to “West” to pick us up from the airport.
We drove two miles from the airport into town to buy groceries, and then continued on another mile to the entrance to the National Park. We then drove over an hour to reach the Canyon area of Yellowstone, where we would be camping for the week. Julie had already checked in earlier in the day and set up her tent, and I set up a two man tent that I had brought for Yigal and myself.
Yellowstone National Park is huge, and in fact the borders of the park were established before the borders of the host states were. Thus, most of the park is in Wyoming, but a small part is in Montana and an even smaller part is in Idaho.
It was only about 4:30 p.m., with sundown not until 8:00, so we drove out for a little sightseeing, selecting the Norris Geyser Basin, which was about a half hour drive. Norris is divided into Porcelain Basin and Back Basin. While most of the Yellowstone geyser basins are alkaline, this one is acidic. This panoramic view shows the barren ground, which abounds with iron and arsenic:
This is a tone-mapped shot (a variation of High Dynamic Range imaging) of Ledge Geyser, the largest geyser in Porcelain Basin:
Following are a few miscellaneous photos from the Norris Geyser Basin:
I mentioned that the ground was acidic. A number of the thermal features at Yellowstone give off sulfur, and it can oxidize on the surface to form sulfuric acid, which kills most of the plant life, leaving a somewhat barren terrain around the thermal features.
This is Fearless Geyser:
Driftwood in the run-off from a geyser makes for a nice effect:
This is Pearl Geyser:
Puff’n Stuff Geyser sprays water a few feet into the air:
The sulfur and iron can leave yellow and orange deposits on the barren ground. This is Echinus Geyser. None of the geysers were especially active in the Norris Basin while we were there.
Cistern Spring has grown over the years, killing nearby trees. The “bobby socks” effect leaves the lower part of the trees colored white, and the coating of minerals may eventually lead to part of the trees becoming petrified.
Landscape adjacent to the basin:
This is Emerald Spring.
After Norris, we drove back to the Canyon campground, ate dinner, visited the local Camper Services building for showers, and went to sleep. The campground has a number of small bathroom facilities that have lights and running water, but for showers, one has to walk (or drive) to the Camper Services at the main entrance to the Canyon campground. It is a nice facility, which has a large laundromat in addition to the showers. Another nice surprise was that the price of the campsite included showers, and that the showers included free liquid body wash dispensers. I have been to many other parks where there were no showers, or where there were showers that were coin-operated, with no soap provided.