Driving here from Norris Basin we got to see steam rising over the golden plains that had some bison scattered about. We were on our way to Old Faithful but this is a must-stop. Finding a place to park was a little tricky but we managed to squeeze Snowball into one of the longer spots available at Midway Geyser Basin, our third stop/hike of the day.
Hydrothermal features are fragile rarities of nature. Yellowstone preserves the largest collection of hydrothermal features on the planet. At Midway there are two of those major features. You first get to walk across a bridge over the Firehole River where the Excelsior Crater runs off into the water. It's rather dramatic but not nearly as dramatic as what we would eventually end up seeing.
First on the right of the boardwalk loop is the Turquoise Pool
named by the 1878 Hayden Expedition. Suspended mineral particles in the water also add an opalescent iridescence to the gem-like blue colored water. Interesting: Turquoise Pool has no apparent overflow channel; instead water drains through seepage. There is an underground connection with Excelsior Geyser. When Excelsior was active, Turquoise lowered nearly ten feet and took nearly a year to recover
The Opal Poo
l on the other hand is just a hot spring so not nearly the color drama here, though it does have a pretty green pool after it refilled itself in 2008. The highlight of this basin is Grand Prismatic Spring
, the largest hot spring in Yellowstone and is considered to be the third largest hot spring in the world. New Zealand has the two largest springs. Artist Thomas Moran made water-color sketches depicting its rainbow-like colors. Altho I don't think these colors remind me much of a rainbow but they were dramatic
The colors begin with a deep blue center followed by pale blue. Green algae forms beyond the shallow edge. Outside the scalloped rim a band of yellow fades into orange. Red then marks the outer border. Steam often shrouds the spring which reflects the brilliant colors but lucky for us, there was a pretty good breeze blowing so we got to be blown away by the deep colors of Grand Prismatic
The spring discharges an estimated 560 gallons per minute, has a temperature of 147-188°F. I guess you can see it above the hill but we didn't realize that at the time... and with the breeze blowing, today would have been a good time for that.
The last item on this loop is the Excelsior Geyser
, once the largest geyser in the world. However, the last known major eruptions occurred during the 1880s, when there were numerous eruptions up to 300 feet. Excelsior is now a productive thermal spring, discharging 4050 gallons per minute. Numerous vents boil and churn the water within the crater, covering it in a dense layer of steam which is pretty cool looking as it swirls about revealing its turquoise 199°F water.
Because of the breeze, I had to use music for my videos that have movies and pictures. I got one really awesome photo of Grand Prismatic among the many that I took.
Part 1 including the drive from Norris Basin: https://youtu.be/1t ... ugk0
Part 2 at Midway Geyser Basin: https://youtu.be/Lr ... K-qE