Fred and Jean's Travel Photos

2005 - Yellowstone National Park

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Map of Yellowstone National Park
Map of Yellowstone National Park
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The layout of Yellowstone Park is roughly shaped like a figure 8 (see map). Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake in the park, is located in the southeastern loop at an elevation of almost 8,000'. The water is always cold and freezes over completely in the winter.

In several places around the lake there are villages with stores, gift shops, camping areas, and usually places to eat. We stayed in our motorhome in Fishing Bridge, which is on the north end of Yellowstone Lake. The other villages around the lake are Lake, Bridge Bay, and Grant Village.

Some History of Yellowstone
On March 1, 1872, Yellowstone was signed into existence and was the first national park anywhere in the world. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law that declared Yellowstone would forever be "dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."

Unfortunately, that designation did not protect the park from commercial exploitation, as it was threatened by mining and railroad interests. However, Boone and Crocket, an organization formed by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell, editor of "Forest and Stream" magazine, stepped in and fought for protection. Their efforts were successful, and in 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed the first federal legislation designed to protect wildlife on government lands.

The original entrance to Yellowstone is on the north end of the park in Gardiner, Montana, as seen in the photos below. It is also the only year-round entrance to the park. The 50-foot high Yellowstone North Entrance Arch, also known as Roosevelt Arch, was dedicated "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people" on April 24, 1903, by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Original Entrance Sign in Gardiner, MT
Original Entrance Sign in Gardiner, MT
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Arch Entrance at Gardiner, MT
Arch Entrance at Gardiner, MT
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As you traverse Yellowstone, most of the travel is on beautiful two-lane tree-lined roads. Since it had recently snowed—from June 1-10—there was some snow remaining on the mountaintops and in some of the woodsy areas. Because of the high elevation, the snow melted slowly, despite the daytime temperatures in the 70's and higher.

Although the majority of Yellowstone is in Wyoming, small parts of it are also in Idaho and Montana. The average elevation in the park is 8,000' above sea level and is mostly surrounded by ranges of the Middle Rocky Mountains, which are 10,000' to 14,000' elevation. We often found it difficult to catch our breath even when we weren't doing much. The air was beautifully clean, but also thinner than we are accustomed to! Find more detailed information about the park.


A Little Geological History of Yellowstone
About 640,000 years ago, a massive volcanic eruption occurred spreading ash all over the western United States, much of the Midwest along with northern Mexico and some parts of the eastern Pacific area. This event was one of the significant processes that helped to create the uniqueness of what is now Yellowstone National Park. There are geothermal wonders, such as Old Faithful, in a large section of Yellowstone, indicating that beneath the park lies one of the largest "super volcanoes" in the world. Fortunately, according to the USGS, it does not show signs of a massive eruption in the near future. Good news for the millions of park visitors every year!

Geothermal Features
Geothermal features are classified as geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and fumaroles (steam vents). More than half the earth's geothermal features are found in Yellowstone. Before visiting the park, I had no idea that, besides the famous Old Faithful, the park is home to more than 300 geysers—two-thirds of the geysers on earth. Quite impressive, especially when one is fortunate enough to see some of them erupting.

White Dome Geyser Erupting
White Dome Geyser Erupting
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Old Faithful Erupting
Old Faithful Erupting
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Sapphire Pool at Biscuit Basin
Sapphire Pool at Biscuit Basin
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There are numerous geyser basins in Yellowstone. Along with Old Faithful, Biscuit Basin is part of the Upper Geyser Basin. Biscuit Basin acquired its name for biscuit shaped formations that were formerly around the Sapphire Pool. As a result of the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake, Sapphire Pool became a major geyser. Over time, it's crater greatly enlarged and washed the biscuit formations away, leaving a quiet, beautiful pool (see photo to the right).

Biscuit Basin
Biscuit Basin
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The varying colors around the geysers are caused by pigments found in living cells. The amount of light that they receive daily or seasonally either intensifies or mutes the colors. Two of these pigments are chlorophyll, that produces grass-green; and carotenoids, that produce yellow, orange, or red. These two photos illustrate the carotenoids.


Mustard Spring at Biscuit Basin
Mustard Spring at Biscuit Basin
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Copyright 2016 Jean Kennerson