Yellowstone, not Jellystone. Definitely different than Yogi Bear's top place to picnic.
It's a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the weirdest places on Earth. Truly otherworldly!
Yellowstone National Park is noted as the world's first National Park (although the folks up in Yosemite would beg to differ). It spans across 3 states (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming), with the vast majority in Wyoming.
It really is unlike any place I've visited. Remember science class? I know it was a while ago, so let me school you.
Volcanos. Deep below volcanos, you find this wicked hot stuff called magma that exists in this big underground chamber. Yellowstone is home to a wicked big 'supervolcano'. This wicked big volcano had a wicked big magma chamber. Think of a cave under the Earth's crust, "about 37 miles (60 km) long, 18 miles (29 km) wide, and 3 to 7 miles (5 to 12 km) deep".
In this chamber is water.
Magma is so hot it heats the water.
Sometimes gets so hot and steamy it needs to escape.
Kinda like a teapot.
Creates holes in the Earth.
These holes are geysers. (Remember them?)
Or, they create thermal pools.
Or, hot springs.
Scientists and geologists could give you a lot more info. But, that's the gist. Get it? Got it? Good.
Enough science. Let's just look at some of this madness!
Tons of wildlife in Yellowstone: Bison, Elk, Bears, Coyotes, Badgers, Moose, etc.
First place I visited was the Lower Basin. They call this the "ghost forest" cuz the trees have been killed by the geothermal features (hot springs are super salty and toxic, and btw, it smells like rotten eggs in a lot of these basins):
Looks like you could swim in this nice hot spring, right? WRONG. Death.
Really? Did you think I was going to blog about a national park and NOT include a waterfall?
I loved the Lower Basin, especially at sunset, but the Norris Basin was really otherworldly! Almost reminiscent of the Salt Flats in Bolivia.
I stopped briefly at the Midway Geyser Basin...huge cavernous pools, and some incredibly shallow pools featuring floors that look like stepped slate or something.
In the big pool, there was this weird phenomena where I saw a rainbow circle around my head in the steamy shadow of this pool. Can anyone science-splain this to me?
The Upper Basin is the main course for Yellowstone. Featuring everyone's favorite geyser: Old Faithful, which lives up to its name in every way. It used to erupt every ~30 mins or so, but after an earthquake years ago, it now is on a ~90 min schedule. Old Faithful's blowhole is only 4 inches wide.
Old Faithful gets so much love from park visitors, but the Upper Basin offers so much more than that! Again, I can't help but think this of this word: otherworldly.
Looks like a nice place for a dip, eh? (If you're into the whole sudden death thing)
This next snap shows the scale of some of these geysers. Granted, this one is slightly in the foreground compared to the people on the left, but not by that much. Some of these things are huge.
Just a coyote crossing the trail. "Don't mind me, just comin' through, doin' my scavenger thing."
My last experience before I left Yellowstone involved a Grizzly Bear mama and 2 little cubs and a heroic effort by me. (Not really. But let's go with it, k?) Full story in the video below:
Yellowstone is now 2nd on my list of U.S. National Parks, behind the Grand Canyon!
GO BOOK YOUR TRIP.
Wait, why are you waiting? :]
Next up: Grand Teton National Park and the story of how I came face to face with a black bear and cheated death!