We headed out before sunrise to Yellowstone National Park, hoping to hit most of the thermal areas on the way to Old Faithful. We ended up seeing quite a bit and walking for many hours. We didn’t visit all the places we were planning to, mainly because we tried to catch some geysers erupting. That wasn’t particularly successful today.
We saw these bison near the road as we were walking by. We’ve seen quite a few bison over the years so don’t always stop. But this time we did as its interesting to see them near thermal features.
Our first stop was Biscuit Basin. According to the sign by the parking lot, the name comes from biscuit-like features that were formed after an earthquake in 1959. This area has a boardwalk that goes through a cluster of thermal features. There is an easy trail at the far end that leads to a nice waterfall. It is possible to keep going but that was beyond our plans for today.
The adjacent Black Opal Spring and Black Diamond Pool both have a beautiful blue color! It was a bit early in the morning though and the light wasn’t great so it looks a bit bland.
A very vibrant green color due to plants growing in the hot water flowing away from one of the thermal pools.
The Sapphire Pool had an amazing blue color! Perhaps the most beautiful thermal feature we saw today! It was also amazingly clear, allowing one to peer down into the depths of the pool.
The Jewel Geyser was active as we walked by.
We walked by some interesting looking but inactive geysers.
There’s maybe a bit of mustard color here?
These two unidentified pools were quite clear and colorful.
There is a trailhead at the far side of the Biscuit Basin boardwalk. We took the route leading to the lower portion of Mystic Falls. The trail went through some varied terrain with some ups and downs along the way and views of the adjacent Little Firehole River.
Mystic Falls was quite impressive with multiple levels! Steam was visible as there were hot thermal vents along the river. We walked up a series of rock steps on the side to get a higher vantage point. The trail continued onward but we went as far as I felt was safe to go given that I had ACL reconstruction surgery a few months ago.
No idea where this name comes from!
A nice little thermal pool. These are pretty common. Not all of them have a sign indicating their name. It’s not clear if they’re unnamed or simply unlabelled.
This spring looked pretty dry when we walked by. Perhaps it is not actively outputting water all the time?
The view looks different everywhere you look! Some spots are covered with water while others are dry. Dead trees are pretty common in the thermal areas though.
Black Sand Basin
Our next stop was the Black Sand Basin, a smaller thermal area south of Biscuit Basin and near the entrance to the Old Faithful developed area.
We noticed this small geyser at the edge of the parking lot. It was actively erupting so we headed over to take a look. There’s no way to know which geysers are active all the time and which ones are not without reading up on them first so it’s always good to check out the ones that are showing activity!
This thermal pool was next to the Spouter Geyser. A nice mixture of colors and some ghostly dead trees.
Just a random little thermal feature with a bit of moss on the side.
Another small thermal feature with Iron Spring Creek and the Black Sand Basin boardwalk in the background.
The Cliff Geyser was active as we neared the bridge over the creek. There isn’t much of a cliff there! There were also colorful little streams of hot water flowing into the creek on our side.
We didn’t really notice any green at the Green Spring. Maybe too much steam coming off or insufficient light?
The hot water heated by the thermal features often leaves interesting colored pathways as it flows down into a river.
This little pool was actively bubbling a bit. Unfortunately it didn’t have a sign indicating a name.
There did appear to be a variety of colors around Rainbow Pool, though the steam made it difficult to see the pool’s color.
Would this large pool of water have looked better during the sunset? And why is it a lake and not a pool?
Just a pretty scene that we walked by.
This thermal pool did appear to have a bit of a dark emerald color.
Natural and man-made curves.
Upper Geyser Basin
After leaving Black Sand Basin, had a quick lunch and started walking towards Grand Geyser. We were hoping to catch its eruption but it turns out we missed it by 15 minutes! Luckily, there is cell service in this area so we were able to find out the last eruption time. We decided to head to Morning Glory Pool, seeing the thermal features along the way, and then return via the other side of the Firehole River.
Looking towards the many thermal features of the Upper Geyser Basin. A bit of the boardwalk is visible as well.
We watched Castle Geyser for awhile as it was actively spouting water. It didn’t seem like a full eruption, just a minor one that seemed to be continuous. There seemed to be multiple places where water was being pumped out. The small pool to the left of the geyser in the last photo is Tortoise Shell Spring.
Shield Spring was on the opposite side of the path from Castle Geyser. No idea where it’s name comes from. The water was very clear, allowing us to see deep inside.
Crested Pool, perhaps because of the slightly raised edge around it? An interesting appearance for sure.
Just another nice scene.
Daisy Geyser’s mentions that this geyser erupts at an angle. It definitely seemed interesting and different. We looked it up on Geyser Times and discovered that it spouts roughly every two hours and sixteen minutes and that it was just about due! We decided to wait for it. We waited, and waited, and waited. There are actually a number of geysers next to Daisy and a few of them would occasionally put out a bit of water but nothing major. Eventually, we figured either it was very late, out of cycle, or it actually erupted a bit early and we just missed it.
Later on, as we were passing by Chromatic Pool, we happened to see a geyser erupting in the distance. Daisy Geyser! We missed it! We should have checked the time as we could have been there! I tried to switch lenses quickly to the telephoto but my battery also happened to run out at that exact time. Ultimately, by the time I was able to take a photo, it was over. So sad!
After leaving Daisy Geyser, we decided to keep going a bit to check out Punch Bowl Spring. It kind of does look something like a punch bowl. This is probably a feature that not many people see as even though it isn’t really that far from Old Faithful, it is out of the way a bit.
This appears to be a very large and now dead thermal feature.
Grotto Geyser was continuously erupting as we walked by. According to its sign, it has larger eruptions up to 40 feet. We watched this interestingly shaped geyser for awhile before moving on.
Yet another geyser where we wonder how it got its name!
A very clear little pool. Unfortunately it does not appear to have a name.
There appear to be multiple vents where steam is coming out here. The one in the middle is probably Mortar Geyser as indicated by the sign on the ground. Does it lob water into the sky like a mortar?
This absolutely stunning pool is the furthest point that we walked to today. Definitely worth the trek! The color is amazing and the water is so clear! Unfortunately, it is closely surrounded by a wooden viewing platform.
Spiteful Geyser is somewhere in this photo. It isn’t clear exactly where the spout is. Perhaps where the water is bubbling near the bottom right? And, how did this geyser get its name?
A few thermal features that looked attractive as we backtracked towards Grotto Geyser. None of them seemed to be named.
A little cluster of geysers. There are three labelled – Bijou, Catfish, and Mastiff. The much bigger one to the right is Giant Geyser. According to the sign, it is one of the largest in the world, erupting up to 300 feet. It erupts perhaps once a week and with a good amount of variance, making it something that we’d only ever see if extremely lucky. We did not see it erupt.
This is Oblong Geyser. Possibly because of the shape of its pool?
Heated thermal water entering the Firehole River by where we crossed via a bridge.
Definitely a pretty little pool! There are also other interesting colors nearby.
Beauty Pool is linked with Chromatic Pool underground. We know this from reading the sign!
Definitely an odd name!
Grand Geyser, the one we were hoping to see erupt when we arrived at Upper Geyser Basin. It was outputting a little bit of water and steam. Unfortunately, the next eruption would have been a bit past sunset.
Earlier in the afternoon, as we were walking towards Morning Glory Pool, we saw a lone bison in the distance walking slowly near the thermal features across the river. This is possibly that bison! We saw it slowly walking and munching on grass near Grand Geyser.
What makes this little pool Belgian?
This tiny little unnamed geyser was spouting water near the boardwalk. We had to walk through its mist to get by. It was cold, having lost any heat that it had when exiting the ground.
One, or maybe both, of these holes in the ground is Spasmodic Geyser. Yet another interesting name. The texture on the ground near the geysers is also interesting.
Penta Geyser probably gets its name from its multiple vents. However, that is not why this geyser was interesting. When it sprayed, the water and mist created a rainbow! Or rather a geyserbow! Very pretty! The sun just happened to be behind us as we were watching it erupt.
The source of this geyser’s name was definitely unclear. It did not exhibit any sawmill-like behavior or emit any sawmill-like sounds.
Some interesting color on the ground hear as thermally heated water flowed by.
Is this geyser always late? We didn’t try to find out!
Once again, source of name unclear. But the pool was rather clear! The developed Old Faithful area, including hotel, are visible in the background.
A similar looking but different pool.
Having failed miserably at Daisy Geyser, we tried again with Lion Geyser. Unfortunately, we likely had just missed its eruption. But we did figure out why it has its name. It roars like a lion! Unfortunately it didn’t do so very frequently.
Later on in the afternoon, we kept an eye on Lion Geyser from a distance as we were waiting for Old Faithful to erupt. Unfortunately, we didn’t see Lion erupt.
This colorful spring was right next to Lion Geyser. We snapped a few photos as we were waiting for Lion to erupt. It doesn’t really look like goggles. Maybe it did in the past?
This one does make sense!
This one does not make sense.
No idea about this name! The texture on the ground under the little pool of water is interesting and different.
It it because it is two connected pools? Yes!
More interesting patterns and colors on the ground.
Pump Geyser was bubbling a bit as we walked by.
Is it supposed to be reminiscent of a sea anemone?
This unnamed pool of water was bubbling.
It was pretty late by the time we ended up at Old Faithful. We weren’t going to wait to watch it erupt as we’ve seen it before. But we ended up seeing it anyway as it was about time for it to go after we finished with the Yellowstone Forever store in the visitor center.
We ultimately spent around five hours at the Upper Geyser Basin. Quite a long time!