We arrived via the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park late in the afternoon, less than two hours before sunset. Not much time at all! We decided to hit some of the thermal features just south of Madison Junction.
Firehole Canyon Drive
We headed right to Firehole Canyon Drive, a one way half loop off of the main road. Unfortunately, it was closed! We decided to continue on to the south.
Fountain Flats Drive
Our first stop was Fountain Flats Drive, a rather short road that leads to a trail along a now closed old road. There was a nice little thermal pool that empties out into the adjacent river off to the side of the road. Unfortunately there wasn’t really enough time to explore much further so we returned to the main road and headed south.
Fountain Paint Pots
The next stop was the Fountain Paint Pots, a nice thermal area with some interesting features and a well maintained boardwalk.
The namesake feature is the Fountain Paint Pots, a cluster of thermal vents that cause mud to splatter upwards.
Some of the other features put out a bit of steam along with some noise and a little bit of water.
This geyser seems to be constantly erupting. I remember this one from previous visits. Apparently it is linked to the adjacent geyser which was not active while we were there today. Once the other geyser erupts, the Spasm Geyser will be quiet for awhile as it recharges.
These dead trees caught my eye. Yellowstone is full of scenes like this with ghostly trees that have been overcome by the forces of nature.
The ground is often interesting to look at, particularly when covered with a thin layer of water.
The light was pretty variable with the sun peeking out from behind the clouds every once in awhile. This was one such nicely illuminated scene of a thermal pool between the boardwalk and the road.
We also had nice light for this scene, a large area covered with a thin layer of water, again between the boardwalk and the road.
Thermal pools are a very common feature in Yellowstone. Many of them have a nice blue color and give off steam.
Firehole Lake Drive
Our final destination of the afternoon was Firehole Lake Drive, a one way half loop with a number of small thermal features. We skipped the namesake Firehole Lake as it was getting a bit dark. We’ll see if we have time to hit it another day.
This little pool was quite clear with beautiful color. It was also right by the road.
Another pretty pool right next to the road! This one was giving off a bit of steam.
This little thermal pool, named Surprise Pool, was boiling at the edges a bit but did not surprise us in any way.
The Great Fountain Geyser had a small viewing area with benches. There was also a sign that indicates possible eruption times, however, it was not filled in. Unfortunately, there is no cell service in most of the park so we couldn’t see if there were any predicted times on Geyser Times. There seems to be an eruption interval of roughly 10 to 13 hours for this geyser. Unfortunately the last recorded time was three days ago, likely because visitation is very low during this time of year.
The sun was mostly blocked by the clouds while we were looking at this geyser. It did briefly come out a little as we were watching. The second photo shows just a bit of illumination from the sun. We also photographed the interesting looking ground at the base of the geyser near the boardwalk.
We captured this photo of White Dome Geyser as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds for the last time this afternoon. A minute or two after this photo was taken, the sun went down behind the clouds and the trees. The eruption times for this geyser appear to be all over the place!
This geyser next to the road had a rather interesting foreground and a nice sky with a tad of color. It appears to erupt about once a day.