Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mammoth Hot Springs and Roaring Mountain

  It was my last night in Yellowstone and, once again, I had to be a little cheeky about where I parked.  It was about 9 PM when I pulled into a restaurant parking lot across the street from this beautiful sculpture.  I parked way in the back of the lot, closed the shades and went right to sleep.  The next morning I peeked out the window and found another RoadTrek just like mine parked next to me.

I exchanged greetings with the other cheeky traveler then went on my way to explore this interesting display of terraces.

At the base of the mountain is this dormant hot springs dome called the Liberty Cap. It was named in 1871 because it resembled the caps worn by the fighters during the French Revolution.  It is 37 feet high and was created by a hot spring  that was forced up through the cap and deposited minerals over hundreds of years.
Hydrothermal features are rarities of nature and Yellowstone preserves the largest collection on the planet.  

The dominant mineral here is limestone.  Dormant terraces surround this entire area, including under the restaurant parking lot where I slept.
Maximum water temperature reaches 163 degrees F.

The colors change according to the type of organisms,  temperature of the water , the volume of water, and the slope of the ground.  

These terraces are like living sculptures that change constantly, and sometimes overnight. 

Heat loving microorganisms create the colorful tapestries where hot water flows across the terraces. 

 The terraces in the first photo above are only a small portion of those that can be seen by hiking the trails in this area of the park.

I skipped the hiking--the altitude and the hot steamy air were definitely slowing me down--but I would get peeks of vast terrace displays as I continued south along the road.

FUMEROLES...Fumeroles are often barely audible, but sometimes roar as steam rushes upward through narrow vents.  During the 1800s, Roaring Mountain was heard up to four miles away.

Early explorers describe this land as 'A place where hell bubbled up.'  The Indians thought the mountain was sacred and alive.  It is easy to see how, steam pours out in all parts of it and the mountain gets so warm that the trees struggle to live.

On my way south through the park I made a stop at Norris Geyser Basin and wanted to stay another night and explore--it was so vast.

But I had a timeline that I needed to follow so I will just have to come back again.  In almost 3 days I still failed to see The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, 150 or more waterfalls, none of the magnificent lodges, none of the museums or historic structures,  only a fraction of the geothermal features and not one grizzly bear.
I did see where the great forest fire of '88 came within a 1/2 mile of the town of West Yellowstone and burned 800,000 acres of forest. The trees are coming back in force and now fingers are crossed that the beetle stays away.  Nature is impetuous and cruel and there is no place more evident than in Yellowstone.


  1. This is fascinating. I'm so torn now between wanting to explore my own country and my new-found love for Sweden that I hardly know what to do!

  2. There is only one answer--do both! The more I explore this country, the more I realize there is to see. I expect never to be finished but I suppose it is more important that I never THINK I'm finished. I loved your postings on Sweden--now I have to add Sweden to my bucket list.