People come to Yellowstone National Park for a variety of reasons. Many, like my oldest son come in search of the bears and other wildlife. The vast majority come for Old Faithful and the many other geysers in the park. Others, like myself, come for the beautiful rainbow of colors that burst forth from the geothermal hot springs within the park. In Yellowstone, it is safe to assume that where there is steam, there is a colorful spring somewhere nearby.
Scattered throughout the park, there are many different areas to view these vibrant pools. What causes the color? The answer is rather gross to some. Bacteria and other micro organisms actually cause bacterial mats that stretch out from the springs edges, and what color they are depend on the type of organism that can live in the temperatures found in each ring radiating from the pool’s center.
The first place we spotted on of these beautiful hot springs was our first day in Yellowstone at the Lower and Midway Geysers Basins where the largest hot spring of all is located, the Grand Prismatic. It was rather overcast the day we visited it, but the beauty lying under the rolling clouds of steam could still be seen.
Our second day in Yellowstone National Park we headed up to Mammoth Hot Springs and stopped at the Artist Paint Pots as well. While Mammoth Hot Springs may not feature as many colors, the feel you get there is otherworldly, and is almost akin to walking on the moon.
Another day of our trip found us at the West Thumb Geyser Basin. This is a unique area, in that it has the Yellowstone Lake as it’s background, with snow covered peaks rising in the distance from the Northeast side of the park.
There are boardwalks set up in each hot spring area throughout the park for you to walk around and enjoy the springs at your leisure. Be sure to keep hold of your items, because if they fall in you could be fined, and are not likely to get the items back. I cannot tell you how many hats we saw floating in hot springs. Temperatures in the springs are extremely hot, so be sure to watch your children carefully in these areas as well. You can view a Yellowstone Park map to see the various geyser basins and hot spring areas throughout the park.