Geyser ponds of Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is not a subtle place. It includes the caldera of one of the largest known volcanoes. It's a refuge for the largest and most impressive wild animals left in North America. It's big, colourful, and at times surreal.

Sulphurous hot springs, blue and yellow

Edge of a hot spring at Yellowstone lower basin

Turquoise pool at Yellowstone lower geyser basin

Small geyser erupts over sulphur mounds

In many cases, there is no sense of scale. The regions shown below could be nearly microscopic, or they could span many kilometres; there's no frame of reference. (These frames actually span a metre or two.)

Mud flats

Sunlight glistening off wet mud

Water draining from a hot spring over gravel

The Grand Prismatic Spring at the Midway basin is among the most colourful natural features I've ever seen. The iridescent turquoise water is ringed by sulphurous yellow, which is itself surrounded by bright red and orange bacterial mats.

Blue, yellow and orange hot spring

Bacterial mats in the Midway Basin hot springs

Grand Prismatic Spring

Red, blue and green at Yellowstone hot spring

The pool of the Excelsior Geyser almost glows with vivid turquoise and blue hues. This particular geyser often lies nearly dormant for decades at a time before becoming violently active. Even when dormant, it churns out about 15,000 litres of boiling water per minute, and is constantly steaming.

Vivid blue pond of the Excelsior geyser, ringed by rocks

Rock wall of the Excelsior geyser pool

Two completely different classes of life share a single stream here: the green plants we're all familiar with, and the unique, colourful sulphur-loving bacteria that are found in the geyser ponds.

Green plants share a river with orange bacterial mats

And we can't forget Old Faithful, that iconic jet of water that draws tourists from all over the continent.

Old Faithful erupts

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