Our first view of Yellowstone

Buddy the Bison and Very Hot Springs

These travels occurred in late September/early October 2021. The posts are gathered under the ‘Travel’ category (top right of page) and numbered to indicate the order in which they should be read.

Post 6

Thursday evening we were in a hotel in West Yellowstone, Montana. When we were ordering dinner another (ahem) member of my party had Elk and Bison chili. I remember thinking we were here to *see* the local fauna, not eat it. I’ll admit that a day later I had Elk and Bison meatloaf… I understand my vegetarian friends a bit better now. And yes, it tasted a bit like beef. Someone explained that hunting is not allowed in the park and what is served is usually farm raised Elk and beefalo. Oh, and the difference between bison and buffalo? It is a difference without a distinction; they are the same. Bison is the more technical name and buffalo was derived from a name used by early French settlers and the locals modified it to buffalo.

On Friday morning we find a crisp 27 degrees outside but we will be on and off a bus for a 9 hour day beginning at 9 AM. Our Yellowstone Tours driver and Tour Guide Extraordinaire is Jesse, a local resident just overflowing with technical information and stories. He explained more about geology, hydrothermal sites and park lore than I could ever post. At one stop I asked about his background in the physical sciences. He explained he was a music teacher by training and his father was a musician in the park. He had been around the park his whole life and is obviously in love with it. A highly recommended 5 star rating for Yellowstone Tours and I sincerely hope you get Jesse. I posted a pic of their bright yellow bus with this post.

Yellowstone Park closes to tourist traffic in the winter and the roads are not plowed. They roll the snow and pack it down so the snow is as much as 3 feet deep on the road for most of the winter. Jesse explained the all wheel drive F550 bus we are on is then equipped with 55″ tires and is then a snowcoach. He is a winter tour guide as well and winter is his busiest time of the year.

We enter the park in just a few minutes and Jesse explains the entrance gate was moved farther into the park because the line to pay and enter was so long it was tying up traffic in downtown West Yellowstone.

The first thing we see is the Madison River and since it’s cool this morning and the river is fed by many geysers and hot springs, the rising mist made the landscape appear ghostly.

Next up is Beryl Spring. There are four types of geothermal features: hot springs, fumaroles, geysers and mud pots. I’ll let you look them up so I don’t get posted to FB jail for excessive verbosity. Although using a term like excessive verbosity might do it all by itself. (This was previously posted on Facebook.)

Beryl Spring is a fumarole (steam vent) and I attached a short video around here somewhere (Sound on – it is impressive). The steam is expelled, cools within a few feet and because it is around 27 degrees this morning, it cools and freezes on the boardwalk and tree branches. So we saw all 3 stages of water within a 20 foot area; steam, water and ice. The steam in the video runs 24 hours a day all year long.

Just a few miles down the road we finally see a bison. It is only about 30 yards from the road and as the driver announces it, a 4 year old girl on the bus exclaims “Hey Buddy!”. That brought chuckles from my fellow riders. I posted picture of Buddy accepting the accolades as only bison can. Any name with ‘Spring’ included denotes a hot spring; a very hot spring. Our driver measured the temperature of one at 155 degrees. Water boils at this elevation at 198 degrees. In the accompanying pictures you can see the colors of the water indicating different temperature ranges. Green means very hot because of the presence of bacteria that thrive at that temperature. As the colors change to orange or red, the water is still very hot, but cooler than where the green bacteria live. A blue spring indicates only very hot water where no bacteria can survive.

Terrance Spring bubbles constantly and the bubbles are not steam, but gases, mostly sulfur gas, yielding a rotten egg smell. As sulfur gas passes through water they combine to create sulfuric acid, making springs doubly dangerous.

A picture of the Yellowstone Tours bus.
Our Yellowstone Tours bus, in the winter with much larger tires it becomes a snowcoach

 A picture of Buddy the bison
Buddy the Bison
A picture of a very hot blue water spring
Blue water only; too hot for any bacteria
A picture of a blue water spring with a slightly cooler green water pool below.
Very hot blue water above, slightly cooler green water pool below indicating bacteria is present

Much more on Yellowstone in the next post including Old Faithful Geyser and stunning views of The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Published by barnberry

Well over aged 60 (well, OK, a lot more than that...) father of one outstanding young woman, unworthy husband of the most patient and talented woman in the world, retired small business owner, lover of all the wrong foods, political junkie and resident of NH. A conservative with a libertarian streak, and a thoughtful, impish, dedicated curmudgeon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: