Yellowstone National Park

The following is a transcript of Finley-Holiday Films The Complete Yellowstone DVD.

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Available in Gift Shops throughout Yellowstone National Park and Online here. Click box to go to the store to purchase this video.

In the northwest corner of Wyoming lies Yellowstone National Park, the oldest, largest, and most popular national park in the country. Few places on earth offer so much scenic and scientific interest in one area.

We are in the heart of the Rockies, a land of pine-clad mountains and broad, grassy valleys. The countryside is laced with lakes and streams of exquisite beauty.

The popular west entrance to Yellowstone follows the winding Madison River, a route followed by the earliest pioneers into the park. It leads to the Grand Loop Road that will take us to all of the park’s major features.

In addition to superb mountain scenery, the park is one of the world’s principal wildlife preserves.

Many visitors eagerly await the opportunity to observe and photograph wildlife in its native environment. Yellowstone is a photographer’s paradise.

The American Black Bear is an extremely strong and powerful animal. He constantly searches for food – insects in rotted tree trunks, fish, rodents, berries and wildflowers. He is an omnivore – he eats anything.

Black Bear comes in several colors, including black, brown and cinnamon.

Adult males average 250 pounds, but can weigh as much as 500 pounds. Females usually weigh a little less.

If you see a bear, keep your distance, not only for yourself but for the bear. Bears accustomed to close human presence often become aggressive and wind up in conflict – leading to the bear being destroyed.

Moose are found here, too. They browse for hours on aquatic plants. Their diet is entirely vegetarian. Moose are the largest of the deer family.

A bull moose can weigh over 1,000 pounds, their large size and huge antlers make them one of the most impressive animals in North America.

The trumpeter swan is found along lakes and rivers. These graceful creatures are a pleasure to watch.

There seems to be countless species of animals here, such as the Marmot

Yellow-bellied sapsucker
Mountain bluebird
Red-tailed hawk
Canada Geese

The American Dipper is a remarkable bird. It’s also called a “water ouzel.”

Dippers actually walk underwater, feeding on aquatic insects.

Slate gray in color, they can be found along fast-moving sections of water.

They are usually perched on a rock, dipping and diving into the current.

The skittish but fascinating Coyote is always on the prowl. They can be seen hunting for voles, a small rodent much like a mouse.

coyotepubThis young Coyote pup has ventured out on his own in a sunny meadow, still wary of his new surroundings.

Rocky Mountain Elk, or Wapiti, are found in herds of a dozen or more. They’re by far the most common animals here. Thousands live in the park.

June brings with it the energy of early summer.

Its morning, and cows and their young calves are full of energy.

Elk are watchful for predators. But wolves and grizzlies aren’t the only threat to survival.

A young elk struggles to cross the river.

The youngsters are the same as youngsters everywhere, full of fun, and fun to watch.

The bull elk is a surprisingly large animal, weighing from 700 to 1000 pounds and standing 5 feet at the shoulders. It’s a member of the deer family and second in size only to the moose.

Bull elk have antlers that they shed every winter and re-grow each spring.

Elk are powerful and unpredictable animals. For your safety and the health of the animals, don’t approach wildlife no matter how tame or “approachable” they may appear.

Early July brings wildflowers of all kinds.

Flowers are everywhere.
Arrowleaf balsam root
Wild iris

A Pika is a tiny rock-dweller that likes cold climates. It has tiny rounded ears and although it looks like a rodent, it is more closely related to rabbits.

It lives in rocky hillsides and crevices, giving to its nickname – rock rabbit.

Pikas are herbivores, and feed on a wide variety of plants.

This pristine beauty that distinguishes Yellowstone faced a great threat in 1988. That year, heat from unrestrained wildfires rapidly and dramatically changed the landscape of America’s oldest National Park.

The “Siege of 88” was a battle that Yellowstone will never forget. That year, Yellowstone’s magnificent Conifer forests were in the throes of an extreme drought.

It was the driest season in the park’s one-hundred sixteen year history. Record lows in snowpack, humidity, and rain resulted in explosive fire conditions. And the rains that normally extinguish summer fires never came.

In late June, small lightning strike fires were growing at an alarming rate. Some feared the blazes would destroy the pristine forests and irreplaceable natural formations that make Yellowstone the crown jewel of national parks. By August, the park was facing its darkest hour. Thousands of firefighters, along with countless vehicles and aircraft, were no match for this fury.

On August 20tth – known as Black Saturday – more square miles burned in a 24-hour period than in any decade since 1872. Firefighters were repeatedly forced to retreat from the advancing flames.

The intense fire activity even threatened the historic Old Faithful Inn and surrounding complex. But the valiant effort of firefighters, along with a sudden wind shift, saved the Inn. In the next few weeks, an early-September snow storm began to help extinguish the flames.

All together, about one-point-four million acres burned in the Yellowstone region, including nearly eight-hundred-thousand acres within the park.

Fewer than 300 large animals died during the fire. In the long run, the wildlife and the entire Yellowstone ecosystem will benefit in many ways.

The flames often burned in patchwork patterns, leaving large areas of forest unscathed. This “opening up” of the forest canopy helped increase the variety of plant and wildlife communities.

Ash left behind by the fires sent a pulse of energy into the ecosystem, providing plants and animals with precious nutrients.

And trees, such as Lodgepole Pine, depend on fires to regenerate. Intense heat causes their cones to explode, dropping seeds into the fertile soil.

Fire gives birth to a new generation of forest. Even the dead trees, or snags, play an important role. Woodpeckers and other birds thrive on the insects that are drawn to the dead wood. Snags that fall into rivers and streams slow the current and improve trout habitat.

After the smoke of 1988 cleared, it was apparent that much of the park was untouched by flame. But for the affected areas, the fires were a fresh start for the Yellowstone ecosystem. A new beginning – necessary to ensure the survival of the very forests that were burned.

fireholefallsTraveling south on the Main Loop Road, the highway carries us to the Firehole River cascades.

The Firehole River is our connection to the most famous and almost certainly the most popular section in all of Yellowstone.

Our route takes us through a series of great basins beginning with the Lower Geyser Basin. Columns of billowing steam balloon on all sides.

The meandering Firehole River slowly winds its way through the basin’s terrain.

The road brings us close to the popular Fountain Paint Pots.

There are pools of colorful hot mud that bubble and sputter like pudding boiling in a pan.

The mud is a mixture of silica, clay, and water. Bubbles are formed by superheated carbon dioxide gas rising from magma, the molten rock that exists deep within the earth.

Here and in all hydrothermal areas of the park, the magma has direct visible connections with the surface.

The geothermal activity in here is a result of volcanism.

Yellowstone sits on one of the world’s largest active volcanoes.

To understand the forces that power the geyser fields of Yellowstone, we need to examine elements deep within the earth.

The earth’s inner core is surrounded by an outer core of hot liquid magma, which is, in turn, surrounded by the mantle, and finally the thin surface crust.

In Yellowstone, it is a unique geological feature known as a “hot spot” that is of special interest. These are sources of immense heat anchored within the mantle.

About 600 thousand years ago, a hot spot sent a column of molten magma toward the surface, forming a shallow magma chamber.

As the magma chamber grew, it pushed upward into the crust forming a large dome.

Cracks formed around the edge of the dome, causing one of the most violent eruptions the earth has ever known.

With the removal of hundreds of cubic miles of molten rock, the roof of the dome collapsed, forming a one thousand square mile crater, or caldera!

Lava began to flow into the caldera and continued off and on for the next 500,000 years. It is this still-active volcanic area that provides the heat source for Yellowstone’s thermal features.

In lower geyser basin, this volcanic heat explodes into a ballet of water and steam. On Firehole Lake Drive, Great Fountain Geyser erupts with huge fan-like bursts of 100 to 150 feet high. It is a “fountain type” geyser, erupting from a pool of water like a fountain.

Nearby, White Dome Geyser is a tall, cone-type geyser that sits conspicuously over the basin.

It erupts regularly, and can be counted on for a certain artistry in its plume.

A “Cone-type” geyser erupts from a small opening that acts much like a nozzle.

The cone itself is formed of a gray-white mineral deposit of silica, known as geyserite. This same mineral, also called sinter, covers the surface of most of the geyser basins.

Nearby Sawmill is related to Grand and is also a fountain geyser, characterized by the splashing action of its eruptions.

The chill of early morning produces large columns of steam rising from Grand Prismatic Springs and Excelsior Geyser – two of the largest thermal features in the world.

This is the heart of Midway Geyser Basin.

Excelsior Geyser, when it was active, was the largest geyser in the world.

Today it is called Excelsior Geyser Crater, and alone pours an incredible four thousand gallons of scalding water a day into the Firehole River.

Grand Prismatic Spring, at 370 feet in diameter, is the largest hot spring in North America.

Its algae and bacteria-colored runoff channels radiate from its blue-green pool.

From above, it is the basin’s most spectacular feature.

Black Sand Basin is part of the upper basin and lies on the edge of Iron Spring Creek. The most noted geyser here is Cliff Geyser, named for its cliff-like wall that borders Iron Spring Creek.

While geysers vary tremendously, the mechanics of their eruptions are very much alike. A geyser has a surface vent and a natural pocket deep in the earth that forms a sort of plumbing system lined and sealed by the mineral silica. The water is ejected when it is heated past a certain point by hot magma below, forcing the water through a constriction.

To many visitors, the Upper Geyser Basin – the Old Faithful area – is the heart and soul of Yellowstone.

Historic Old Faithful Inn holds a special place in the great lodges of America’s national parks.

Built in 1903 and 04, the Old Faithful Inn was designed by architect Robert C. Reamer.

It is a masterpiece of rustic architecture and craftsmanship to say the least. The building is a log and wood-frame structure with gigantic proportions: nearly 700 feet in length at seven stories high.

The lobby has a 65-foot ceiling, a massive fireplace, and railings of contorted lodgepole pine. Its incredibly large space can be experienced on different levels and from different vantage points. Today it is a National Historic Landmark.

Visiting Yellowstone, you can’t help but feel a connection to the past – to an era where adventurous travel was done in style and grace.

Visitors then shared many of the same experiences shared by visitors today.

Yellowstone has a long tradition of tourism.

Marveling at Yellowstone’s wonders and wildlife is a tradition as old as the park itself

No visit to Yellowstone is complete without witnessing an eruption of Old Faithful.

There are geysers that erupt higher and for longer periods of time. But rarely is the tremendous power of nature so inseparably combined with its innate beauty.

Beehive Geyser is so named because of the similarity of its cone to a beehive. It is a major geyser, erupting with a jet-like plume.

There are scores of famous and fascinating natural features to behold here.

If any geyser in the upper basin is worth waiting for… it is Grand.

Grand Geyser erupts from a pool, and is the tallest predictable geyser in the world.

Grand begins with a long series of powerful bursts that can last several minutes.

Eruptions may reach heights of 200 feet or more!

For visitors that witness these stunning eruptions, it is an experience they’ll not soon forget.

Grotto Geyser is one of the best known features of the Upper Basin. Its oddly shaped cone may have formed from geyserite covering the trunks of ancient trees.

Morning Glory Pool is among the most beautiful in Yellowstone. It has the trumpet shape of a morning glory blossom and is an exquisite shade of blue-green.

Castle Geyser was named for the large, distinctive cone that has formed around its vent, shaped roughly like the ruined tower of an old castle.

Castle’s eruptions shoot as high as 85 feet.

Walking the trails of the basins can provide a marvelous new experience for even the most seasoned travelers. Plumes of steam against a deep blue sky; the odor of hydrogen sulfide and the feeling of warm spray blowing against your cheek.

Wildlife don’t seem to mind the geothermal features at all.

Remember, always keep a safe distance from wildlife. Never approach a wild animal.

The loop road from Old Faithful takes us towards West Thumb and passes the striking Kepler Cascades, where water tumbles down step-like ledges between steep canyon walls.

Remarkable Isa Lake, with its lily pads and blossoms, straddles the Continental Divide at Craig Pass.

West Thumb Geyser Basin sits on the edge of Yellowstone Lake. It has no spectacular geysers. It is the lakeside hot pools that gives this place its special allure. Boardwalks lead a leisurely stroll through the area.

The basin’s unusual name comes from early explorers who thought if the lake was shaped like a hand, then this westernmost bay stuck out like a thumb.

The scalding water of the hot pools is often a transparent emerald or turquoise color.

As recently as 1991, Black Pool really was black, but its rising water temperature has killed the dark algae that gave the pool its name.

Yellowstone Lake is one of the most beautiful in the world.

Stands of Fir and Spruce trees surround the lake.

Over 7,700 feet, it’s the largest lake in all of North America at this elevation. It covers an area of 131 square miles and is 410 feet in its deepest spot.

This is believed to be the first boat ever to set sail on Yellowstone Lake. William Henry Jackson took this photograph on July 28, 1871 during the Hayden Geological Survey.

The original Lake Yellowstone Hotel opened in 1891. Built by the Northern Pacific Railroad, it was not particularly distinctive.

In 1903, Robert Reamer, architect of the Old Faithful Inn, masterminded the renovation of Lake Yellowstone Hotel. That renovation and further changes in 1929, including the addition of the porte-cochere, created the gracious landmark we see today.

Its distinctive color is the same bright yellow that greeted visitors in the 1920’s.

One of Yellowstone’s most famous landmarks is Fishing Bridge, located near Lake Village. Years ago anglers stood here shoulder to shoulder. But because the river mouth is a trout spawning area, the practice was stopped.

The Loop Road continues, now northward, following along the slow moving Yellowstone River.

The extraordinary beauty of this land is reflected in quiet waters,…

… and savored by fishermen along its banks.

Mud Volcano area features the Dragon’s Mouth, where bursts of scalding water and billowing steam are shot from the mouth of a small cavern under a cliff.

Mud Volcano itself is a constantly seething, bubbling mass of gray mud. The whole scene suggests that we’ve been given a glimpse into the underworld itself.

Hayden Valley is a far brighter and more cheerful place. A soothing contrast to turbulent Mud Volcano.
Quiet now, the great river winds its slow course through open meadows and rolling hills.

Wildlife graze here in great numbers.

A Bald Eagle.

Many visitors to Yellowstone hope to see a Grizzly Bear. Threatened by extinction, and faced with a shrinking habitat, Grizzlies require expansive open space to survive.

Grizzlies are larger than black bears, are more powerful, and faster.

Like the black bear, they vary in color from dark brown to cinnamon to blonde.

Compared to a black bear, the face of a grizzly is slightly curved from the forehead to the nose, while a black bear’s face is a straight line from its forehead to its nose.

Mature grizzlies have a hump on the shoulder. This is a massive muscle that helps them dig for food.

Like the black bear, they are omnivores. Eighty-five percent of a grizzly bear’s diet consists of vegetables – including roots, grasses and berries.

Grizzlies once roamed all the western states. They were hunted almost to extinction. Today, not counting Alaska, there are only about one-thousand, three hundred grizzlies in small groups in four Northwestern states.

Grizzlies can run between 35 and 40 miles an hour – twice the speed of most humans, an amazing feat for an animal that can weigh as much as 700 pounds.

It is not unusual for them to travel 20 or 30 miles in a day.

Two coyotes harass a grizzly bear that has come too near their den.

Grizzly bears are the very symbol of wilderness.

Buffalo herds roam Hayden Valley. Their true name is the American bison – largest of all the land mammals in North America.

The massive bulls may weigh 2000 pounds. Yet they are quick and agile, galloping at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.

Bison give birth to a single calf in spring that will stay with its mother for about a year.

Occasionally visitors witness the adventure of a road and river crossing by these giants. It’s an experience you won’t forget.

Only 200 years ago, millions of buffalo roamed the Great Plains. But by the 1920’s, wild bison had been slaughtered to near extinction. Those that were left, fewer than 30 wild bison, found their refuge here in Yellowstone.

Through decades of dedicated conservation efforts, healthy populations of free-roaming bison now live in Yellowstone, Grand Teton and elsewhere. We have restored a vision of what once was.

Leaving Hayden Valley, nothing can prepare you for the two great falls of the Yellowstone River.
The river roars over Upper Falls in a dizzying drop. At the brink, visitors grip the railing as the torrent surges past.

It isn’t the height alone – Upper Falls is just over 100 feet high. Here, you can feel the power of the river roaring off the cliff.

A quarter-mile downstream, Lower Falls roars over an ancient flow of lava.

At 308 feet high, it is twice the height of Niagara Falls.

Set in its canyon of yellow stone, this magnificent waterfall is one of the grandest sights in America.

A network of hiking trails lead to great viewing spots to just sit, relax and take it all in.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is huge. It is from eight to twelve hundred feet deep and over twenty miles long.

Just a mile or so away at Canyon Junction lies the Canyon Education Visitor Center. Its purpose is to help visitors understand Yellowstone and the geologic research it supports.

Using state of the art interactive exhibits, the center explains how Yellowstone became known as the largest volcano on earth and what that means to its unique ecosystem.

A life size relief model highlights the park’s geologic history.

An 8,000 pound globe shows you where the global volcanic hots spots are located.

At the information desk, park rangers provide visitors with basic and in depth information.

Joining the junior ranger program can be a fun way for kids to learn to be aware of what means to protect our national parks.

The highest point on the loop road is reached near Mount Washburn. This imposing mountain rises to an elevation of 10,243 feet above sea level.

To the east is classic Yellowstone landscape – wilderness for as far as the eye can see.

This is prime Grizzly bear habitat.

Grizzly bears rarely attack people unprovoked. But a mother grizzly with her cub has the protective instincts that make it an animal to be avoided.

This mother grizzly has a fast-growing yearling cub. Within a year, it will leave her protection and strike off on its own.

A rare sight: A mother grizzly reclines to allow her cub to nurse.

Tower Falls is almost within the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It is a narrow falls, formed where Tower Creek plunges 132 feet over a rocky precipice into a shadowy canyon.

Calcite Springs along the Yellowstone River marks the downstream end of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

An overlook perched on the edge gives a birds-eye view into the Narrows.

Steep, columnar basalt cliffs are remnants of an ancient lava flow.

The gorge and cliffs provide habitat for numerous wildlife species including red-tailed hawks, osprey and bighorn sheep.

Nearby Overhanging Cliff looms over the road.

On the opposite side of the canyon, a geology class from Yellowstone Institute heads out on the Yellowstone River Picnic Trail.

Ascending the eastern lip of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, wildflowers abound.

Views of from the ridge are breathtaking.

From the top, you can peer down into the Narrows, 800 feet below.

Calcite Springs comes into view.

The group continues on towards Specimen Ridge.

Yellowstone has so much to experience. There’s no better way than to get out on the trail, and see what discoveries are around the next bend.

Here, an elk skeleton lies in the grass of early summer. The group examines it like forensic investigators, looking for clues to its life and death.

It was guessed that it was an older female, in poor health – probably a victim of the harsh winter.

This is a good area to watch for bighorn sheep.

They feed mainly on grasses, flowers, young plants and leaves.

Male Bighorn are called rams. Mature males have large curved horns. The females are ewes, and have short pointed horns.

The bottom of their hooves are concave, making them extremely sure-footed on any terrain.

Roosevelt Lodge is named for one of America’s great conservation champions, President Teddy Roosevelt. Around the turn of the century, he camped not far away.

During the summer, colorful stagecoaches depart from Roosevelt Lodge for a nostalgic, historic look at Yellowstone.

To the east is Lamar Valley. It is a broad, u-shaped valley, smoothed by glacier’s eons ago. To many, this is the Serengeti of Yellowstone. Herds of Elk and Buffalo roam in what is the closest you’ll ever come to seeing the West as it once was – vast, wild and untamed.

There is history here, too. Lamar Buffalo Ranch began as literally that – from 1907 to 1952 the ranch raised buffalo back from the brink of extinction to increase the park herd size.

Today, the Buffalo Ranch is home to Yellowstone Association Institute, the non-profit organization dedicated to study and preservation of Yellowstone’s legacy.

Visitors can sign up for classes that are as much adventure as learning.
Expert guides lead you to special places and adventures where Mother Nature provides the classroom.


“So this pack, the Slough Creek pack, it often times gets into conflict with other packs, so I’ll be checking other signals from some of the surrounding packs as well just in case the other wolves might be moving into this area.”

This “field seminar” heads out for some morning wolf watching.

Wolves are a legendary predator shrouded in mystery and controversy.

For seventy years this iconic symbol of the wild had been virtually wiped out.

Now, since 1995, wolves have been restored as an active part of the ecosystem providing a presence of predators that was missing in Yellowstone.

Wolf watching is a favorite pastime in Lamar Valley.

Spotting scopes and binoculars are the best way to observe the wildlife dramas that play out daily here.


“She walked around back and forth on the south side of the river and then swam the river and literally ran across the road. We worry about that quite a bit.”

Heading towards Mammoth Hot Springs, Blacktail Deer Plateau is dotted with Ponds and streams.

Floating Island Lake is a favorite browsing spot for moose.

The lake is also the nesting home to a pair of Sandhill Cranes.

Trying to feed in peace, the family is harassed by a persistent blackbird.

The village of Mammoth Hot Springs, nestled at the foot of snow-capped mountains, is the location of park headquarters. Yellowstone was our nation’s first national park, established in 1872.

The red roofed buildings you see today are part of historic Fort Yellowstone. It was 1886 when the U.S. Cavalry was called upon to protect the new national park.

Historic Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel has a charm that reflects its special place in Yellowstone history.

Here, the first of Yellowstone’s “grand hotels” was built to offer visitors modern amenities in the wilderness.

The year was 1883 and it was called the National Hotel.

Today, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel carries on the tradition. After a long day exploring, return to the hotel and enjoy a good meal and rest your muscles for the next day’s adventures!

Each morning, Mammoth is a bustle of visitor activity.

Across the street, a junior ranger program helps kids and families learn about the importance of continued protection of the wolf and other endangered species in Yellowstone.

The major thermal feature at Mammoth is an area not of geysers, but of flowing hot springs.

These delicately sculptured terraces are ever-changing wonders of the mineral world.

They are composed of travertine, a bright white mineral deposited by heated water. Their colorings come from microorganisms and algae growing in the hot water.

Active springs glow with color.

Boardwalks through the terraces provide stunning vantage points.

Orange Spring Mound’s large size and unique shape are the result of very slow water flow from its spring.

Liberty Cap is one of the most striking formations at Mammoth. It formed during a period when a hot spring flowed from its top.

The North entrance to Yellowstone reaches Mammoth via Roosevelt Arch and Gardner Canyon.

Roosevelt Arch that spans the North Entrance has been greeting visitors since 1903.

Back then, guests arrived by train on the Northern Pacific Railroad.

The inscription across the arch is from the legislation creating Yellowstone, signed in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant – “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.”

The arch bears the name of President Teddy Roosevelt – a staunch conservationist – who dedicated the arch and laid the cornerstone in 1903.

Pronghorn are frequently found here. Pronghorn are not an antelope, as they are so often called. They are a distinctive American species.

They are unique in that they shed their horns and that the horns grow on both the male and female. They can reach burst speeds of 50 miles per hour or more.

Traveling south on the Grand Loop Road from Mammoth towards Norris Basin, we pass through virgin wilderness and the famous Golden Gate, a narrow notch in the yellow-tinted cliffs.

The road opens to Swan Lake Flats, and sweeping views of the Gallatin Range.

Sheepeater Cliffs are a textbook example of columnar basalt – a lava flow from the prehistoric Yellowstone Caldera.

It’s a likely place to see Marmots.

Looking much like a beaver with a furry tail, marmots are a member of the squirrel family.

They live in small communities and are highly social. Like ground squirrels, they use loud whistles to communicate with each other.

Sheepeater Cliffs was given its unique name in 1879 by Philetus Norris for the Sheepeater Indian tribe that called Yellowstone home.

Norris was the second superintendent of Yellowstone – the first to be paid for that position.

Roaring Mountain was named for a steam vent that roared in 1902. The fumarole-pocked mountain has an almost unearthly quality.

Norris Geyser Basin is the only geyser basin on the Northern Loop. It is one of the hottest, most dynamic hydrothermal areas in Yellowstone.

It is part of one of the world’s largest volcanoes and each year new hot springs and geysers appear while others become dormant. Change and fluctuation is a constant here.

Today, a Yellowstone Institute class heads out to explore Norris’s Back Basin.

The beautiful color of Emerald Spring combines blue of reflected sunlight with yellow of its sulfur-coated bottom.

Norris Basin is the home of the tallest geyser in Yellowstone: Steamboat Geyser. Major eruptions occur infrequently, sporadically – but can reach an incredible height of 300 feet or more – three times the height of Old Faithful.

Almost daily it sputters and steams with minor eruptions.

Cistern Spring is connected to the underground plumbing of Steamboat Geyser, a fact confirmed in 1983 when Cistern began emptying after each major eruption of Steamboat.

The trees around the spring are dead – killed by the silica-rich waters of Cistern.

Today the surface temperature of Cistern is 146 degrees Fahrenheit – and much hotter below.

Compare that to a typical home hot tub temperature of 102 degrees, and you can imagine the scalding danger in these pools.

Stay on established walkways for your safety and to protect the fragile formations that have grown here for thousands of years.

Pearl Geyser is named for its opalescent pool.

Many of the different colors you see here are evidence of thermophiles – heat-loving microorganisms.

Different water temperatures and chemistry affect the color and kind of thermophiles that live in the water.

Yellow typically contains sulphur, the rotten egg order. They form mats and streamers like waving clumps of hair in the hottest runoff.

Dark brown, rust and red indicate iron. These organism communities live typically in water below 140 degrees.

Green mats contain algae and chlorophyll, a green pigment that converts sunlight to energy.

Dark blackish-green mats form in even cooler water.

A thermal grass grows here only in spots with just the right conditions.

In one short boardwalk, there is so much to see.

Porkchop Geyser. Porkchop exploded in 1989, upending huge rocks and throwing others 200 feet from its base.

Green Dragon Spring. Blue Mud Steam Vent. Crater Spring

Echinus Geyser is one of the larger features. Its runoff channels are colored orange with iron oxides.

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From Norris, the Gibbon River flows towards south towards Madison.

Gibbon Falls marks the edge of the ancient Yellowstone caldera. The river cascades 84 feet down the caldera wall.

Autumn is in the air now.

The meadows have turned from green to golden.

The light is different in autumn. The air is crisp.

Rivers and wildlife reflect the golden hues.

Another sign of fall is the bulging of the bull elk – as he announces his declaration of dominance to the other bulls.

This is the Elk rut – mating season. Each dominant bull has his own herd, or harem, of females.

Bulls constantly patrol the cows… herding them in one place so they can more easily keep watch over them.

The young bulls spar and practice for the day when they will challenge the dominant bull for the control of the harem.


Bison are on the move. Like the elk, young bulls spar for position.

The quiet moods and haunting atmosphere of fall have a powerful impact on even the most experienced visitor.

Autumn days can be crisp and bright.

The weather can change in a blink, dusting the scenery with a blanket of white.

An early October snow adds a little wonder to Old Faithful Inn.

A hike to Observation Point starts to feel more like December.

By mid-October, Old Faithful Inn shuts down for the season.

Winter comes on quickly.

The sun reveals a Yellowstone that has become a winter wonderland.

Familiar landmarks have been completely transformed.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The falls are barely recognizable.

Roaring Mountain

Tower Falls is seemingly frozen solid.

Soda Butte is no longer visible.

Lamar River runs slowly, half frozen; the greens of summer long gone.

In the geyser basins, clouds of steam billow into the cold.

Snow doesn’t bury the spirit of those who live here in the winter.

While bears den for the winter, many of Yellowstone’s animals are on the move.

Bison, elk and bighorn actively forage. Birds and waterfowl, bald eagles and swans, all cruise the frozen landscape.

Winter is a time to experience Yellowstone in a quieter, more reflective mood.

The summer crowds are gone. But the opportunities to experience the wilder side of Yellowstone have not.

In Winter, the interior roads of the park are closed to private passenger cars, but various forms of “specialty” transporation make travel all the more interesting.

Cross-country skiing and snow shoeing are the norm in winter.

Mammoth Hot Springs is the hub for winter activities here.

On this morning, our group heads out on a guided snowshoe hike into Lamar’s northern range.

A bighorn ram makes his presence known.

The group moves aside to him pass.

An elk forages for plants under the snow.

Throughout Yellowstone, the scenery is transformed

A cross-country ski trip to Calcite Springs is rewarded by an amazing view.

Today, we join a guided tour into the park’s interior.

The 50-mile drive from Mammoth to Old Faithful can only be made by tracked vehicles.

Swan Lake Flats takes on a whole new look.

Gibbon Falls has a frosting of snow.

At Norris, the landscape is surreal.

Steam from Emerald Springs has blanketed everything in sight with ice formations.

It’s a place of wonder… like no place else on earth.

To the south, sunrise at West Thumb reveals a frozen Yellowstone Lake.

Fishing Bridge and Yellowstone River sit idle.

In the Upper Geyser Basin, Old Faithful Snow Lodge is open for business.

It is the center of activity for the park’s interior.

In the morning, the Lodge is bustling as guests venture out to explore.

The forecast is heavy snow.

Our group is taking a 7-mile cross-country ski trek to Lone Star Geyser.

As if on cue from Mother Nature, Lone Star erupts into action.

Winter is a season that tests the survival strengths of most wildlife in the park.

Elk find grasses and plants under the snow before gradually migrating to the lower slopes.

Wildlife is affected the most. Here in the harshness of winter, the overriding concern is survival.

For wolves in winter, the hunt never stops.

The quick and the strong survive.

The old and the weak do not.

Nothing here goes to waste.

This elk carcass will be completely devoured in less than a day.

Yellowstone protects the largest and most varied group of wildlife in the United States,

It has the largest concentration of hydrothermal phenomena anywhere in the world.

The National Park Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural balance between wildlife and their habitat.

The establishment of national parks such as Yellowstone are examples of the need to preserve intact ecosystems as sanctuaries for wildlife.

This is the miracle that is Yellowstone.

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