Western Vacation: Colter Bay to Old Faithful

It was a full day of exploring for Greta and Dina – from Colter Bay, to thermal features, to Old Faithful.  
We started the morning out early and headed up to Signal Mountain.  Aptly named with its cell phone tower and nice views.  

The Tetons are not visible due to a large stand of trees behind this photo.  Instead, you look out over the valley below.  
We headed on to lunch at Colter Bay.  This has always been my favorite picnic ground for a couple reasons – 1. The views can’t be beat; and 2. It’s large enough that you can avoid crowds of people. 
It was a pretty hazy day and the Tetons looked a little out of focus.  
After lunch, we packed up and headed North again into Yellowstone.  We stopped at a few features along the way.  We headed to Sulphur Cauldron first.  This is a highly acidic thermal feature with a very strong smell of sulphur.  Greta was fascinated by the sounds and odors at this stop.  
We crossed the street and headed to Dragon’s Mouth next.  This feature is reminiscent of a dragon’s mouth due to the dark opening (seen begin Dina) and the loud noises made by the water slapping against the sides of the walls.  The water violently spurts out and creates a spitting, steaming, loud dragon of a hot spring.  
We drove along Lake Yellowstone, back south, toward Old Faithful.  
Seeing the Inn for the first time in 10 years was lovely.  As a kid, we were in Yellowstone every summer for family vacation.  Due to college, jobs, moving to North Carolina, a career, weddings, and a child, I had taken a hiatus from Yellowstone.  
The inside of the Inn is filled with a monolithic fireplace, pine timbers, chairs, and crows of tourists.  I cam all this way and saw a Duke shirt.  

The inside of the Inn is too ethereal to describe in words.  It gives me chills the first time I enter, every single trip.  Old Faithful Inn is named due to the geyser located just outside the inn.  Old Faithful used to erupt every 60 minutes, but now has slowed to every 90 minutes.  
We were just in time to see Old Faithful erupt.  My dad was readying cameras.  Notice the large viewing deck.  This area will fill up during the daytime hours when tour buses unload for photo ops in front of the famed geyser.  

According to the National Parks website
For geyser to occur there must be heat, water, and a plumbing system. A magma chamber provides the heat, which radiates into surrounding rock. Water from rain and snow works its way underground through fractures in the rock.

As the water reaches hot rock it begins to rise back to the surface, passing through rhyolite, which is former volcanic ash or lava rich in silica. The hot water dissolves the silica and carries it upward to line rock crevices. This forms a constriction that holds in the mounting pressure, creating a geyser’s plumbing system.

As superheated water nears the surface, its pressure drops, and the water flashes into steam as a geyser. Hot springs have unconstricted plumbing systems.”

Even with Old Faithful’s slowing eruptions, it is just as magical as when I was a child.  For the countless times I have seen Old Faithful erupt, it never loses its awe for me.  I loved being able to see Old Faithful through Eric and Greta’s eyes, for the first time.  

After the eruption we headed off to view some of the other geothermal features that surround Old Faithful Inn area.  
Castle Geyser is one of my favorites with its sand castle shape.  
There was an abundant amount of orange thermophiles, and they seemed to glow even more so in the evening light.  

As the sun began to set, we headed back to the Inn.  We had a full day ahead of us – our plan was to get up and going and hit as many geothermal features as we could before the tour buses took over.  I am missing this place so badly right now, but I found a way to feel like I am still there – check out the webcam for the boardwalks and Old Faithful.  


Published by Chelsea

Art teacher by day. Mother of 2 - day and night. Thrifter, crafter, artist, baker, chef, and DIYer in free time.

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