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Yellowstone Adventure [Part 4 of 6]

This entry describes events that took place May 22, 2012.

On our first day in Yellowstone National Park, we had watched eruptions at Old Faithful, toured more geysers and springs than we could count, and were stopped in the road more than once by lumbering bison. This second day would take us to a different part of the park, which included the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

This is the north entrance to the park—the Roosevelt Arch.

A few miles inside, one finds the famous Mammoth Hot Springs. These terraces of travertine mineral deposits spread out over a wide expanse.

Next, we passed by the ominously-named Sheepeater Cliff. The hexagonal columns of basalt are reminiscent of what we saw at Devils Tower a couple of years ago.

Near the Canyon is a museum that explains all about the supervolcano lurking under the surface at Yellowstone, which drives the geyser activity and pretty much all the geology of the area. The exhibit shows how the North American tectonic plate has drifted over this hotspot, which has left a wide basin in its wake, now known as the Snake River Plain. If you've watched a TV documentary in the past decade or so, you know that the last significant eruption was 640,000 years ago, and if the supervolcano erupts to its full potential, the whole Mountain Time Zone is boned.

The hernia of the earth.

At the Canyon, there is a steep trail that takes visitors to a thrilling view of the iconic Lower Yellowstone Falls.

And here are some caldrons.

Lest you forget that Yellowstone is a "work in progress", here are a couple of reminders. At left, a portion of the parking lot has collapsed as the boiling, angry earth tries to erupt through. At right, this grill is corroded by poisonous gases.

This was our least-busy day. Weather was cold and dreary. In late afternoon, we returned to our motel outside the park in Montana, and actually relaxed for a change.