At the active volcano caldera - whooshing geysers and boiling mud

Review by: Arvind Kumar

Destination: Yellow Stone National Park, USA


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I am a budding traveller keen to explore different parts of the world. I try to understand the ways of nature and how its harmony can be translated into real life.

Yellow Stone National Park is one of the finest national parks covering parts of the three states of Wyoming, Utah and Montana in USA. The Yellowstone Caldera is the largest volcanic system in North America. It has been termed a "supervolcano" because the caldera was formed by exceptionally large explosive eruptions. The magma chamber that lies under Yellowstone fuels the rising steam and geysers. This gives the spectacular views of boiling mud, hot gases and hot water rushing through the geysers.
Yellow stone is a unique combination of nature’s ferocity on one side and calmness on other. The boiling mud, hot geysers and rising steam with stench of gases around reminds of the violent power below the earth. The hot magma below the surface heats water from below the ground to rise as geysers. The most famous geyser in the park, and perhaps the world, is Old Faithful Geyser. This geyser erupts approximately every 91 minutes. It’s almost accurate show time got its name as the Old Faithful. A visitor gallery in open air allows hundreds of visitors to witness the spectacular two minute show. The geyser subsides thereafter, preparing for the next show approximately 90 minutes later
In other parts, the hot water mixed with chemicals from the ground below spawns hot water bacteria. In Yellowstone's hot waters, bacteria form mats of bizarre shapes consisting of trillions of individuals. These bacteria are some of the most primitive life forms on earth. Flies and other arthropods live on the mats, even in the middle of the bitterly cold winters
Over 1,700 species of trees and other vascular plants are native to the park. There are almost 60 species of mammals in the park, including the gray wolf, coyote, the threatened Canadian lynx, and grizzly bears. Other large mammals include the bison (often referred to as buffalo), black bear, elk, moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain goat, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and cougar. Eighteen species of fish live in Yellowstone, including the core range of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout—a fish highly sought by anglers.
More than 311 species of birds have been reported, almost half of which nest in Yellowstone. Nesting of bald eagles has been documented. Extremely rare sightings of whooping cranes have been recorded. Other birds, considered to be species of special concern because of their rarity in Yellowstone, include the common loon, harlequin duck, osprey, peregrine falcon and the trumpeter swan.
The National Park Service has 9 visitor centres and museums. Historical and educational tour is available at Fort Yellowstone which details the history of the National Park Service and the development of the park. Campfire programs, guided walks and other interpretive presentations are available at numerous locations in the summer, and on a limited basis during other seasons. One can carry memories of the visit by purchases from souvenir and gift shops
Camping is available at a dozen campgrounds with more than 2,000 campsites. Camping is also available in surrounding National Forests, as well as in Grand Teton National Park to the south. Backcountry campsites are accessible only by foot or by horseback and require a permit. There are 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of hiking trails available. The park is not considered to be a good destination for mountaineering because of the instability of volcanic rock.
The park is best visited from April to September. Although the park is open year round, extreme cold can prevail during winter. With proper gear, a winter experience would be a different dimension altogether. During the peak season, accommodation within the park is difficult hence advanced planning is highly recommended. Almost all bookings can be done online. Own vehicle is a must and one can hire vehicles from different agencies offering these services. The park spans an area of almost 9000 sq kms. The serious traveller should plan at least a full week program to see and experience the myriad features of the Yellow Stone National Park, found nowhere else in the world. It’s a must visit destination for serious travellers.

Arvind Kumar
M: 9978803000