Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Getting high on the Grand Prismatic Spring

September 19, 2013
West Yellowstone, Mt.
Grizzly RV Park

The sun finally came out on our last day here in Yellowstone but the high temperatures were only forecast to be in the 50s. Since we woke up to temperatures in the low 30s, we decided to wait a few hours before heading out on the trails.  Our main destination was to revisit the Midway Geyser Basin which we had only seen on a bus tour from afar on a dark rainy day. 

Thanks to tips from Brad, our Buffalo Bus tour guide, and a recommendation from fellow blogger Pam of Oh, the Places They Go!, we learned that there is an unofficial trail (Brad called it a social trail) that you can take to get the best view of the amazing Grand Prismatic Spring.

The drive from West Yellowstone to the Midway Geyser Basin only took about a half hour. There are some lovely views of the Madison River along the way.  Fall is prime fly fishing time and there is a strong part of me longing to be out there on the river.Both Vic and I have taken lessons and done a little flyfishing. It is on our list of future hobbies to pursue and Montana would sure be the ideal place to do it. The Vic kept all his gear including fly tying equipment in our storage uni. I would have to start from scratch which require a pretty hefty investment, but I am worth it—hah. 

One of my favorite novels is Norman MacLean’s A River Runs Through It. The first line about sums up how I feel about even watching the art of fly fishing: “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”  And the last line is quite fitting for the beauty of this place as well: “I am haunted by waters.”

M YNP01 (124)

Another beautiful scene on our way to the Midway Geyser Basin was passing a big meadow near the springs dotted with bison.  These particular bison were known for being outstanding in their field.

Couldn’t resist shooting this photo of a cow bison with her young calf.

We parked the car at the Midway Geyser Basin lot which happened to have only one space left even this time of year.  I think the crowds were out in force since it was the first sunny day of the week. From here, we just followed the Fairy Falls Trail a short distance until we found an unmarked trail going straight up a hill to the left. We learned there is another hill you can climb a bit further down but it does not take you as high this trail does, so we decided to go for the gold. 

I don’t have much terminology to describe different terrains when it comes to hiking. There is not really a trail to follow here; you just have to pick your way around fallen trees and rocks as you make a steady climb uphill. Because of the recent rain, many places were slick so we especially appreciated our hiking boots with good tread and ankle support.

We were proud of ourselves to keep on going when others "called it good enough to take photos" at a much lower elevation.  After about a half hour of carefully stepping uphill, we reached the top ecstatic to see this incredible vista.

I could not stop taking photos as each time we walked a few steps more on the hilltop plateau, it revealed a slightly different look at the Grand Prismatic.  It was quite a thrill to be able to see this marvel of nature, the largest hot spring in the U.S. and third largest in the world, from this perspective.  Worth the whole trip to Yellowstone.

These are my experiments with zoomed in shots and different perspectives of this beauty.

I put my camera (a Nikon Coolpix P510) on a Special Effects setting called Painting for this photo.  I actually prefer the realistic photos but thought this was interesting to include.

No one else was on top of the hill with us and we wanted a photo of ourselves with the spring in the background.  It took about ten tries with us laughing the whole time.  Thank goodness for Vic’s long arms.  (We did look for a place to set the camera at the right height to take a timed photo, but to no avail. And, yes, I have major hat head but who cares?)

It was easy to take single photos of ourselves, so we did that too. You can see from Vic’s down vest and long pants that we are in colder temps than we are accustomed to as he is almost always wearing his retirement uniform--cargo shorts and flip flops.

After an exhilarating thirty minutes on the hilltop, we decided it was finally time to head down.  We took our time stepping carefully to avoid any slips, slides, or twists. Vic carefully lead the way down where we ran into other hikers who were only climbing midway.

This is the view of the spring as we descended—much less dramatic the closer you get but still pretty, I love the clouds too! 

This downed tree limb across the trail had names of other “viewers” carved into it making an interesting photo with the spring in the background.

We had plans to go on to Fairy Falls, another five miles, but that didn’t happen. We are still in our conditioning phase, you know. We did pass by this spectacular small pool on our way out.

Once again, our pooches were ultra happy upon our return.  At least this time they did not have to endure thunderstorms in our absence. 

dogs happy to see us

More excitement to come as we are off to the Grand Tetons for four days before starting our slow trek eastward. Our time in Glacier and Yellowstone exceeded our expectations causing us to seriously consider Montana as a future home. I have a feeling we will be seduced by Jackson as well. Isn’t it great to be so fickle about lovely places?  Roll on. . . .


  1. WOW! What spectacular views! So proud of you and Vic for going all the way! Your photos are beautiful...such wonderful colors. We have to get to Yellowstone! Joe and I have taken pictures of the 2 of us also....laughing all the time too. Madison River is quite picturesque...and yes, I would love to see a picture of you two fly fishing.

    We haven't been to the Grand Tetons either...looking forward to it thru your pictures and post!

  2. What an amazing hike and your pictures were so beautiful. We never take pictures of ourselves because neither of has long enough arms to get far enough back so as not to scare people!

  3. Oh, how beautiful!! I just love that place. It is mind boggling how amazing the colors are!! So glad you found the "untrail" to the top. So worth the climb. I am thrilled you posted all those wonderful pictures. So glad you included photos of the two of you:)

  4. Lovely header photo.

    Your photos look like water paintings. So absolutely lovely. Glad you had a wonderful day for your hike.

  5. Beauty! We're going back to do that hike. The day we went it was raining, so we didn't do the climb. Looking forward to your photos of the Grand Tetons. We're doing that next year, as well.

  6. Those are spectacular pictures and worth all your effort to go to the very top. We do the self pictures all the time and they are much more hilarious than yours since neither of us has Vic arms. The only hat I saw in that picture was Vic's. Glad to be going back to Teton with you. We loved them all, Glacier, Yellowstone and Teton. Not sure I could do Montana winters though.

  7. Those pictures were worth the hiking to the top huh!!!!

  8. What a great way to spend the day. I loved the pics. If it is to cool for cargo shorts it may be time to move south.

  9. Tough climb but well worth the result, great pictures. Thanks for sharing the views with us! :c)

  10. Fabulous hike! Yellowstone is on our list...


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