Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The late-summer opening of a new visitors' center at the Old Faithful geyser has drawn new attention to Yellowstone National Park, the first national park and one that owes its existence partly to the wonder that is Old Faithful.
There are, however, many other natural wonders at Yellowstone, most of them related to the geothermal activity that bubbles barely beneath the park's surface.
One of these is Morning Glory Pool, above, a hot spring in the park's Upper Geyser Basin. Its color comes from bacteria in the water. It sometimes erupts as a geyser, but that's very rare.
There's more hot -- or at least warm -- water at the Firehole River Swimming Area, an old-fashioned swimming hole heated by hot springs and geysers. There's a deep warm pool surrounded by tall cliffs. There is a current, but it's not strong enough to put average swimmers at risk, and there are spots with no current at all.
Mammoth Hot Springs are another natural wonder: a tall series of natural terraces covered with calcium deposits.
These don't scratch the surface of the things to see and experience at Yellowstone.
If you're early enough or lucky enough, you can stay in one of the park's lodges. If you're forced to stay outside the park, you'll find a lot of motels in West Yellowstone, Mont.
My family and I have stayed at Chico Hot Springs resort, north of Yellowstone. It has an excellent restaurant and a range of spa services.
Before you visit Yellowstone itself, visit it online by clicking here.
The Other Park in the Neighborhood
Don't forget that another wonderful national park is just to the south, Grand Teton National Park. Jackson, Wyoming, is a good base for exploring Grand Teton. For lodging suggestions there, click here.