Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yellowstone - Mammoth Hot Springs

We entered the park at the North Entrance, where we got to drive through the Roosevelt Arch.  The cornerstone of the arch was laid bu President Teddy Roosevelt.  At the top of the arch, it reads "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people."  That is me standing in front of it, just to give you an idea of how tall it is.

We drove to our hotel and got checked in.  That first night there we stayed at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.  One wing of the hotel was constructed in 1911 and the rest of it was built in 1937.  It had been renovated in 1997, but many of the original fixtures had been kept - including the sink on our room.It took me a minute to figure out how to use it!  It had two faucets on it - one for hot water and one for cold water, and they were not close enough to each other so that the water would form one stream.

After checking in, we decided to do some sightseeing before sunset.  The scenery was amazing.  Our first stop was the Hymen Terrace.

The tall conical structure, "Liberty Cap" is named after the conical hats that we given to freed Roman slaves.  It is an extinct (no longer active) hot spring cone. It is estimated to be 2500 years old.

The colors and patterns of the terraces are caused by microorganisms and to a lesser extent, mineral deposits.  Thermophilic bacteria thrive in the hot water of the springs.

Devil's thumb and Palette Hot Spring
Once the travertine surrounds a tree, the tree begins to die. 

When the spring at a terrace becomes inactive, the terrace turns white.  With no hot water, there is no bacteria to provide the color.

We could feel the heat of the hot springs if we were close enough.  The average temperature of the hot springs is 163 F.  This was one of my favorite parts of the park because the landscape was almost alien.  It was like nothing I had ever seen before.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1 (NIV)

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