Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
The Restless Giant
The brochure says, “At the heart of Yellowstone’s past, present and future lies a SUPERVOLCANO.” Called “The Restless Giant”, we are told that huge volcanic eruptions occurred here, the latest about 631,000 years ago. The center of what is now the park collapsed, forming a 30 by 45-mile caldera, or basin. The heat powering those eruptions still fuels the park’s geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots. The super volcano feeds the world’s largest group of hydro thermal features.
The park’s ecosystems range from near-desert vegetation to sub-alpine meadows and forests. They support a variety of habitats that sustain diverse wildlife like bison, elk, grizzly and black bears, wolves, trumpeter swans and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. People have also been part of Yellowstone for more than 13,000 years. Many Native American tribes still have deep connections to the park.
A major attraction of the park is the Old Faithful Geyser through which gushes steaming hot water. At this geyser, the steam flow is sporadic and not continuous. But the eruptions occur at predictable intervals, hence the name.
The Old Faithful
Midway Geyser Basin
The Midway Geyser basin hosts the world’s largest geyser, The Excelsior. And it also hosts the world’s largest hot spring, Grand Prismatic. The dazzling array of colors reflected from its hot waters does full justice to its name. No photograph can adequately capture the colorful spectacle that this landmark offers the viewers.
The Excelsior Geyser
Write-up on Prismatic
The Grand Prismatic Hot Spring
Travertine terraces, valleys and waterfalls.
Interactions of water and limestone have created chalk-white travertine terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs. These terraces are among the fastest changing features in the park. They emerge quickly and dry up just as fast. Near the West Thumb site at the Yellowstone Lake, one comes across hot springs, geysers, mud pots, and fumaroles. Another dynamic geyser basin is the Norris Geyser basin that includes Steamboat, the world’s tallest geyser. There are several waterfalls as well and the spectacular ones that can be viewed from overlooks and walkways are the Upper and Lower Falls in Canyon valley.
Grand Teton National Park
With no foothills to obstruct the view, the jagged peaks and deep canyons of the Teton range rise abruptly from the Jackson Hole valley in Wyoming. Several viewpoints offer magnificent views of the 13,770-foot high Grand Teton peak with surrounding glaciers. High elevation canyons hold lingering snow, patches of plants in crevices and fragile meadows that will transition to bare rocks higher up. This region was created in the ancient past—the rocks found in the core of the range are 2.7-billion years old, some of the oldest in North America. But the landscape has been shaped by recent geologic forces—about 10 million years ago.
A ferry ride across the scenic Lake Jenny takes you to the foothills of the Grand Teton. A short hike up brings you to the Hidden waterfalls. Mountaineers aspiring to climb higher peaks including the Himalayas, use this trail as part of their training.
Grand Teton and Lake Jenny
The majestic range
The Togwotee Mountain Lodge on the outskirts of both the Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton Park is one of the starting points for hikes along mountain trails. It enjoys the reputation of being the most popular resort for snowmobiles in winter, with hundreds of miles of bike trails in its vicinity and thousands of acres of national parks.
On the south side is another renowned landmark, Jackson Hole. It has several attractions in its vicinity, including Bridger-Teton National Forest and the National Elk Refuge. Further south is the famed resort of Jackson city.