The geology of Yellowstone National Park gives unparalleled insight into a unique terrain that contains the largest concentration of geothermal features in the entire world. Other than the famed Yellowstone geysers, the park is home to many fumaroles, thermal springs, and mud pots. When huge volcanic eruptions—over 1,000 times more powerful than Mt. Saint Helens—occurred here over 600,000 years ago, they created a massive, lava-filled caldera. This massive caldera makes up much of what is now Yellowstone National Park. The magnificent landscape that we’ll explore on our walking tour—including the impressive Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone Lake, Hayden Valley and Geyser basins—has been sculpted over millennia. To learn more, read this short guide to some of the geological wonders you can experience while on our Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Walking America’s Wilderness vacation.
The Yellowstone National Park geysers make up two-thirds of the total amount found in the world. Although the park contains over 1,200 geysers—465 of which are active annually—the one that is on every park visitor’s agenda is the famed Old Faithful Geyser. Despite not being the largest of the Yellowstone geysers—that distinction goes to the 300ft blast of the Steamboat Geyser—Old Faithful’s consistency is what sets it apart. If we don’t arrive just in time to see an eruption, we won’t have to wait long since Old Faithful erupts every 90 minutes or so, hence it’s name. We’ll also have ample opportunities to view an eruption during our night’s stay at the awe-inspiring Old Faithful Inn, known for its spectacular seven-story tall lobby of log rafters and 85-foot stone fireplace. Located just a short walk from Old Faithful, you can always just step outside to view an eruption from the inn’s second-floor deck.
Yellowstone is home to many hot springs including Mammoth Hot Springs, a large complex of hot springs located on a hill of travertine and accented by natural sculptures of cooled calcium carbonate. One of the highlights of our tour is the day we walk to the Grand Prismatic Spring (pictured at the top of this blog), the largest hot spring in the United States and 3rd largest in the world. The Grand Prismatic is known for its rainbow of colors that are caused by bacteria living at the spring’s edges: reds, yellows, greens, and blues create a vivid pool on the basin floor. VBT guests will view these amazing hot springs from our walking trail, far above the crowded boardwalks that skirt its shores.
Another seemingly supernatural phenomenon of Yellowstone geology is the park’s mud pots which are like hot springs, except instead of boiling water they are made of bubbling clay. Over time the microorganisms in Yellowstone’s ground use super-hot gas from vents in the earth’s crust and convert it to sulfuric acid. The acid in turn breaks down hard rock into soft clay which liquefies and then bubbles as it releases more gas. During our stay we’ll have the chance to view prime examples of the park’s mud pots including the Mud Volcano and the Artist’s Paint Pots—a very colorful example of the normally gray mud pots.
These are just a few of the park’s geothermal attractions that you’ll get to discover on our new Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Walking America’s Wilderness. To learn more about the itinerary and departure dates for this walking vacation please visit our website. To request a full catalog with all of our vacations please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868, available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am-3:00pm EST.