Elephant Back and West Thumb

Hayden Valley
Hayden Valley

Heading south of Yellowstone Canyon took us through the Hayden Valley where the river was a placid contrast to the torrents pouring over Upper and Lower Falls. However, despite this calm appearance, we were on the verge of one of Yellowstone’s most geologically volatile regions at Mud Volcano.

Its first manifestation is Sulphur Cauldron, a spring with waters about ten times as acidic as lemon juice. Sulphur-rich gasses rise furiously.

Across the road is the Mud Volcano area itself. Features include Cooking Hillside – I’ve included the information board not just for the explanation of how it got its name, but also to show how the treeline had retreated even further since it was erected.

After a picnic by the river, we decided to tackle Elephant Back Mountain, a 3.5 mile loop trail which sounds more impressive than it is – only 800 feet elevation change. Not really a mountain then! A heavily wooded trail leads to good views from the top over Yellowstone Lake.

We then drove along the shores of the lake to West Thumb Geyser Basin, a small volcanic caldera formed inside the main Yellowstone caldera about 150,000 years ago. Some wildlife encounters en route!

If Mud Volcano was all about – well – mud, here we were back to glorious colour. There was something magical about wandering along in the late afternoon sunshine with the lake on one side and these jewel-bright springs on the other.

We returned to the Lodge tired but happy. In the next instalment we see the Park’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful – but prefer some of its neighbours.

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50 thoughts on “Elephant Back and West Thumb

  1. the eternal traveller November 28, 2016 / 11:43

    The springs are such beautiful colours. Lucky we don’t have smellavision! I’m guessing the sulphur would have had a strong odour!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. hilarymb November 28, 2016 / 12:20

    Hi Anabel – fascinating to see and note … and what a great little mini-hike … looks amazing – but yes the sulphur smell must be pretty nauseous after a while. Cheers Hilary

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh November 28, 2016 / 12:36

      It was, but we gladly put up with the smell for the wonderful sights!

      Like

  3. Pit November 28, 2016 / 14:08

    Thanks for sharing, and have a great week,
    Pit

    Like

  4. K H November 28, 2016 / 15:58

    It’s so pretty there. I’ve been a few times and it never ceases to thrill me. Last time was on my motorcycle.

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh November 28, 2016 / 16:10

      Lucky you to be near enough to do that! I don’t think I’d ever get bored with it either.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor November 28, 2016 / 16:42

    That’s interesting to hear that you preferred some of Old Faithful’s neighbors. Looking forward to the next installment and finding out why.

    Like

  6. Heyjude November 28, 2016 / 18:49

    Love the last gallery of the colourful springs, but it is a very toxic place isn’t it! Never knew there is such a big lake there either.

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh November 28, 2016 / 20:01

      Even better colours to come! It’s certainly toxic. Someone fell in to one of the springs not long before we went. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Liesbet November 29, 2016 / 00:54

    The colors of the springs are mind-blowing. The more photos I see about Yellowstone, the more impressed I become. It truly must be the most varied and spectacular National Park of this country.

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh November 29, 2016 / 07:39

      Glad you liked it! I’ve never been to New Zealand – yet.

      Like

  8. BeckyB November 29, 2016 / 09:42

    wow . . . so much more in Yellowstone then I ever realised.

    Like

  9. Ann Coleman November 29, 2016 / 14:29

    Your photos are wonderful! Seriously, how did I get to my age and not realize just how impressive the landscape in Yellowstone Park is??? It’s almost embarrassing!

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh November 29, 2016 / 15:06

      A lot of people seem to be surprised. I was myself – I wasn’t expecting geothermal activity to be quite so widespread and so varied. “Only” two more Yellowstone posts to go – and the best sight was on the very last day so stay tuned!

      Like

  10. Blue Sky Scotland November 29, 2016 / 21:15

    Nice to see all that water in the first photograph. With America being so vast you can travel a long way from Lake District type scenery or coastal features.One thing I missed touring Australia’s deserts years ago in summer conditions (and I never though I’d say this) was all the water features, moist climate and the rain in Scotland. Any holiday abroad seems to make you appreciate your own country more as they had just gone through a 10 year drought when I was there and folk were ecstatic over even a light trickle flowing again in the creeks after rain. Maybe another reason why Yellowstone and the thermal pools are so popular with the variety there.

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh November 29, 2016 / 22:32

      There is huge variety, agreed – plenty of water in the river / falls / lake and then almost lunar looking landscapes in places. Amazing!

      Like

  11. ventisqueras November 29, 2016 / 22:32

    è incredibile pensare come sotto questo affascinante e straordinario territorio dorma un vulcano sotterraneo che quando decidesse di esplodere tornerebbe a cambiare totalmente la morfologia della zona e di gran oarte della regione!
    vi ringrazio per il bellissimo ed interessante reportage
    felice sera Annalisa

    Like

  12. Jessica (Diverting Journeys) November 30, 2016 / 13:13

    Yellowstone definitely looks a lot like New Zealand in places…I saw someone above commented about the smells of Rotorua, and that’s exactly what I’m flashing back to, that awful stinky night in an awful stinky motel in Rotorua! It was probably worth it for the bubbling mud pools and volcanic valley walk the next day, but the pools in Yellowstone do look more excitingly aggressive!

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh November 30, 2016 / 14:42

      At least we didn’t have a stinky motel to contend with! Yellowstone is amazing – still a couple of posts to go.

      Like

  13. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy November 30, 2016 / 16:32

    All of these posts make me want to get back on the road! I have always wanted to visit Yellowstone during the winter. I think it would be amazing to see the place in the snow.

    And I can’t wait for Old Faithful – one of my favorite geysers is over there: Anemone Geyser. It is right along the boardwalk and you can see the entire eruption cycle of the geyser in just a few minutes. It’s not big or impressive, but it’s just fascinating to see the whole process.

    Like

  14. restlessjo December 2, 2016 / 09:50

    Why, oh why, didn’t I set off on my travels when I was much younger? I guess cash constraints played their part. Ah well! Can’t see ALL of this beautiful world, but aren’t blogs great? 🙂 Happy weekend, Anabel!

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh December 2, 2016 / 11:33

      Glad you enjoyed it, Jo, and it showed you part of the world you haven’t seen. I love blogs for the same reason!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Lynne Rickards December 2, 2016 / 12:02

    That churning cauldron looked pretty scary! You definitely wouldn’t want to lean too far in there…

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh December 2, 2016 / 12:42

      No, indeed! Someone fell into a spring not long before we went and, well, there wasn’t much left of him…….

      Like

  16. Linda December 3, 2016 / 23:44

    Your photos are beautiful! I love long walks in nature and really appreciate this lovely tour. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

    Like

  17. paintdigi December 4, 2016 / 10:13

    Good posts, beautiful blog.
    Congratulations.
    Welcome to see my creations:
    paintdigi.com

    Like

  18. claudiabookwright December 4, 2016 / 16:06

    From the elks’ pastoral calm to the earth’s undercurrent of violence. To be there, it must feel at once serene and, at the same time, supremely threatening.

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh December 4, 2016 / 16:22

      I tried not to think about the threatening bit! It wasn’t too difficult just to concentrate in the beauty.

      Like

  19. Birgit December 5, 2016 / 17:18

    How beautiful! Seeing the deer makes me think I will suddenly see a captain saying Walt Disney presents….:) I love the myriad of colours-really something to see

    Like

  20. prior.. December 8, 2016 / 10:44

    Tired, but happy….
    Ah such a nice sound –

    enjoyed the photos and the ending blue water is so beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

  21. prior.. December 8, 2016 / 10:45

    Oh and I heard that stinky sulphur is really good for healing certain ailments … too bad it smells so yuck

    Like

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