Our 2021 Road Trip #26: Grand Prismatic Spring Fever

Grand Prismatic Springs cloud reflections!

This looks like some of my Trapper Keeper folders from junior high.

Sure, Old Faithful had the fame and Biscuit Basin had the scintillating colors, but our next literal hot spot had the hottest temperatures, the largest dimensions, and the longest line of the day. Such was the fierce competition among Yellowstone points of interest.


Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. We were each raised in a household that couldn’t afford annual out-of-state family vacations. We’re geeks more accustomed to vicarious life through the windows of pop culture than through in-person adventures. Eventually we tired of some of our self-imposed limitations and figured out how to leave the comforts of home for the chance to see creative, exciting, breathtaking, outlandish, and/or bewildering new sights in states beyond our own, from the horizons of nature to the limits of imagination, from history’s greatest hits to humanity’s deepest regrets and the sometimes quotidian, sometimes quirky stopovers in between.

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

Technically not even 2020 stopped us. We played by the new rules of the interim normal and wandered Indiana in multiple directions as safely as we could. This year the long-awaited vaccines arrived. For 2021 we agreed we had to go big. Our new primary objective was Yellowstone National Park, 1500 miles from Indy…

Four miles north up the highway loop was Grand Prismatic Spring. At 370 feet in diameter and 121 feet deep it’s the largest hot spring in America, with pools so hot that they’re effectively sterilized in the middle, so the thermophiles — those colorizing microbes that added to Biscuit Basin’s kaleidoscope — can only survive around the edges.

Less talk, more colors (eventually):

Grand Prismatic Spring line!

The spring’s parking lot is a fraction the size of Old Faithful’s. We had to wait in line a good 35+ minutes just to park.

Grand Prismatic Spring no drones!

No drones allowed at the spring. This lesson was learned the hard way by a 2014 visitor who never saw their upscale RC plane reemerge from the boiling depths.

Grand Prismatic spring steam from afar!

From the lot across the Firehole River, we could already see the spring’s steam.

Grand Prismatic Spring no swimming!

No swimming in the boiling water. Because some people need practical advice.

Grand Prismatic Spring thermophile runoff!

Heading up the walkway, we could watch thermophile runoff coming downhill. But not the thermophiles themselves, obviously.

Grand Prismatic Spring!

Our widest possible shot of the pretty primary prismatic pool.

Grand Prismatic Spring steam!

Full steam ahead!

Grand Prismatic Spring wall of steam!

An entire wall of steam, as if the day weren’t already summery enough.

Grand Prismatic Spring rocks amid steam!

Thermophiles die out in the middle, but a few hardy rocks persist.

Grand Prismatic Spring veins!

More runoff coursing vein-like through the parts distant from the middle.

Grand Prismatic Spring orange!

One part awesome orange tones, one part reflecting pool.

Grand Prismatic Spring more orange!

Around this point in our files is when it gets hard for me to decide which pics should be posted or pocketed. I know sharing ALL the things isn’t necessary, but where do I quit?

Grand Prismatic Spring orange closeup!

Closer up, some orange parts look a little grosser.

Grand Prismatic Spring orange and steam line!

Some sections are like alien worlds, and can be equally as lethal to the careless.

Grand Prismatic Spring so much orange!

Nearly the same pic, but I’m distracted by the realization that Garfield’s seemingly unnatural fur color can indeed occur in nature. Maybe he just has thermophiles instead of fleas.

Grand Prismatic Spring steam up close!

Baby blue steam meets pumpkin orange through the haze.

Grand Prismatic Spring steam and tree line!

Off in the distance the trees are like, “Hey, remember when you first came into the park and thought we looked cool?” And we’re all like,”SHUT UP, TREES.”

Grand Prismatic Spring steam reflections orange!

Most of these photos are in the order taken, but these last few aren’t. Fortunately no one’s out there trying to piece together a Family Circus dotted line of the precise walkway path.

Grand Prismatic Spring filtered steam!

At some point Anne accidentally toggled a switch that made her camera take multiple filtered photos at a time, such as this weird moment of steam.

Grand Prismatic Spring filtered white sands!

On a related note, here’s what the surrounding, non-steamy, non-thermophilic, solid-ground terrain would look like if we’d teleported to the edge of White Sands National Park.

Grand Prismatic Spring steam and cloud reflections!

Back to unfiltered pics for one last wide shot, the best among our phone photos.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my faint signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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