It took us five trips to Yellowstone to finally make it to West Thumb Geyser Basin. We weren’t purposely neglecting it. It’s just that Yellowstone is such an enormous park, with thousands of hydrothermal features spread about in so many geyser basins, you can’t do it all and somehow we missed this one. Or maybe we saved the best for last.
After a lovely birthday dinner at the Lake Hotel, we stopped by West Thumb Geyser Basin on our way back to Grant Village, just in time for sunset. It was perfect.
Yellowstone Lake, at 7,733 feet above sea level, with a surface area of 136 square miles, is the largest high elevation freshwater lake in North America. It sits in the southeast portion of the Yellowstone Caldera, an ancient crater created by the eruption of a supervolcano 640,000 years ago.
West Thumb Geyser Basin is located on the shores of Yellowstone Lake, a crater within a crater, and holds lakeshore geysers, hot springs and bubbling paint pots, heated by magma chambers less than 2 miles under the earth’s surface. It’s smaller and more concentrated than the other basins but the setting may be more beautiful. It was also the first feature in Yellowstone described in print, when a trapper wrote a letter to his brother about the area and it was published in 1827.
We walked the boardwalk to the lake, stopping to admire the hot springs along the way.
There was Bluebell Pool
and Black Pool,
and Abyss Pool, one of the deepest in the park at 53 feet.
Geysers were bubbling at the shore, out of cones submerged under water part of the year.
O the Joy as the sunset lit up the Basin!
The perfect end to a happy birthday at Yellowstone National Park.