GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

All posts in Geysers

Reports about Yellowstone’s erupting thermal features, their prediction, and how they work.

Grand GeyserNot having traveled with children in the park for a great many years, I learned a couple of things new to me that might be useful for other parents and grandparents to know about. Stuffed animal toys that Xanterra places in hotel rooms and that I have always pushed out of the way to make room for my own stuff are—not surprisingly—a magnet for little ones. My granddaughter Lexi ended the visit the proud owner of a cuddly bison and an even cuddlier black bear!

Be forewarned that the hotels no longer provide cots in your room for kids. But they are happy to loan you some bedding, so we made nests for Lexi on the floor—and she was out like a light in two minutes each night after crawling in with her animals.

One of our most delightful shared experiences was our geyser day at Upper Geyser Basin. Starting by going to the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center at 8:00 am to copy down the predictions for six major geysers, we set out after breakfast to catch the Grand Geyser eruption, predicted to erupt within about one-and-one-half hours of 10:40 am. Lexi did not complain at all about the wait, and when Grand accommodated us at 11:20 (above) and again with a second beautiful burst at 11:37, she was every bit as thrilled as the other hundred or so visitors watching it.

We went on to visit the wonderful pools and formations beyond Grand and were just in time to catch the Riverside Geyser eruption a little after 1:00 pm. Then our party split into two, and, fortuitously, Suzanne, David, and I caught Grotto Fountain and Grotto Geysers erupting on our way to see Punch Bowl Spring and Black Sand Pool. Returning from that extension of the trail, there was Daisy Geyser erupting as we came back to it! Not to be outdone, Beehive’s Indicator was going before we got back to the Inn, and we were able to see the whole Beehive Geyser eruption. Then, for “dessert,” Old Faithful joined the display not long afterwards. What a geyser day!

2013

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Yellowstone annual trip report, 2013

Categories: Geysers, News, Trip Reports
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Beehive Geyser, YellowstoneToday I feel like raving about the delights of getting together with family and friends in Yellowstone. I returned about a week ago from a two-week trip that I had been planning (as always) for many months.

My excellent companions for the two-day drive to the park and during my stay were colleague Suzanne Cane and her husband David Cane. Suzanne and I worked together for six years to turn out our translation of a travelogue about Yellowstone written by 1883 Belgian visitor Jules Leclercq. You can read about our book, Yellowstone, Land of Wonders, in the Amazon.com entry for the book. Both the Canes took tremendous numbers of pictures, including this one of Beehive Geyser.

In addition to David and Suzanne, I was blessed by having two of my daughters, Beth and Karen, and my granddaughter Lexi with me for a few days. At six years old, Lexi is the perfect age to begin what I hope will be her lifetime attraction to and interest in Yellowstone and environs. She participated eagerly in all our walks and expeditions to see many of my favorite places, and was thrilled by Old Faithful and Grand Geyser eruptions. And one of my favorite visual memories is of watching Beth and Lexi and David skipping hand-in-hand down a path. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a grown man skip!

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Lots of excitement among geyser gazers—Morning Geyser is erupting!

Categories: Geysers, News
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Here is something I can only hope will keep happening until I arrive at Old Faithful on June 21st. Rare and phenomenal eruptions of Morning Geyser have been taking place quite frequently since March. Eruptions can go as high as 200 feet, and, best of all, it occasionally erupts in concert with its close but more frequent neighbor Fountain Geyser.

This Fountain Paint Pot area geyser had not erupted since 1994. Its eruptions seem to be somehow tied to those of its close neighbor Fountain Geyser, and geyser blogger Janet White provides us with this advice:

  1. Check Geyser Times for the last known eruption of Fountain Geyser.
  2. Open that entry to find out the duration of that eruption. More than 40 minutes is more encouraging for a Morning Geyser eruption than less than 40 minutes.
  3. A period of 7.5-9.5 hours following the last eruption of Fountain Geyser becomes the forecasted window of opportunity.
  4. Arrive about 7 hours after the last eruption of Fountain Geyser and be prepared to wait a few hours.

More information and Janet’s excellent pictures are at: http://www.yellowstonegate.com/2013/06/9th-known-dual-eruption-of-both-morning-fountain-geysers.

[9/13/13 update: Morning Geyser is still erupting quite frequently, but I did not manage to see it during my June visit to the park.]

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Call up for Old Faithful Geyser!

Categories: Geysers, Trip planning
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Did you know you can not only see Old Faithful erupt on your computer screen but can call on your phone to learn when the next eruption is predicted to take place? Of course, cell phone use is iffy in the park, but Verizon phones seem to do better than most other types (and I have AT&T, which works in some parts of the park).

If you want to try it, call (307) 344-2751. You’ll get the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center and then be instructed to dial “one” for the geyser prediction time. To watch the eruption on your computer, use: http://www.nps.gov/archive/yell/oldfaithfulcam.htm.

Of course, when I’m in the park I’d rather know when Great Fountain or Grand Geyser is going to erupt, since those are my favorites. I’ll be going that way again in a couple of weeks. Counting the days!

August 2012

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Mechanics of Geysers: New Zealand versus Yellowstone

Categories: Geysers, Janet Chapple's Other Writing, Science
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An excellent explanation of why geysers erupt when “tickled” with soap or detergent appeared yesterday on the science blog of the USA Science Engineering Festival [March 12, 2012]. It is the clearest writing about geyser action I have seen in a long time.

You can read about my experience watching the soaping of Lady Knox Geyser on New Zealand’s North Island in 2003 in my nugget Rotorua Hydrothermal Areas of New Zealand. Here’s what happens when you soap (or really, add detergent to) a geyser, as it appears on that science blog:

At the appointed time, a detergent solution is poured down the channel from which the water erupts. This has the effect of reducing the surface tension of the water that deep within the shaft has been heating up to boiling temperatures due to underground volcanic activity. Surface tension refers to the attractive force between water molecules, and is in fact responsible for water being a liquid at ordinary temperatures. Liquids are characterized by the close proximity of their component molecules, while in gases the distance between molecules is much greater. If the surface tension of a liquid is decreased, the H2O molecules can separate from each other with greater ease, with the result that the liquid turns into a gas. Molecules of “surfactants,” a class of substances that encompasses soaps and detergents, wiggle their way in-between water molecules, allowing the boiling liquid to instantly turn into steam. The steam then forces the water that has collected in the channel to burst upwards, and we have an eruption.

Reading this led me to explore other posts on the blog, including one about integrating the arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, another subject dear to my heart as a dabbler in scientific subjects. Here’s the link:
http://scienceblogs.com/usasciencefestival/2012/03/12/geyser-gets-a-little-help-from/.

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Park roads open today

Categories: Geysers, News, Transportation
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Hurray! From today until early March you can travel over Yellowstone’s snowy roads by snowcoach, snowmobile, skis, or snowshoes. Seeing the park in winter is a not-to-be-missed experience.

And those of us not able to visit this winter will be consoled now that facilities at Old Faithful are open again by watching the Old Faithful webcam for OFG eruption times and other happenings in Upper Geyser Basin.

2010

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Geysers and hot springs: personal report for late August 2010

Categories: Geysers, News, Thermal features
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My routine whenever I’m at Old Faithful Village is to go to the Visitor Center when it opens at 8:00 am to check out the geyser predictions for the day. Last month I was able to catch most of my favorites—except Grand and also Fan and Mortar eluded me.

I was especially lucky to see two Beehive eruptions from the start, because before I was there and now after my visit, Beehive’s indicator is taking over. The indicator is a small geyser located next to Beehive’s large cone, and it commonly spouts a few feet for 10 to 30 minutes before Beehive’s incredibly powerful straight, high eruption. Now the indicator is going off every few hours and Beehive rarely.

With a little patience I was able to see a lovely Fountain Geyser eruption (at Fountain Paint Pots) and two Great Fountains. Unfortunately, the invaluable Lynn Stephens is no longer monitoring Great Fountain; for the past several years she has stayed in that geyser’s parking lot and noted when the overflow began, so that the prediction window could be narrowed, making the wait for the eruption much shorter. Due to an unexplainable fiasco with the National Park Service, her volunteer services have been terminated. She is sorely missed by geyser watchers. However, this summer we did have an apprentice of Lynn’s, Maureen from West Yellowstone, who has been able to watch the overflow quite often and help those of us with less time than we’d like to have see the eruptions.

Walking out beyond Grand Geyser one day I noted that Chromatic Pool was more colorful (because hotter) than its neighbor, Beauty Pool. At Biscuit Basin, the three pools as you enter there seemed to me the hottest I’ve ever seen them, and the perpetual spouter (new in 2006) near the river continues to play. The most beautiful pools I saw this year were at Midway Geyser Basin. Besides the ever-incredible Grand Prismatic Spring, its neighbors Turquoise and Opal pools were outstanding. I believe Opal erupted a few days after I was there.

So the park is never the same on two visits, but it never fails to delight me!

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Countdown to Yellowstone’s winter season

Categories: Geysers, Winter
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There’s not much snow yet [in December 2009], but the southern part of the park could get three to six inches this weekend, and visitors who want to enter on snowcoaches or snowmobiles on opening day, December 15th, may be in luck. Or they may have to go the only way allowed, if there’s not enough snow——by commercial wheeled vehicle, that is, buses.

You can check out what Old Faithful looks like in daylight hours at the Old Faithful Webcam and judge for yourself whether the snow is getting deep by checking out whether or not the viewing benches are covered. Then starting Tuesday, the predicted time of the geyser’s next eruption will be posted.

Meanwhile, if you just want to enjoy ice-skating in a swinging western town, you can visit the newly revamped skating rink in West Yellowstone, Montana. According to a local news source:

The new and improved ice rink will make the process of making and maintaining a smoother surface easier and more efficient by keeping the water in place while freezing. In years past, the ground would have to be completely frozen and then saturated with a fine mist, a process that could take weeks to accomplish. This year, the ice rink was erected and flooded in two days.

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