Yellowstone Location Facts USA – Tour Travel Hotels

Yellowstone Location Facts USA - Tour Travel Hotels

Long ago, when the United States was hardly out of its teens, you could sometimes find leathery backwoodsmen who told tales of a fabulous land to the west where fountains of boiling water ascended high past the trees as the floor quivered to their roaring. There were, they said, mountains of glass and mountains of sulphur, places where you could catch a trout and cook it straight away in a pool of boiling water. There were lakes like bubbling paint pots and tiers of porcelain baths where a man could wash at whatever temperature he chose.

Yellowstone

As for rivers – some set off for the distant Pacific while their neighbours flowed away to the Atlantic, others flowed away to the Atlantic, others flowed so that the friction warmed their beds, and the most significant river of all plunged down a ravine the colour of purest gold. There were even, they said, forests of ‘petrified stone trees’ were ‘petrified birds sang petrified songs’. No one believed them, of course, but the stories persisted.

Yellowstone

In 1871 a government expedition went to investigate; its report led President Grant in 1872 to declare the whole area, 3500sq miles (9000sq km) in extent, the world’s first-ever National Park: ‘Withdrawn from settlement or sale…for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.’ The name Yellowstone is from the native American name for its mightiest river.

Yellowstone

Since then, millions of visitors have discovered that, in general, the old-timers were right. Streams do drain to each side of the Continental Divide within the park, and there is a glass mountain – Obsidian cliff, composed of volcanic glass that Shoshone warriors once chipped into arrowheads. On the Minerva Terrace, natural calcite baths rise in steaming tiers, and at Fountain Paint Pot there are boiling mud pools stained by minerals to all the colours of the rainbow. But it is something of a disappointment to learn that the Firehole River owes its warmth not to friction but to the hot rocks beneath.

Yellowstone

Yellowstone’s most talked-about feature is still its geysers – awesome waterspouts such as Old Faithful, which every 1 n half hours or so climbs boiling and roaring up to 200ft (60m) into the sky. The many others, all different, include Grotto Geyser emerging from a white silica cave, Riverside Geyser arching a plume of boiling water over the Firehole River, and the steamboat – the tallest in the world – with eruptions nearly twice as high as Old Faithful’s but erratic, spouting at intervals of anything from four days to four years.

Yellowstone

The geysers’ performance depends on the chance meeting of three things – an abundant water supply, a powerful heat source and a rock structure that lends itself to a natural plumbing system. The heat source is molten rock from the core of the continent, which at Yellowstone is little more than about 3 miles (5km) below the surface.

Yellowstone

The park’s plentiful rainfall seeps down through the porous rock to a depth of about 5000ft (1500m). There, under pressure, it is superheated to a temperature far above boiling. In a round trip taking centuries, hot water rises towards the surface, and near ground level, some of the hottest turn to steam. It blasts out the column of water above it, starting a chain reaction in which the reduced pressure lets more superheated water flash into steam – maintaining the geyser eruption until the plumbing system is empty. When hot water refills the underground chambers from underneath, the cycle starts again.

Yellowstone

Altogether there are some 10,000 thermal features in the park. As well as geysers there are pots of bubbling, broth-like mud, gushes of sulphurous steam from vents called fumaroles and hot springs often stained emerald or turquoise by algae that have adapted to live in their near-boiling temperatures.

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