boiling river

by Anne

[September 8th]

Galen is passionate about fly-fishing which leads us off the beaten track many a time to glorious rivers in glorious places. Today it is the turn of the Lava River, which they are going to walk from its single entry point. After a wonderful brunch on the river bank, they set off on foot while we head out on wheels to explore the rest of the main terrace as well as the upper terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs, which is just a hop away, from the eastern entrance this time.


Lava River


Mammoth Hot Springs from the main terrace


Cupid Spring


Canary Spring


Travertine Occupants

Feasting on Chemicals
Filamentous Bacteria

Thread-like filamentous bacteria link together, creating chains that can spread into aprons.  They live on hydrogen sulfide gas rising through vents.

Living on Sunshine

Like flowering plants, colorful cyanobacteria use light for energy, or photosynthesize.  If other microorganisms did not consume hydrogen sulfide gas near the vents, these sun-loving microbes would be poisoned. 

~ taken from an info board on site

Back on wheels we do the loop around the upper terrace, pass back through Mammoth Springs and pull in at the picnic spot on the Lava River, just as B&G emerge from under the bridge:


Orange Spring Mound

which reads:

Orange Spring Mound

1  Yellowstone’s volcano heats water deep underground.

2  Under great pressure, the water percolates upward through buried limestone, dissolving a mineral called calcium carbonate.

3  Above the ground, the water begins to cool and evaporate.  Gases are released and water pressure decreases.  Orange Spring Mound gradually grows as water flows over it, depositing calcium carbonate which hardens into travertine.

Heat dwelling bacteria and algae grow abundantly in Orange Spring Mound’s water creating tapestries of “living color.”


Angel Terrace


After all the geyser viewing, I had only one more request: Boiling River Trail and its destination which for some reason took on proportions of mysterious wonder in my mind. It did involve soaking in hot:cold water in a river out in the wilderness, which is surely the most favourite thing I could possibly dream of doing. Its destination alone was mysterious (most probably due to my habit of never reading instructions properly until it is absolutely necessary) and so it was, then, that, not minutes after entering the park at the north entrance a whole week back, we drove right on by it for a good kilometre without the slightest hint of its being there.

I have to admit I was a little nervous about actually doing what I so longed to do, not least of all due to all the bacteria warnings, but also due to the presence of other people in front of whom I would have to appear semi-naked (and that was before I knew how difficult it was to keep one’s balance over slippery rocks trying to reach a soaking spot)!
Still, I wasn’t going to miss out!

We found the parking easily, and the stroll along the sparkling Gardner River was indeed fit for slops.


Steam clouds appear.

Nervous excitement.

Scorching streams bubbling their way along; thrilling to bewitching proportions (yes, it takes very little for some of us to gain the same elevations that others find riding gigantic waves on a tiny board).

Everybody has stumbled out into the river where the arrow directed, but yours truly has seen stairs going down into the crystal clear water a little further back and I am not going to budge an inch from there.
H&I have the nook to ourselves and can wallow just inches from the steaming waters spilling into the icy pool, the main river rushing past just beyond the shelter of gathered rocks. Heaven is…!
H does attempt to join the crowd later but succumbs to lack of balance at the first opportunity. He is clearly enjoying it there, but cannot entice me in. B&G are undoubtedly having the best time of all, the scramble having been worth every minute.


scorching temperatures


spot H and B&G further back


yep, all fours


B&G wobble their way out

An underground discharge of water from a mysterious source beneath nearby hydrothermal terraces flows out of the ground at over 100 degrees. The channel joins the otherwise cold waters of the Gardner River, creating a blended pool that is too good to pass up.

~ taken from

What an awesome afternoon, but the day is not yet done.


mule deer en route back to camp


B&G leave us behind back at camp from where we will walk down to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone while they head out in search of another catch.
It is a lovely stroll down beside Tower Creek to the Tower Falls and all the way down to the Yellowstone River, and then back up, with hopes for a short ice cream break dashed as we came face to face with doors firmly shut for the day.


the path down to the creek




Yellowstone Canyon


The day ends with a spectacular display; the heavens too, are on fire.

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Thought for the day:
“I was so worried about getting approval that I forgot what I liked. I forgot how to be myself”
~ Amy Pearson