When I made the trip to Yellowstone National Park I really didn’t know what to expect. I had seen pictures and videos of the place but until you see a place with your own eyes you just don’t know. But when I got there I quickly fell in love with the place! The first night I stayed in the grand Lake Hotel, I arrived very late at night and hadn’t seen anything of the park yet.
When I woke up everything was smokey from a burning forest fire. I left the hotel to explore the park and the first place I found was West Thumb Geyser Basin. Two things shocked me right away. First, there were mud pots boiling and spitting away right in the parking lot, they weren’t even the main attraction, they were in the median of the parking areas! Here in Maryland these mud pots would have been a State Park of their own not just parking lot obstacles… Second thing that got me was the scale of everything. I was dying to see the Grand Prismatic Spring in Midway Geyser Basin with all of its colors and it did not disappoint.
Even when I was walking the boardwalk beside the Grand Prismatic Spring I failed to really get a sense of the size. It wasn’t until I climbed the steep hill behind the spring on the Fairy Falls trail that I got the true picture of how big it was. It dwarfed the people on the boardwalks. The colors were nothing short of spectacular from above. It is truly a wonder of nature. It was steaming hot from the volcanic activity below the surface, so hot that on a 95 degree F day it was still steaming!
Much to my dismay I have heard stories of people going off the boardwalk and treading on the very fragile ecosystem around Grand Prismatic Spring. The bacterial mats of heat loving microbes are actually very fragile and grow very slowly. Footprints can ruin these mats for years. It is amazing that something so big can be so fragile. It is also amazing that some people travel halfway across the world only to jump off the boardwalk when no one is looking and tread where they are not supposed to go. I guess some people think they are above the rules which is a real shame. Rules are the only thing that can protect such a fragile ecosystem. Maybe that and a little common sense… The crust around these features is often very thin and people are literally risking their lives. Likely all for a selfie.