Saturday, July 25, 2015

Grand Prismatic Spring, Second Try

In general, Craig and I are very careful to stay on marked trails, not park in restricted or no-parking zones, and usually follow the guidelines that keep our parks in pristine condition.

We always put money in self pay envelopes, we don't pick wildflowers, and if we had a pet would certainly clean up after it.

But on this day we ignored this sign and went off the marked and maintained trail so that we, like many before us, could get a "from the top" view of the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring.

After reading my post about how we were disappointed by the steamy eye-level view we had gotten at Midway Geyser Basin, Donna sent me the URL of a post she had written about how she had gone up a trail that went up the hill from the Fairy Falls Trail to the rock overlook, from which the view of the Grand Prismatic is spectacular.  

Thank you Donna, especially for the advice about going on a warm afternoon when there was less steam.

We followed the cinder gravel Fairy Falls Trail for about  a half mile and then went up one of the many unauthorized paths.  Although it was not very far, I found it was a rather difficult climb, in part because since it was not a developed path, it was blocked by fallen trees and slippery rock falls. 

I was very excited to see the bright pool thru the trees as we climbed.

We could hear the voices of other climbers who were already at the rock overlook.

When we reached the top there was an Asian family just leaving. 

While we were there a few other people came and went. At one time there were only seven of us up there, but over a hundred people on the boardwalks around the spring below. I wondered if they could see the color since there still was a bit of steam rising.

I don't understand why the Park Service doesn't build a staircase and a viewing platform on the side of that hill. They built stairs down to the waterfalls, and up around some of the mud pots and geysers. This place is so fantastic and in the visitors center they show pictures from up high. But unless you get up to this point, you will never see it. People are going up any way they can, and in the process causing erosion and damage that could be prevented with a maintained trail.

The Grand Prismatic Spring viewed from the hill above the Fairy Falls Trail

I didn't realize we were wearing the colors of the Grand Prismatic until after we were there, but here we are, me in turquoise and Craig in rust-orange!

After scrambling back down the hill, we decided to hike the rest of the five mile (round trip) trail to Fairy Falls. 

Except for a few boggy spots, the path was very flat and free of obstacles like rocks and roots. There were no mosquitoes in the pine forest, but there were a few large deer flies.

The trail was not very crowded. Craig thinks that is because as soon as a hike gets longer than a mile, many people will pass.

But we walked it, and found the falls well worth the effort.

It appeared to us that the falls was a double.

The higher falls coming straight down from the cliff, and the second falls coming from a recessed shelf area just below the lighter colored overhanging rock. Which is to say, there seemed to be a lot more water coming down the lower part of the falls.  It was quite enchanting.

By the time we were almost back to the Jeep the shadows were getting long and we didn't have much energy left.

And as this perky fellow might say: "Thats all for now, catch you next time."


  1. Oh you hoodlums you!!! Thank you, thank you and thank you! I'd say it was meant to be as soon as you got dressed! Love the shadow couple!

  2. I am thoroughly enjoying your Yellowstone blogs!

  3. That was a spectacular spring and well worth the hike. I love how you matched the colors.

  4. You are such rebels. But personally I'm really glad you ignored that sign. Really gorgeous pictures.

  5. Very nice pictures. We are ready to go back to Yellowstone!

  6. Lovely lovely photo...wish they would develop that trail, just as you do...great photos of Yellowstone and we sure are enjoying it through your eyes! Loved that park when we were there....

    1. The usable area of the "observation rock" is pretty small. If they put in a good trail, it would get incredibly crowded and bad feelings could result.

  7. at least you weren't 'rooked' out of a good view...

  8. Glad you found it! ( BTW, it's Diana, not Donna )

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