The Incredible Colors and Structures of Yellowstone’s Hot Springs… It’s Another World

The Irish would be jealous of the beautiful green hot spring found in Yellowstone National Park— and, the clarity of the water. It almost wants to make you shed your clothes and jump in. Bad idea. The water emerges from its volcano based heater at 198° F (92° C).

Beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and incredible geology. Yellowstone has it all. There is a reason why it became America’s first National Park in 1872. I’ll be focusing on the geology today. Yellowstone sits on top of one of the world’s largest volcanoes. Believe me, when I say, we wouldn’t want to see it blow. The proximity of the lava to the surface is the reason behind all of its hydrothermal features. For one, Yellowstone has more active geysers than the rest of the world combined according to information in the Visitor Center. The geysers are slated for another post; today it is all about hot springs. Peggy and I were captured by their vibrant colors and unique structures. The photos in this post were taken by both of us. We visited this past fall when we were in the middle of our 12,000 mile tour. It was my third visit. Peggy once spent an idyllic summer working there when she was going to college.

Picture of hot spring/geyser structure in Yellowstone National Park by photographers Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
This is one of the hot spring structures that we found both intriguing and fun.
Picture looking into the depths of a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park by photographers Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
This hot spring provided a view into the depths from which the hot water emerges. BTW, the hydrothermal features of Yellowstone provide home for trillions of microbes, some of which may date back to the very beginning of life on earth. Scientist have identified approximately two percent of the different kinds.
Picture of small geysers in a colorful hot spring by photographers Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
A small geyser added action to the color and structure of this hot spring.
Photo of small 'boiling' hot spring at Yellowstone by photographers Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
This small, golden brown geyser looked like it was boiling. The steam had the tell-tale smell of sulphur which is typical of the hot springs and geysers.
Photo of large hot spring at Yellowstone by Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
This hot spring was empty for the moment. It would soon change as its geyser erupted. The stream is part of the appropriately named Fire Hole River that water from the hot springs and geysers flows into.
Pictures of Yellowstone taken by photographers Curt and Peggy Mekemson.
The Fire Hole River provides the backdrop for this hot spring. Also, note the indentation in the foreground.
It was a wee bit weird.
This hot spring showed a similar type of structure along its edges. Note the murky depth.
The depths of this large hot spring were much clearer.
As the water flows out from the hot springs into the Fire Hole River, it creates its own unique colors and structures.
The green stream flowing along. Not surprising, green was only one of the colors flowing out from the hot springs.
For example, this golden/yellow/orange stream.
A different perspective as the golden trickle empties into a larger stream.
Here, the color of the hot springs stream had a rich brownish tinge to it.
A brown, braided stream. I admit, my fascination here was with the dead stump.
The mineral laden water from the hot springs created this rock waterfall.
And these ‘islands’ on the edge of the Fire Hole River.
I’ll conclude today with this colorful display created by Yellowstone’s hot spring/geyser magic.

36 thoughts on “The Incredible Colors and Structures of Yellowstone’s Hot Springs… It’s Another World

  1. I’ve know about the hot springs and geysers, but I never thought about the obvious colors they would produce. I have to start using my head for more than a hat rack, eh? 🤪😏

  2. We have fond memories from Yellowstone too, we were amazed by the landscape and the countless shades of colours all those hot springs can have. We haven’t ever imagined that could really exist, it’s another world, as you well said🙂
    Wonderful shots! We missed some of that clarity of the water..

  3. I like this collection of hot springs and especially the colours produced by the minerals. Those, matched with the striking blue sky make an outstanding post. What can’t be captured sufficiently in a series of photos is how much action there is at Yellowstone: things bubbling, steaming, exploding, bursting, cascading…in all directions. But you have done a fairly good job of alluding to all that with these.

    • The recovery has been amazing, Dave. Peggy and I were there a year or so after the fires and even then nature was doing a marvelous job. Crowds were around but not like peak season. We were there just a couple of weeks before the snow hit. Lucky.

  4. You got some great captures Curt. Really up close with great colors and intricacies. It looks like som of my captures but mine were so far away. Maybe the time of year as well have a color change, I expect! ❤️

  5. I’ve never been to Yellowstone, but it’s obviously a place that should be on anyone’s list of attractions to visit. When I saw that green, I assumed at first it was algae. Then I realized that algae probably wouldn’t survive in that heat. Or would it? All of the colors are fantastic, but the textures are interesting, too. In the second photo, the ‘fuzziness’ reminds me of those toys from years back that had a kind of close-cropped, fuzzy covering. I guess the technical term was ‘flocked,’ but it surely does look similar to these formations.

    • Depending on the temperature— algae can survive in water up to 135 degrees F, Linda, and does grow in hot springs. Studies being done at Yellowstone show that it detoxifies arsenic, which might prove to be quite helpful.
      Looking at the toys, I can see where flocked might apply. Not so much on flocked Christmas trees. Grin.

  6. Curt, sublime photos of the springs at Yellowstone and I had no idea about them! Thank you so much for your informative post (I definitely won’t go bathing in them then!) and the photos are sublime with the most amazing colours! I bet that must have been one of the best summer jobs ever for Peggy!

  7. Thanks for sharing the magic of Yellowstone, Curt and Peggy. Yellowstone is such an incredible place, another world, and you did a great job of capturing the colors here.

  8. Great photos and info, Curt! I think the hot springs at Yellowstone are one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. I was wholly unprepared for how cool they would be, and I think my poor husband was ready to push me into one after the zillionth photo I insisted on stopping to take!

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