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Yellowstone Grand Prismatic Spring Boardwalk


Yesterday after off work (#digitalnomads), we drove Ruby, the VW bug, to Yellowstone to see the Grand Prismatic Spring Boardwalk at sunset. It’s located at the Midway Geyser Basin, about a 45 minute drive from the West Yellowstone National Park entrance. It was both mine and Val’s first time seeing it in person and we didn’t know exactly what to expect.

First, because it was after 8pm when we arrived, we were able to pull right into the parking lot and find plenty of free spots. So there’s a great tip for you! Go during dinner time and you won’t have nearly as many tourists.

Now that’s not to say there still weren’t a lot of people visiting the famous site. As we walked up the boardwalk, there were streams of folks headed up and down. But… most were headed down. And the ones headed up had nice camera gear like me and were all trying their best to capture their own unique images of this iconic landmark. At sunset, no less.

As you walk toward the Great Prismatic Spring, you first cross the Firehole River, which has over 4,000 gallons of boiling hot water pouring into it every minute. Yes. Minute. We didn’t know that until we saw the orientation sign later along the path. But it made sense now why we saw people walking toward the edge to dip their feet in the river. So now, I want to go dip my feet in the river too. We will just have to go back.

This is the boardwalk

The main part of the Prismatic Spring is behind me where all those people are standing. This is me thinking: Where’s all the color, like the images I’ve seen on Pinterest?

I’m also thinking: So, if I were to accidentally get pushed over the edge, the ground would literally melt off my shoes? Or worse, I could DIE!? Yes. I could. And the park was nice enough to let me know, in 5 different languages, and with cartoon illustrations. That poor cartoon mom, watching in horror as her son melts in the boiling water.

Before you approach the Grand Prismatic Spring, you first walk past the Excelsior Geyser. It erupted in the 1800s and left this huge bubbling chasm.

Here’s the view of Grand Prismatic Spring

Well, one of them. From the ground here, you mainly see all the steam coming up and the orange and dark blues and purples along the surface. This is when we learned that to see the springs the way I expected to see them, in all its glory, we needed to be those people up on that rock. See them? Way up there on the right in my picture. They are the insiders who knew to go on a hike to get the higher view. You can bet finding that hike was the first thing we googled when we got out of the park and had cell reception.

But seeing it from the ground, was still pretty magnificent. Wouldn’t you agree?

The Turquoise Pool

As you walk back toward the parking lot, you pass the Turquoise pool. Which wasn’t turquoise. I imagine that when the Sun is above in the mid-afternoon, you could see the color then. But at sunset, everything was golden. This location has got to be one of the few places I’d actually want to photograph during, what is commonly thought of as, the worst time of day: High noon.

So, the big takeaways are: 1. Go around dinner time to avoid the crowds. 2. Take your shoes off and dip your feet into the river to feel the water heated from the spring. 3. Don’t fall into the boiling pit of despair! 4. Visit here for the close-up views which are amazing, but if you want to see it from afar, head over to Fairy Falls. Oh, and 5. Bring bug spray, because mosquitos and those suckers (ha) are relentless.

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