Geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park | Debbi Marquette Photography

January 11, 2022

Geothermal features in Yellowstone

Regardless of where you are from, you have probably heard about Yellowstone National Park.   It has everything you want to see in a National Park – dramatic landscapes, and wildlife such as bison, bears, pronghorns, wolves and elk.  The geothermal features in Yellowstone, including hot springs, fumaroles, mud pots and geysers, are what makes Yellowstone different. 

Yellowstone is huge.  I’ll say that again.  Yellowstone is huge.   The park is one of the most diverse National Parks that I ever visited.  It is over 2 million acres.  That is larger that the states of Rhode Island and Delaware.  Plan enough time for your trip.   I have seen so many people plan two days and there is no way you can see it all in two days.  Then they try to cram so much into a day they don’t enjoy the park.   Don’t underestimate the driving distances in the park.  When you are there expect traffic jams, especially in the summer.  In addition, wildlife and roadwork will also cause traffic jams.  Yellowstone averages over 4 million visitors each year with June and July averaging 100,000 per day.   

Fumaroles, Mud Pots and Geysers of Yellowstone National Park

There are 4 main types of geothermal features in Yellowstone.   Hot Springs, which will be covered in another blog.

So what is a geothermal feature?   Basically it’s a fancy way of grouping all of the geysers, fumaroles, mud pots and hot springs that exist in Yellowstone.   All of the geothermal features start off as the same thing — basically hot water.  By the time the hot water hits the surface, it is one of the four geothermal features.  Which one depends on how much water there is and the geology. 


A geyser is a hot spring that discharges intermittent jets of steam and water.  It is produced by the heating of underground water that comes into contact or is very close to magma.  

The most famous geyser is Old Faithful.  Old Faithful is not the largest or the prettiest geyser, but it is known for its fairly regular prediction of times it erupts.  

White dome geyser is another example.   


Another geothermal feature in Yellowstone is a fumarole.  A fumarole is a steam vent.  It is the hottest of all of the features.  There are fumaroles all over Yellowstone.  

You can see them from a distance.  

You can see them alongside hot springs. 

In addition, you can see them coming out of rocks as in Orange Spring Mound in Mammoth Hot Springs.  

Sometimes they just appear out of the ground.  


Mudpots, sometimes called paint pots, because they can display a lot of colors, occur when the supply of hot water is limited and hydrogen sulfide gas is present.  You may remember that smell as the smell of rotten eggs.  These form a gooey mix that burps and bubbles.


Artist Paint pots is one area providing a lot of color as well as views.  Notice the mountains in the background.  It is truly a spectacular view and area to see.  

Yellowstone offers extraordinary views, it is constantly changing, and the landscape and wildlife you will see is beautiful.  Yellowstone is meant to be experienced.  Certainly, there isn’t any other place in the United States like it.   Happy travels.

Debbi Marquette Photography is located in Upstate New York at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.  Debbi is  a travel, landscape and bald eagle photographer specializing in artistic, authentic, and memorable landscape and wildlife photography.   She travels frequently, lives near the mountains and constantly has a camera in her hand to capture photographs so others can see the beauty of our world.

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