Thom and I spent Day 3 in Yellowstone. We had originally planned to hike into the backcountry in the Tetons and spend three days up there, but given the weather conditions, we thought we’d delay another day to see if things improved. It’s the end of September, but we felt like we’d gone into a winter wonderland.

Of course our first stop was Old Faithful. But first I had to talk to the park ranger who gave me a stern talking-to because I was speeding past her in a 25mph zone. Yes, I was doing… 27mph. I guess it was a slow day for her. Anyway, we walked up to Old Faithful– which apparently isn’t as faithful as it used to be– just as it started to erupt. Perfect timing!

Then we headed out on a tour of the park. Pretty much everything in the park is either steaming, bubbling, or involves crazy colors.

Apparently many of these colors come from microorganisms that thrive on the hot water and sulfur. There was one really amazing area that reminded me of the surface of Jupiter’s moon Io (which, in fact, has active sulfur volcanoes).

If it was anywhere else, you’d think there were all kinds of forest fires around the park. But it’s just steam rising from pools and streams.

The textures are amazing.

And in some places there’s so much steam that it completely obscured the landscape. Here, for example, is the walkway near a pool of geysers. You can see a couple of people walking along it (click for a larger view).

We headed over to Lower Yellowstone Falls, where you can actually stand right at the brink of the 300-foot waterfall. It’s really cool to watch all of that water plunge to the canyon below.

Looking down the canyon, it’s easy to see why the park is named “Yellowstone”. The sun came out for the only time that day, illuminating the canyon:

At a different viewpoint, we could see Lower Falls and all of the water vapor from the plunge blasting up the canyon walls.

Thom took a picture of me on a bench at Artist’s Point. I was on this same bench with Kathy back when I was three or four years old, then again with my kids about ten years ago. Here I am again!

Despite the clouds and the cold, it was a pretty cool day.