Today, our last full day in Yellowstone, we planned to visit some of the remaining parts of the park which we had not yet covered (mainly to the north) namely Lamar Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs.
Lamar Valley: I have written more about Lamar Valley in the Yellowstone Wildlife page of this Blog (look right side links). Lamar valley buzzes with activity usually during dawn and in dusk when animals come for feeding. We decided to go to Lamar valley early in morning to beat the crowd as well as enjoy the nature all by ourselves!.
Starting at 5:30 am  from our cabin in Canyon area, we drove north towards Tower Roosvelt junction. Make a right here towards the North-East entrance to go to Lamar Valley. Lamar Valley
Lamar Valley is home to herds of elk, bison, and several packs of wolves, making it Yellowstone National Park’s prime location to view wildlife. Lamar Valley yields a breathtaking wide-open landscape scattered with ponds and large boulders. Lamary Valley
Its saturation in natural beauty and wondrous opportunity make Lamar Valley as attractive to tourists as it is to wildlife. You can read more about Lamary valley at Yellowstone Wildife. After spending nearly 3 hours at this beautiful place during which we saw bisons, Grizzly bear, deers and lots of different wildflowers in full bloom, we decided to drive back and visit Mammoth Hot Springs. For this you have to drive back to Tower Roosvelt junction and start driving west to Mammoth Springs. The total distance is around 30 miles from Lamar valley to Mammoth Springs.
Mammoth Hot Springs: Several key ingredients combine to make the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces: heat, water, limestone, and a rock fracture system through which hot water can reach the earth’s surface.Today’s geothermal activity is a link to past volcanism. A partially molten magma chamber, remnant of a cataclysmic volcanic explosion 600,000 years ago in central Yellowstone, supplies one of the ingredients, heat.Hot water is the creative force of the terraces. Without it, terrace growth ceases and color vanishes. The source of the water flowing out of Yellowstone’s geothermal features is rain and snow. Falling high on the slopes in and around Yellowstone, water seeps deep into the earth. This cold ground water is warmed by heat radiating from the magma chamber before rising back to the surface.Hot water must be able to reach the earth’s surface in relatively large volumes to erupt as a geyser or flow as a hot spring. In Yellowstone, many conduits remain from the collapse of the giant caldera; frequent earthquakes keep this underground “plumbing” system open. Even though Mammoth lies north of the caldera ring-fracture system, a fault trending north from Norris Geyser Basin, 21 miles (34 km) away, may connect Mammoth to the hot water of that system. A system of small fissures carries water upward to create approximately 50 hot springs in the Mammoth Hot Springs area.Another necessary ingredient for terrace growth is the mineral calcium carbonate. Thick layers of sedimentary limestone, deposited millions of years ago by vast seas, lie beneath the Mammoth area. As ground water seeps slowly downward and laterally, it comes in contact with hot gases charged with carbon dioxide rising from the magma chamber. Some carbon dioxide is readily dissolved in the hot water to form a weak carbonic acid solution. This hot, acidic solution dissolves great quantities of limestone as it works up through the rock layers to the surface hot springs. Once exposed to the open air, some of the carbon dioxide escapes from solution. As this happens, limestone can no longer remain in solution. A solid mineral reforms and is deposited as the travertine that forms the terraces. Some of the important points of interest here are:
 Lower Terrace overlook :==>

Opal Terrace: Opal Spring flows from the base of Capitol Hill, which is across the road from Liberty Cap. After years of dormancy, this spring became active in 1926 and began depositing up to one foot (0.3m) of travertine per year.

Mammoth Spring
In 1947, a tennis court was removed to allow natural expansion of the terrace. Further growth threatens the historic home next to Opal Terrace. Designed by Robert Reamer and built in 1908, the house is an example of Prairie Style architecture. Among Reamer’s other designs are the Old Faithful Inn and the Roosevelt Arch at Yellowstone’s North Entrance. Today sandbags and an earthen wall protect the house. The National Park Service strives to protect both historic and natural resources. At Opal Terrace both types of resources must be considered.
Liberty Cap: This 37-foot (11-m) hot spring cone marks the northern portion of Mammoth Hot Springs. Liberty Cap was named in 1871 by the Hayden Survey party because of its marked resemblance to the peaked caps worn during the French Revolution. Its unusual formation was created by a hot spring whose plumbing remained open and in one location for a long time. Its internal pressure was sufficient to raise the water to a great height, allowing mineral deposits to build continuously for perhaps hundreds of years.
Palette Spring: Water flows from a flat area and then down a steep ridge, creating a colorful hillside palette of brown, green, and orange (the colors are due to the presence of different heat-tolerant bacteria). This effect is much the same as an artist would achieve by allowing wet paint to run down a vertical surface. Palette Spring
Minerva Terrace: Minerva Spring is a favorite not only because of its wide range of bright colors but also for its ornate travertine formations. Since the 1890s, when records were first kept on the activity of Mammoth Hot Springs, Minerva has gone through both active and inactive mammoth4.JPG
periods. For several years in the early 1900s, it was completely dry, but by 1951 reports state that Minerva was again active.

During some cycles of activity, water discharge and mineral deposition have been so great that boardwalks have been buried beneath mounds of newly deposited travertine. Consequently, an elevated and movable boardwalk now spans the hill in the vicinity of Minerva. In recent years, hot spring activity has shifted dramatically from Minerva to other features on the Lower Terraces, and back again.

Jupiter and Mound Terraces: These terraces display cycles of activity typical of Mammoth Hot Springs. In 1937, Mound Terrace was called “the most beautifully colored spring”. Inactive for decades, its weathered travertine shows new Mammoth Springs
patterns where chunks of the soft rock have broken or fallen. In the 1980s, jupiter Terrace flowed heavily and overtook boardwalks several times. It has been dry since 1992.If you continue past Mound Terrace, you’ll see the top of Minerva Terrace and possibly the hot spring whose water create Minerva. Additional steps take you to the Upper Terraces, which you  can also reach by car.The entrance to the Upper Terrace Drive is 2 miles south of the Albright Visitor Center on the road to Norris. This one way scenic drive winds for 1.5 miles among Hot Springs and travertine formations.
Main Terrace: You can view this large terrace and its colorful springs from several vantage points. To your left, follow the board walk to an overlook of New Blue Sping. One of the best examples of the area’s dynamic character, New Map
Blue Spring shifts activity frequently and can become active or inactive several times in one year. It began overflowing to the north in summer 2000. An overlook leads to a view of the entire Main Terrace; at the far side you can see Canary Spring. At the beginning of the trail to Canary Spring, a short spur trail takes you to a view of Cupid Spring, which was active until early 2000. Continue on the trail to benches where you can relax and watch the waters and colors of Main Terrace.
Canary Spring: You’ll find flowing water, new travertine formations, and shade as you walk to Canary Spring. Listen to the cascading water and imagine you were here in late 1880s. At that time yellow filamentous bacteria was prominent. Yellow remains a common color near the vent, and the spring also exhibits the orange, brown, and green seen in the other hot springs of the area.
Prospect Springs: For a few years in the 1990’s, this area was more active next to the road. Travertine formed the distinctive mound in one year. In recent years, most of the activity shifted toward the trees. And it may have shifted again by the time you visit.
New Highland Terrace: Tree skeletons stand as monuments to a landscape created in the 1950s. This area has been inactive since the 1980s.
Orange Spring Mound: This spring flows slowely from several vents at its top. Its striking colors come from the thermophiles living in the hot water. Orange mound
Bath Lake: Bath Lake was popular swimming hole until it dried up in 1926. It filled again after the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake and remained a lake through the 1970s. By then bathing in hydrothermal features was illegal because it destroys fragile formations and change their activity.
White Elephant Back Terrace: Water laden with calcium carbonate has flowed from a fissure to build this ridge, which an early tour guide thought resembled the back of an elephant. Activity conctantly shifts here. White Elephant
Angel Terrace: The dramatic presence of this feature comes from abundant water, white formations, and colorful thermophiles that thrive in hot water. Angel Terrace was dry and crumbling for decades, but resumed activity in 1985. Some of the other dormant features you have seen on this drive may one day flow again too.
Click Here to check the live web cam video from mammoth springs.
Mammoth Spring
After seeing the Mammoth Springs, we started our journey south back towards Canyon area Norris Basin, stopping at Virginia Cascades which is a 2 mile diversion on the road between Norris and Canyon Area.Finally we reached our cabin at the Canyon Area, thus ending our 5 day sojurn to the one of the beautiful place in USA – The Yellowstone National Park which will be permanently etched in our memory.Tomorrow we will embark on a long drive to Glacier National Park which is around 450 miles from Yellowstone. 
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Today, the plan is to cover the Canyon area of the National park. Since we are just outside the south entrance at Flagg Ranch resorts, the total distance is around 60 miles to the canyon area. As always it is very essential to start your day with the sun so that you can give yourself plenty of time exploring the park and avoid the crowd.
Driving north from South entrance, you would pass through the some of the natural points in West thumb area and Village area. Some of the must see points in Village area are:
Natural Bridge: Located just south of Bridge Bay Campground, it is an easy one-mile walk to the Natural Bridge. There is also a bicycle trail leading to the bridge. The Natural Bridge was formed by erosion of this rhyolite outcrop by Bridge Creek. The top of the bridge is approximately 51 ft. above the creek. A short switchback trail leads to the top, though travel across the bridge is now prohibited to protect this feature.
Fishing Bridge: .5 mile east from the fishing bridge junction in the main road is the fishing bridge. This is a very lively place and you can see people fishing standing on this bridge.The original bridge was built in 1902. It was a rough-hewn Fishing Bridge
corduroy log bridge with a slightly different alignment than the current bridge. The existing bridge was built in 1937. The Fishing Bridge was historically a tremendously popular place to fish. Angling from the bridge was quite good, Fishing bridge view
due to the fact that it was a major spawning area for cutthroat trout. However, because of the decline of the cutthroat population (in part, a result of this practice), the bridge was closed to fishing in 1973. Since that time, it has become a popular place to observe fish. It is at the location where the Yellowstone River emerges from Yellowstone Lake. After spending some time here, we continued our northward journey to the Canyon area.
LeHardy Rapids: The LeHardy Rapids are a cascade on the Yellowstone River, three miles north of Fishing Bridge. Geomorphologically, it is thought that this is the actual spot where the lake ends and the river continues it’s northward flow. LeHardy Rapids
In the spring, many cutthroat trout may be seen here, resting in the shallow pools before expending bursts of energy to leap up the rapids on the their way to spawn under Fishing Bridge. The rapids were named for Paul LeHardy, a civilian topographer with the Jones Expedition in 1873. Jones and a partner started off on a raft with the intent of surveying the river, planning to meet the rest of their party at the Lower Falls. Upon hitting the rapids, the raft capsized, and many of the supplies were lost, including guns, bedding, and food. LeHardy and his partner saved what they could and continued their journey to the falls on foot.The rapids became a popular visitor attraction when a boardwalk was built in 1984 providing access to the area. Due to increased visitation, a group of harlequin ducks, which once frequented this area in spring, have not been seen for several years. The boardwalk has consequently been closed in early spring to protect this sensitive habitat, but the harlequins have not returned
Canyon Area: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the primary geologic feature in the Canyon District. It is roughly 20 miles long, measured from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area. Depth is 800 to 1,200 ft.; width is 1,500 to 4,000 ft. The canyon as we know it today is a very recent geologic feature. The present canyon is no more than 10,000 to 14,000 years old, although there has probably been a canyon in this location for a much longer period. The exact sequence of events in the formation of the canyon is not well understood, as there has been little field work done in the area. The few studies that are available are thought to be inaccurate. We do know that the canyon was formed by erosion rather than by glaciation. A more complete explanation can be found in the Geological Overview section. The geologic story of the canyon, its historical significance as a barrier to travel, its significance as destination/attraction, and its appearance in Native American lore and in the accounts of early explorers are all important interpretive points. The “ooh-ahh” factor is also important: its beauty and grandeur, its significance as a feature to be preserved, and the development of the national park idea.
Canyon area tour involves two circuits. The North Rim road and South Rim Road. Both involves some hiking. So allow yourself sufficient amount of time and water to enjoy the diverse features in this area.
Click here to see a map of Canyon Rim Drive and Trails
While you are in the park, educate yourself with all the ranger led tours in the area you plan to visit. It is always a good idea to join a ranger on a guided tour. That way, you learn more about the area you are visiting. We learnt that a ranger led tour of the South rim starts at 3 pm from Uncle Tom’s trail. So we decided to cover the North tim road first and then move down to South rim in the afternoon. Before that we first filled ouself at the cafeteria in the Canyon area. There are lot of choices in the menu to choose.
North Rim Drive: This one way loop road starts at the parking lot of the Canyon area. This loop consists of walks and overlooks that give you a panaromic view of the canyon as well as an upclose view of the uper and lower falls.
Glacier Boulder: Along the road to Inspiration Point there is a house-sized granite boulder sitting in the pine forest alongside the road. It was plucked from the Beartooth Mountains by an early Pinedale Glacier and dropped on the north Glacier Bolder
rim of the Grand  Canyon of the Yellowstone nearly 80,000 years ago. Continued glacial advances and retreats led to the present-day appearance of the canyon and surrounding area.
Inspiration Point: After the North rim drive becomes one way, make the first left turn. Drive to the end of the road and park. More than 50 steps direct you down this moderately strenuous walk to an overlook and spectacular canyon Inspiration Point
views. Rest on the benches and enjoy the views: halfway down and at the base you can glimpse the lower falls of the yellowstone. From the overlook, you can view the canyon upstream and downstream, watch the acrobatic flights of birds, and smell the sulphur from hydrothermal features far below.
Grandview Point: Stop here for a colorful view of the canyon.(Bear left at the fork in the walkway. the right fork is part of the North Rim trail). You can see the river snaking through the rocks as it rushes downstream. Stop to rest on the benches cut from bolders and listen. Grand view
Lookout and Redrock point: Bear left on this paved trail for your first full view of the Lower Falls. As you scan the canyon, look for osprey nests and signs of hot springs (look for wet, rust-coloredrocks or for stream). Also notice the trail below you. lookout pt
Red Rock Trail takes the hardy visitor close enough to feel the spray. To reach this trail from the parking lot, bear right on the paved walkway. The trail drops 500 ft (150 m) in about 3/8 mile. It is not recommended for visitors with heart,lung, or other health conditions. Redrock view
Brink of the Lower Falls: Every second, an average of 37,417 gallons of water plunge 308 ft over the Lower Falls. You can experience this power by taking this trail to the brink. Even if you can’t make the full trip (a drop of 600 ft/180m), consider walking part way down for a glimpse of the brink and the upper falls. Brink of lower falls
Brink of the Upper Falls: To reach this overlook from North Rim Drive, turn left onto the main road, and then left at the sign. Shorter than the lower falls, Upper falls (109 ft/ 33 m) is impressive in its own way. Soon after you begin Brink of falls
the short walk, stop at the rocks on the left and listen to the rush of water. Then proceed down the steps and around the corner. You’ll be rewarded with the sight of the colliding currents rushing pellmell over the brink. Bursts of spray often create rainbows in the afternoon.
South Rim Drive: On the South Rim Drive you can view the Upper Falls from two view points at uncleTom’s parking area, Artist points. As planned we reached the Uncle Tom’s parking area at 3 pm to join the ranger led tour of the South rim trail starting at UncleTom trail’s parking area. I would recommend everyone to take this tour as it passes through the some of the most scenic views of the canyon at the same time is also very educative.
Uncle Tom’s trail: For an unparalleled canyon and waterfalls experience, take a deep breath and descend this trail. A series of paved inclines and more than 300 steps lead you about 500 ft down into canyon. Your destination is a platform form which you see, hear and feel the power of the Uncle Tom’s Trail
Lower Falls. Much of the walk is constructed of perforated steel sheeting, so you should wear comfortable, flat heeled walking shoes. Also watch out for ice in the early morning or in the spring or fall. View from Uncletom trail
Upper Falls View Point: This easy walk takes you to two viewpoints of the Upper Falls, which drops 109 ft over a lip of volcanic rock. Upstram of the waterfall, you can se the old canyon bridge, which today is part of the North Rim Trail. From the left overlook, you can glimpse Crystal Falls on the far side of the Canyon. ViewPoint
South Rim Trail: Begin this trail at the Wapiti trailhead on South Rim Drive near Chittenden bridge. This partially paved trail parallels the Canyon and connects the Wapiti Trailhead with Uncle Tom’s parking Area and Artist Point (1-3/4 miles). You’ll wind in and out of forests between striking viewpoints of both falls and the canyon.
Artist Point: When you reach this set of overlooks, you’ll see why this is obe of the most photographed views in Yellowstone. Framed by the Canyon walls with forests for a backdrop, the Yellowstone river thunders more than 308 ft over Artist point
Lower Falls. From the Upper overllook, you can view the Canyon in both directions. Look for Osprey, bald eagles, ravens and swallows. Artist Point 2
After completion of the South Rim, we decided to drive north towards Tower Roosvelt area. This drive passes through two important viewing points.
Tower Falls: Tower Fall is the most recognizable natural feature in the district. The 132-foot drop of Tower Creek, framed by eroded volcanic pinnacles has been documented by park visitors from the earliest trips of Europeans into the Yellowstone region. Its idyllic setting has inspired Tower Falls
numerous artists, including Thomas Moran. His painting of Tower Fall played a crucial role in the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. The nearby Bannock Ford on the Yellowstone River was an important travel route for early Native Americans as well as for early European visitors and miners up to the late 19th century.
Calcite Springs:  This grouping of thermal springs along the Yellowstone River signals the downstream end of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The geothermally altered rhyolite inspired the artist Moran; his paintings of this Calcite Blocks
scene were among those presented to Congress in 1872, leading to the establishment of the park. The steep, columnar basalt cliffs on the opposite side of the river from the overlook are remnants of an ancient lava flow, providing a window into the past volcanic forces that shaped much of the Yellowstone landscape. The gorge and cliffs provide habitat for numerous wildlife species including bighorn sheep, red-tailed hawks, and osprey.
Finally, exhausted after the day’s hiking and viewing this natural beauty, we returned back to the Canyon area and retired into our Pioneer Cabin thus ending another wonderful day in Yellowstone.
FYI: Pictures you see in this blog are shot by us during our recent vacation. If you are interested in any of these pictures (original 6 mb), please contact us at bestvacation@gmail.com