On our final day in Yellowstone, Ron wanted to drive the whole lower loop. I pointed out that it's a looong way around (96 miles, plus the 14 miles from West Yellowstone), but he asks for so little. Diana did her own thing while we made the trip.
We were able to hit a couple of spots that were too busy the day before, like Artists Paintpots. The park really needs to expand the parking lot at this location. It would be okay if it was just a viewpoint, but there's a mile-long roundtrip walk out to the paintpots.
All the percolating mud pots were interesting, but not much of a picture.
Next we were able to get into Norris Geyser Basin, which it seems they close at intervals when the cars get too backed up. Honestly, if they're not going to make the parking lots big enough for the hoards of visitors, then they should have a bus system like many of the other parks. I'm all for the propane buses, myself.
Norris Basin has two boardwalk loops, Porcelain Basin and Back Basin. We first took the Back Basin trail as far as Steamboat Geyser, the world's tallest active geyser. Steamboat has infrequent eruptions of more than 300 feet, twice as high as Old Faithful. Of course, it's not at all faithful with its last major eruption in September of 2014. We decided not to wait around. It did sputter a bit for us.
We passed Emerald Spring which was a disappointing non-emerald color.
The ranger we met told us that it's an example of how the area is always changing. It seems this color change happened just recently.
Another method of change in the park is fire. It's easy to spot when all the trees are the same petite size with a few surviving tall trunks.
We switched to the Back Basin and completed that loop. Guardian Steam Vent also recently changed - this one from a geyser to a steam vent. And what a vent it is! It really sounds like a steam engine.
I tried to capture it in a movie, but the sound just wasn't there. Although you can at least see the massive amount of steam that pours out of the vent.
Crackling Lake looked very peaceful, but don't let that fool you.
The day before, a man had left the boardwalk and fallen into a boiling hot spring right there in Norris Basin. After attempting to recover the body, the next day park rangers announced there were no remains left to recover. What a horrible way to go!
I'll end here with this little guy who was giving everybody the business from atop the doorway to the visitors center.