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Welcome to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons! Yellowstone is the world's oldest national park, founded by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1872. The park's 3,472 square miles contain the most extensive area of geyser activity in the world, with more than 10,000 thermal features. Of course, her most famous is the geyser known as "Old Faithful."

Although Old Faithful is neither the largest, highest, or even the most regular geyser in Yellowstone, she's certainly the most famous. The heights, intervals and length of play have changed little in more than 100 years. Old Faithful does not erupt every hour on the hour, but it does erupt 21-23 times a day. The column normally reaches its average maximum height of 130 feet (it's gone as high as 184) in 15-20 seconds. After about 20 more seconds, the column lowers rapidly, ending with a few puffs of steam. On average, 5,000 - 8,000 gallons of water are discharged.

Two of the most exciting and most visited areas of Yellowstone are the Mammoth Hot Springs area and the Norris Geyser Basin. Both are filled with hundreds of geysers, mud volcanoes, hot springs, thermal pools and other features. The one in this photo is a huge hot spring called Minerva. The most powerful geyser in the park is Steamboat. While unpredictable (sometimes not erupting for years at a time), she shoots water 300-350 feet in the air.

This is the hotpot known as "Beryl." Other hotpots (or pools, as they are often called) include the famous "Emerald Pool," "Gem Pool," and "Morning Glory Pool." The deep blue color of most of the pools indicates the water is too hot for algae to grow. The blue color comes from daylight reflecting from the water, which receives all colors of sunlight, but reflects only the blue portion of the color spectrum.

This is Morning Glory Pool. Sadly, one of the most beautiful pools in the park is losing much of its color, because visitors have thrown so much refuse into it that its cone is becoming plugged,the flow of hot water is being reduced and the pool is cooling, allowing yellow algae to grow and turning the original deep pure blue into a bluegreen color. (Visitors are begged, cajoled, implored and warned not to throw coins or other refuse into the pools or geysers!)

At the Yellowstone River's Lower Falls, the water tumbles 308 feet, striking the canyon floor with such force that it sends foam and mist hundreds of feet upward. Lower Falls is twice the height of Niagra Falls. Yellowstone's Upper Falls is smaller, dropping 109 feet...but no less awesome, with dark lava canyon walls and a deep green pool into which the Falls plunge.

South of Yellowstone we enter Grand Teton National Park, established in 1929.
This is one of the most photographed scenes in Wyoming. You've probably seen it before, but it doesn't hurt the eyes to see it again. :-) It is said that the Grand Tetons
were named by a pair of French trappers, who were inspired by their jagged peaks rising abruptly from the valley floor. If you know any French, you can translate the name. If you don't...well, suffice to say these guys were French, after all, and had been without female companionship for a very long time, no doubt! ;-) In 1950 the park was enlarged by the addition of the Jackson Hole National Monument. The entire park is now almost 500 square miles. To clarify something that confuses many, "Jackson" is the name of the resort town..."Jackson Hole" is the name of the valley in which it sits.

So this is Jackson (the town)....

And this is Jackson (the Hole!) ;-)

Jenny Lake is the second largest lake in Grand Teton National Park (the largest is Jackson Lake). Named for the Shoshone wife of an early-day trapper and guide, Jenny Lake sits at an elevation of nearly 6,800 feet, and is 256 feet deep.

More give you an idea of how majestic these mountains are, they soar 7,000 feet ABOVE Jenny Lake!

The Tetons at Sunset...have you ever seen anything more beautiful?
I can't imagine. :-)

Both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are home to an abundance of wildlife and a complex biosystem, in which each form of life plays a role in the existence of the other. Yellowstone alone is home to more than 60 species of mammals, over 200 species of birds and half a dozen fish. The larger mammals of Yellowstone include both grizzly and black bears, elk, moose, bison, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, coyotes, lynx, mountain lions...and now wolves, which were reintroduced to the park in the mid-1990's, and are now one of its most popular species. While wolf sightings are still rare, visitors can often hear their lonesome howling and know that the wolf has reclaimed its rightful home in this wild and beautiful place.

Click on the elk to hear him bugle!

Let's take a closer look at Wyoming's wildlife!