Beyond the Geysers

October 27, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Play the word association game and toss this one out: Yellowstone. "Old Faithful" or "geysers" will probably be the most common response. And why not? The park's hydrothermal features are weird, wonderful, and more plentiful there than anywhere else on earth (10,000-plus). 

It's a big park, though - nearly 3,500 square miles of it. There's more to Yellowstone than those famous hot springs, geysers, fumaroles and mud pots. 

Exhibit A: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. (Yes, there are steam vents in the canyon walls...but they're not the main player.) Roughly 24-miles long and containing two waterfalls, the canyon can keep me busy for many hours at a time. Much of the rim is hike-able and can be thoroughly explored if you're so inclined. Be prepared for some steep descents.

Even if you just drive the rim and stick with marked vistas you'll be treated to some great sights. If you've been to Artist Point you'll recognize this view of Lower Falls, where the canyon begins:

Just as there's more to the park than the geysers, there's more to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone than establishing shots like this one. 

Giant pinnacles, multi-hued rock, trees clinging to the steep walls...there is no shortage of potential subject matter. All you have to do is look more closely.

Here, the pinnacles create a beautiful sculpted frame for the trees on the other side. 

SculptedSculptedRugged pinnacles frame some of the trees growing among them within the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
At the location below I liked the juxtaposition of jagged pinnacles on one side and the relatively smooth canyon wall to which conifers cling on the other. Wider framing isn't necessary to establish context: this is clearly a steep canyon. On a mostly overcast day, rays of sunlight occasionally broke through and highlighted a small, colorful portion of one wall. The little pop of light is what prompted me to pull out the camera.

Steep DescentSteep DescentGrand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The shapes, textures and color contrast in the canyon are really interesting. I go with a long lens and keep my eyes open. 

Bottom line: whether you're in Yellowstone or a state park near your home, look beyond the obvious. There is no limit to what you might see. It could be uniquely yours, and you could be the only one who captures it.


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