|Old Faithful about to blow sky high. My photo.|
There really isn't an option of talking about Wyoming without talking about Yellowstone and Old Faithful, especially because most people think Yellowstone is in Montana. Yeah, like 5 minutes of it (it's a sore spot for Wyomingites).
Members of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition spotted Old Faithful on September 18, 1870 (of course, Native Americans in the area had long been aware of Old Faithful).
Nathaniel P. Langford wrote an account of the expedition:
|"It spouted at regular intervals nine times during our stay, the columns of boiling water being thrown from ninety to one hundred and twenty-five feet at each discharge, which lasted from fifteen to twenty minutes. We gave it the name of 'Old Faithful.'"|
In another part of Langford's diary, he described the complete lack of understanding by white folks of the delicate ecosystem of geysers. Old Faithful was sometimes used as a laundry in the early days:
Faithful is sometimes degraded by being made a laundry. Garments placed
in the crater during quiescence are ejected thoroughly washed when the
eruption takes place."|
Oh, boy. When Americans like something, we like it to death.
By the way, geysers are a spring characterized by intermittent discharge of water ejected turbulently and accompanied by steam. As a fairly rare phenomenon, the formation of geysers is due to particular hydrogeological conditions that exist only in a few places on Earth, and Yellowstone is unique even within that small group.
There's something about watching it erupt that makes you want to squeal out loud. I've never been able to take a good video, myself, as I'm always too much in awe when it goes. The video on Old Faithful's Wikipedia page is actually one of the best I've ever seen: Old Faithful erupting.
If you want to see it live, the National Park Service live streams it here: Old Faithful Live Stream.
After the 1959 earthquake in the region, Old Faithful has decreased in both how high it gets and how often it erupts (about one less eruption a day). The decrease has been linked to a change in how Old Faithful is connected to the thermal vents underneath the surface. Take a look at my post on Hot Spots for more info.
We try to go up at least once a year. The trip is a nice one, though if you're pulling a trailer make sure you have the right braking system, as the road leading up to the park is pretty windy, especially if you're coming from the south. Make sure you call ahead and find out about road closures, as they regularly have to close roads to the the constantly changing nature of the park. One year part of the road leading out the park actually melted as a heat vent made its way to the surface. Yes, you read that right. The asphalt MELTED. Wish I had gotten a picture.
Oh, and if you are planning a trip, make sure you plan far ahead for accomodations. If you want to stay in any of the lodges in the park, I suggest booking a year out. If you want to camp at any of the Yellowstone camping sites, then at least 3 months, or longer if you're going in June, July, or August.
Personally, I love September in Yellowstone. It's not usually too cold to camp yet, and a good deal of the tourists are gone, but the restaurants are still open. Make sure you hit Paint Pot, though. It's probably my favorite place in the park. But don't tell Old Faithful.