After Hayden Valley we headed to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The Canyon is 20 miles long and on average 1000 feet deep. The canyon was created by the Yellowstone River in a fault which appeared about 600,000 years ago due to volcanic activity. The Yellowstone River continuously eroded rhyolite softened by hydrothermal activity in the canyon. The Lower Falls and the Upper Falls were created on the places where the hard lava rock had not been eroded by the Yellowstone River.
We only saw the Lower Falls because the road was closed beyond that point. From Artist Point, the only observation point open at the time, we watched the mighty streams of water falling down 308 feet. A massive stream of water plunged with an uproar muffled by the wind and distance. The spray of bouncing water created a white misty cloud at the bottom of the waterfalls. The Yellowstone River, squeezed between the steep walls of the canyon and enraged with whitewater breakers, rushed its meandering course to the north. The magnificent wild beauty of the waterfalls inspires admiration. The rough untamed grandeur of this masterpiece was created by the greatest artist ever, Nature.
Invigorated by the scenic views of Lower Waterfalls, we decided to call it a day and drove back to our place in West Yellowstone. There were a few buffalo in Hayden Valley. The road followed the gentle curves of the slow flowing Yellowstone River and we saw more buffalo. We captured on camera one bison which looked like he was going to attack. His head was lowered with horns ready to pierce the target. Yet another bison looked cute and peaceful watching cars passing by.
We could not resist stopping at Mud Volcano. This area has an active ground deformation. The land moves slightly up and down due to the fluctuation of the magma chamber underground. This area is monitored very closely by scientists who are watching for volcanic activity in Yellowstone.
Mud Volcano is a pool of a boiling mud. According to descriptions of the first explorers in the 19th century, its eruption covered all the trees close by with mud.
Next to Mud Volcano there is Dragon’s Mouth Spring. The hot spring is located in a cave and hot white steam comes out of that cave continuously. In addition to steam, water surges out of the cave with a rumbling sound. The Crow Indians thought that the steam coming out of the cave is the snorting of an angry buffalo. The Kiowa tribe considered a hot spring to be a sacred place. According to their legend, the Creator gave them the Yellowstone area as a home.
On our way back, we saw Yellowstone Lake framed by fir trees and snowy mountains and we also saw more buffalo on the meadows of the Madison River. The water in the river was glistening with the sunset’s soft golden hue. Long shadows of fir trees were cast on the steep slopes of the mountains. We came back to our temporary home in a little cabin in West Yellowstone.