Yellowstone’s Winter Colors
When you conjure up winter, white is predominant the color that flashes to mind. It takes only a short microsecond traveling through Yellowstone in winter to come to know that white has a run for its money when it comes to color. The one color you see a lot of is gray, as in, gray skies. That color too might make you think that there isn’t much color in Yellowstone in winter. Traveling about even under gray skies you find colors of nearly every shade around every corner of Yellowstone. Heck, its name tells you that even its rocks have color, yellow! When Old Faithful erupts into those gray skies, even the steam stands out from that gray. The colors can be that subtle yet powerful visually.
Going from the size and grandeur of Old Faithful to the edge of a small pool in the Mudpots, the colors are unearthly. The yellow of the algae (or is that yellow stone?) against that amazing blue of the hot, deep pool, who comes up with this stuff?
They thought Bridger was making things up when he talked about mud bubbling like boiling water. He didn’t mention the red hues outlined in white with the pockets of turquoise blue. Then you have this layer of steam wisping around hiding parts and sharing others. And with the crisp air of winter, all very much alive changing every second.
Then there is that yellow stone … again …
The algae mat that lives Grand Prismatic Spring does just that, lives and thrives! In water temps that would cook an egg in less than a minute, the algae bloom constantly changing the colors of the springs. The smallest kiss of light brings out an assortment of colors that change as your turn about. When the wind is calm and the temps are cold, steam creates a backdrop taking your imagination back to a primeval time.
With winter white comes winter cold, so cold the might of lower Yellowstone Falls freezes in part. The freshwater turns a shade of blue that gives you shivers looking at it, not having to even know the air temp to feel cold.
And amongst the hot pools at Norris Geyser Basin is Porcelain where the earth really cooks! The white soil and lining of the pools make the blue minerals dissolved in the steamy waters display their spectacular colors. As the steam dances about in the breeze, the landscape constantly changes so fast even the camera’s motordrive can’t keep pace.
Next time you think about the color of winter, especially in Yellowstone, white might now be on the bottom of the list. That’s because there is a lot more to Yellowstone’s winter color.