Norris Geyser Basin is Yellowstone’s hottest most volatile geyser basin. For that it is one of the most popular in the park. It is home to Steamboat Geyser the world’s tallest geyser. Dozens of thermal features that are constantly changing due to the fact it is one of the most earthquake prone areas in the park. The Norris Geyser Basin sits on the intersection of three fault lines. Like a box of chocolates, a visitor never knows what they are going to get.
Personally I thought the Norris Geyser Basin was the least impressive of the geothermal areas that I have visited. Of course, that is like saying a ruby is my least favorite gemstone because they are all precious in their own way. While parts of it are colorful the colors seem to me to be more painted in a matte. Just not as vibrant as some of the other parts of the park. Couple that with the acidic nature of the Norris Geyser Basin it just felt like it was more of a moonscape atmosphere. While it is undeniably different from the other geyser basins of Yellowstone, this was a contrast that left me wanting.
The Norris Geyser Basin is divided up into two distinct areas. The Back Basin and the Porcelain Basin. If short on time I highly recommend just sticking to the Porcelain Basin, it is shorter and more colorful. However, the Back Basin does have its merit including the Steamboat Geyser. Unfortunately, there is no predicting when Steamboat will have a major eruption and shoot hundreds of feet into the area. Luckily it does have frequent small eruptions to help pass the time as you wait years for the next big one.
The Back Basin Geyser is roughly a mile and half boardwalk and dirt trail. It is a moderately strenuous hike. As the trail heads down from the parking lot via either stairs or boardwalk declines. Its geothermal features are much more scattered out through a forested area. The return hike back to the parking is up a dirt incline through a forest area. Surprisingly there was a lot more wildlife in the area than I thought there would be. Buffalo and elk frequent the area but we also saw rabbits and a variety of birds.
The Porcelain Basin was our favorite part of the Norris Geyser Basin. This is a shorter dirt and boardwalk trail that is a little under a mile in distance. After a short series of steps to the basin area the trail is completely flat until the walk out. The view from the Porcelain Terrace Overlook on to the open terrain below was quite nice.
Like all popular areas in Yellowstone National Park there could be difficulty finding parking and walking with a large crowd as you take in the parks features. If you want to skip the crowd go early. We have been at some of the most popular areas of the park and had to it basically to ourselves just by setting the alarm on our vacation.
Remember that you are in wild country and it can be dangerous if you do not use common sense and sound judgment. Not only are the animals wild but so is the land and getting too close to either can make a great vacation go sour and even get deadly extremely quick. Animals will protect themselves, their area, and young while the geothermal areas are fragile and dangerous so stay on assigned paths. If you use caution and are prepared Yellowstone will be a great life affirming experience and please leave it just as you found it so the next person can enjoy. Happy Travels!!!
- Geothermal Areas of Yellowstone National Park like Norris Geyser Basin
There are many geothermal areas of Yellowstone National Park and all have unique and wonderful features. Midway Geyser Basin, Mammoth Terraces, Biscuit Basin, West Thumb Geyser Basin, Black Sand Basin, and Artists Paint Pots. Whatever your plans are when you visit Yellowstone National Park make sure you seek out some of the geothermal areas the park is famous for.
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