The Norris Geyser Basin is a vast volcanic geothermal area that is located along Highway 89 in the northwest end of Yellowstone National Park. There are two hiking trail systems to choose from that meander through this amazing landscape and many famous geysers can be viewed along the boardwalk pathway. A museum is located next to the main parking area and this is where a wealth of information can be found concerning the history and geology associated with this field. Patience will be required when seeking a parking spot, because this is a very popular place to be during the summer season. In fact, if a visitor does not arrive early in the day, roadside parking on Highway 89 will likely be the only option, which increases the walking distance. Disability parking is available and because the boardwalk goes over flat terrain, nearly anybody can experience the majestic views in this end of the park!
Just for safety's sake, it is always good to mention the importance of staying on the boardwalk when walking through a geyser field. The earth crust is very thin and boiling hot spring water lies beneath the surface, so carelessly walking on the bare ground will amount to going on a suicide mission. Keeping children within reach is good to do, if they do not understand the dangerous parameters. A few unwise tourists actually perish each year from doing daring acts at Yellowstone, so the danger is indeed real.
As mentioned earlier, there are two trails that go to the Porcelain Basin and the Back Basin. The Back Basin Loop Trail is about a one and three quarter mile long trek and the journey is comfortable to do because there are so many places worth stopping to take in the amazing views. Much more time than normal will be required for experiencing this geyser area, so it is best to pack some extra water for the hike. There are park benches located next to the most famous points of interest, so taking a break to absorb the surroundings is easy to do and there certainly will be plenty of natural eye candy to gawk over! There is literally one unique geothermal oddity after another in this area, so be prepared to experience some sensory overload along the way!
Boiling mud pits, azure blue hot spring pools, flowing hot water streams and a wide variety of geysers are what awaits along the boardwalk. Steam rises from the ground everywhere in this end of the Yellowstone Caldera, which greatly enhances the visual effect. The powerful Steamboat Geyser is located in this strange place, which is always well worth waiting to see, even if an eruption does not occur anytime soon. Lush green pine forests surround the Back Basin and seeing how these trees struggle to survive in the harsh geyser field certainly adds a dramatic touch. The noise of hissing steam and explosive geyser eruptions fills the air, so the Back Basin Trail truly is a fulfilling sight and sound experience!
Doing the complete Norris Geyser Basin foot trail tour will require a few hours and any extra time spent is guaranteed to be well worth it! Even if the ever so famous Steamboat Geyser remains dormant during the visit, there will still be endless displays of natural geothermal oddities that can be seen nowhere else to be captivated by. The Back Basin Trail certainly is a Yellowstone boardwalk venture that will be fondly remembered for years to come, so be sure to bring a good camera to share the photos back home!
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