The Midway Geyser Basin is a showcase of Mother Nature's weirdest oddities and this section of Yellowstone definitely is a must to experience while there. The Midway Geyser Basin is located just north of Old Faithful on the central touring road, so it is easy to find. This volcanic area can be overcrowded during the peak summer tourist season, but as the cold temperatures of autumn roll in, the big crowds do thin out. On the other hand, even when the Midway Geyser Basin has a high number of visitors, it can be difficult to notice the overcrowding, because the thick clouds of steam have a way of hiding anything that is farther away than arm's length.
The autumn season is the best time of year to experience the steamy special effects of Yellowstone National Park. The cold air enhances condensation, so the steam rising from the hot springs and geysers is easier to see. In fact, when walking by a geyser hot spring on a chilly day, the experience is like taking a warm comfortable steam bath, which creates a unique sensation!
Just like with most of the roadside attractions at Yellowstone National Park, the Midway Geyser Basin has a lengthy boardwalk path that meanders through the thermal field, so visitors who have mobility challenges can easily do the tour. The Midway Geyser Basin Boardwalk has many good viewpoints that overlook the most popular geyser crater hot springs in this area, which include the Grand Prismatic Spring, the Turquoise Pool and the Excelsior Geyser Crater.
The Midway Geyser Basin is a unique geolothermal area that lies within a vast ancient super volcano caldera. For the most part, visitors will not see geysers blasting hot water hundreds of feet into the air in the Midway Geyser Basin, because so much calcification has taken place in this area. There has been so much mineralized calcium deposited above ground over eons of time, that the ground surface acts as a thick hard solid rock cap. The natural hot spring geysers become clogged from the hardened deposits and then the pressure of the water boiling underground really builds up, just like a pressure cooker that has no safety valve. When the pressure in a sealed geyser becomes too great, it will explode with enough force to create a large hot springs pool. Such was the case with the Excelsior Geyser in the Midway Geyser Basin. Now all that remains of the Excelsior Geyser is a wide crater filled with steaming hot blue water. Excelsior truly is a marvelous sight to see, because the thick steam rising from this blue hot spring pool creates a dreamscape visual effect!
The downside of touring a place like the Midway Geyser Basin on a chilly day is that there will be so much steam rising from the ground, that it will nearly be impossible to see the colorful hot springs pools. I actually had to wait quite a while for the steam to clear, just so I could get a fairly unobstructed view of Excelsior. The steam was even thicker at the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is much wider than Excelsior. The Grand Prismatic Spring exhibits a rainbow of natural mineral colors and turquoise blue water, which is quite a sight to see. Because of the thick clouds of steam during my chilly day visit, I honestly could not see the Grand Prismatic Spring at all! For this reason, it may be best to visit the Midway Geyser Basin on a warm summer day, when the steam is not quite as condensed!
As always, a visitor must read the information placards when visiting any of the volcanic thermal areas at Yellowstone National Park, because the signs do provide insightful information and they deliver pertinent warnings. The earth crust is very thin in some areas of the Midway Geyser Basin, so walking on the bare ground is absolutely taboo. It is easy for the ground to break loose when tread upon, which will result in falling into boiling hot water underground. Thinking about taking a dip in one of the hot spring pools is not a good idea either, because the water temperatures hover around 200ºF, which is hot enough to poach an egg. Many foolish visitors have perished in Yellowstone because the hot water pools are so alluring, so it is best to just stick with walking on the boardwalk paths, instead of committing what could be a final daring act.
The fall season is a great time of year to experience the full effect of the steamy Yellowstone National Park environment, but there are some places in this park where there will be too much steam to see much of anything at all. The Midway Geyser Basin is a much better experience on a warm summer day than a chilly day, unless you like the thought of blindly wandering around in billowing clouds of warm comfortable steam! Nowhere else on earth can a tourist bask in bright sunlight and then take two steps into dense steam cloud to become totally lost in a warm comfortable sensation. This is what makes the Midway Geyser Basin such a great place to experience!
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