At almost 300 feet wide and about 160 feet deep, the Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin is Yellowstone’s largest hot spring and the third-largest in the world. The spring discharges 160-degree water at a rate of about 550 gallons per minute.
An expired spider lies encased in thermophilic bacteria at Norris Geyser Basin.
Thermal features create steam on a cool morning in Norris Geyser Basin. The milky color of the mineral deposited in this area inspired its name, Porcelain Basin.
A nighttime eruption of Lone Star Geyser in the Lone Star Geyser Basin, about 2.5 miles south of Old Faithful. The geyser awakens about every three hours and can spout water up to forty feet high.
Travertine mineral deposits from water flows on Orange Mound Spring overtake trees in the Upper Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs.
Great Fountain Geyser erupts at sunset in the Firehole Lake area of the Lower Geyser Basin. Great Fountain’s eruptions occur every nine to fifteen hours and can last up to two hours. About an hour and a half before an eruption, water overflows from the geyser’s vent and floods the surrounding basin.


Hot Stuff

Yellowstone’s thermal features are out of this world.


YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK is home to ten thousand thermal features, five hundred of which are geysers. With only approximately one thousand geysers in the entire world, Yellowstone easily has the highest concentration around. The park’s geysers have fascinated visitors, especially artists and photographers, since the first explorers came to this area. The earliest images—etchings—of Yellowstone include many geysers.

Today, most people use cameras, but their goal is the same: to capture these crazy geological wonders for posterity. Dubois-based photographer Jeff Vanuga has been photographing geysers since he moved to the region in 1983. “I’m not a geology guy, but geysers make for beautiful subjects,” he says.

Vanuga also finds that shooting geysers allows him to experience Yellowstone without its usual crowds. “The best times of day to photograph geysers are predawn, evening, or at night,” he says. “If you want a quiet experience and to get the best photographs of geysers, go as early as possible or at night.” Vanuga has spent an entire night at Lone Star Geyser. “I wasn’t sleeping but shooting the whole time,” he says.

To best capture Yellowstone’s geysers, Vanuga has some tips. “You don’t want to be downwind of a geyser when it’s going off and photographing it,” he says. “Then it will just be a blob of white steam.” Vanuga also suggests being perpendicular from the wind and not having light directly behind you. “Anytime you get side light you get more depth and impact,” he says.

A favorite geyser of Vanuga’s to shoot is Castle Geyser, located in the Upper Geyser Basin near Old Faithful. “Even if it’s not erupting, there are steam phases where it looks like it is erupting,” he says. “Some geysers, when they’re not going off, there’s nothing to see, but Castle is always a show.” Castle Geyser is a short stroll on a boardwalk from Old Faithful. To see more of Vanuga’s work, go to jeffvanuga.com.

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