Visit the ember of Wyoming and the third largest hot spring in the world.
In the heart of Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park, a barren-looking landscape surrounds one of the most gorgeous sights ever to be seen with one’s own eyes. The vibrant Grand Prismatic Spring pierces the landscape with a rich blue color in its heart, and green and yellow hugging its heart in an iris-like appearance. The edges of the Grand Prismatic Spring are a variety of incredible hues of orange and red, which appear as if they are desperately reaching for an escape. From the sky, it almost appears as if a portal to the soul of the very essence of nature.
There is more than meets the eye when it comes to this breathtaking natural wonder. The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States of America, and the third largest in the world. It discharges 560 gallons (2,100 L) per minute, is 160 feet (50 m), or 10 stories deep, and is larger than an American football field at a massive 370 feet (112.8 m) in diameter. For reference, an American football field is 360 feet in length, and 160 feet in width.
The geysers of Yellowstone are perhaps more famous, but the hot springs are just as fascinating. These springs form when already-heated water emerges through cracks in the Earth’s surface. Whereas a geyser would have an obstruction near the surface, causing them to burst into eruption, the hot springs flow nonstop. This creates a cycle of hot water which rises, cools, and falls. The water boils up from underground and is so piping hot that it is truly sterile; this hot environment is perfect for the stunning display of colors which appear. The colors are thriving pigmented bacteria and microbes, which change with the weather and with the level of heat. The further away from the center, the cooler the water; as the water cools the environments completely change, offering life to varying bacterial inhabitants.
According to the Yellowstone Park, the heat of these springs has led to major medical and scientific advances, most notably the sequencing of the entire human genome. For those more interested in beer than human genome sequencing, a unique bacterium first discovered in Yellowstone is now helping brewers in quickly testing for contamination.
Though it may seem like common sense, it is important to note that no one should ever attempt to swim in or even touch the waters of the Grand Prismatic Spring or any other hot spring. The Grand Prismatic Springs` temperature is extremely acidic and so high in temperature, that at 160 °F (70 °C) and reaching as high as 205 °F (96.1 °C), it is hot enough to cause death to anyone who falls in. Fear not, there are boardwalks which provide travelers a safe path from which to view the Grand Prismatic Spring, and many areas have guard rails. Like anywhere else we go, if we respect mother nature we can receive the most incredible joy in safely interacting with her and her inhabitants!