White Dome Geyser blowing

Driving through Yellowstone National Park, there is no cell phone signal. After all, you're deep in the wilderness. Until you get to the area around Old Faithful, Yellowstone's signature geyser. There, you can get a full five-bar signal, and as the geyser goes off, you can look around and see dozens of people explaining it live to friends via their phones.

That's because for many people, Yellowstone and Old Faithful are one and the same. But in fact, the park, America's first national park, is brimming with other geothermal delights. Whether it's other large geysers, deeply colored hot pools, hot springs, mud pots or steam vents, Yellowstone is a geothermal fan's best bet for being able to see the best of what nature has to offer, all in one place.

Here, the White Dome geyser goes off, as it does at irregular intervals. Many of the park's geysers go off on regular schedules, though Old Faithful--it's called that for a reason--may well be the most reliable.

I visited Yellowstone on Road Trip 2009 to get a look at the park's other geothermal activity. But of course, he had to stop in to see Old Faithful do its thing.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Beautiful pool

On Firehold Lake Drive in Yellowstone National Park, a series of hot springs, hot pools, and geysers are just off the side of a two-mile loop.

It says something about what's visible on that drive that this gorgeous hot pool isn't even listed in the official pamphlet about the drive. But to me, it was the most beautiful of all.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Throwing coins illegal

One of the most impressive hot pools in Yellowstone is called the Morning Glory pool. It is famous for its deep colors and its otherworldly looks. But over the years, the pool has lost much of its color, according to reports--I wasn't able to visit Morning Glory Pool on Road Trip 2009--because of a wide variety of detritus thrown into it by park visitors.

This sign posted next to another beautiful hot pool is a warning--and an explanation--to visitors that they must not think of the pools the way they think of fountains. The junk gets stuck deep in the pools' pipes, clogging them and making it impossible for the pools to function as nature intended them to.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Old Faithful

Despite specifically visiting Yellowstone in search of the national park's other geothermal activity, I couldn't resist stopping by and seeing the world-famous geyser do its thing.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Geyser paparazzi

Hundreds of people gather to watch Old Faithful go off, which is does approximately every 90 minutes.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Silex spring

This is Silex Spring, on Yellowstone National Park's Fountain Paint Pot Trail.

According to the National Park Service, "Hot springs are the most common geothermal feature in Yellowstone. Their underground plumbing consists of unconstricted chambers of varying sizes. Water, which has been superheated far underground, rises along tiny cracks, flows into larger channels and eventually reaches the earth's surface.

"Unlike geysers, water convection is continuous within hot spring pools. Hot surface water sinks while hotter, superheated water continues to rise. This circulation keeps water below the temperature needed to begin the chain reaction leading to an eruption."

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Bacteria mats

Along Yellowstone's Fountain Paint Pot Trail, visitors pass a gorgeous, but disturbing, feature called the Bacteria Mats.

This is actually a large collection of thermophiles--heat-loving microorganisms--that, according to the National Park Service, "usually form the ribbons of color like you see here. The green, brown and orange mats are mostly cyanobacteria, which can live in waters as hot as 167 degrees Fahrenheit."

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

One bubbling, one not

Here, one small geyser is bubbling furiously, while its adjacent neighbor sits quietly, though still at a very high temperature.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Vixen geyser

Vixen geyser is a small one in Yellowstone's Norris Geyser Basin. When I visited, Vixen was totally dry and inactive.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Steamboat Geyser

Seemingly everyone's favorite feature in the Norris Geyser Basin at Yellowstone National Park, Steamboat Geyser issues steady billowing steam and regular jets of hot water.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Veteran Geyser

Veteran Geyser, in Yellowstone's Norris Geyser Basin.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Mud pot bubbling

A mud pot bubbles in the Artists Paint Pots area of Yellowstone National Park.

A mud pot, according to the National Park Service, is a hot spring "containing a relatively small amount of acid water. Acid breaks down the surrounding rock into clay, which mixes into the water. Mud consistency ranges from thick to thin, depending on the amount of water present. Abundant surface water in winter and spring thins the mud, creating a soupier mud pot. During the drier months of summer and autumn, mud pots often become thicker and sometimes dry up altogether."

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Thick mud bubbling over

A mud pot with very thick mud bubbles and boils.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Deep into Crater Spring

A look deep into the plumbing of Crater Spring, in Yellowstone's Norris Geyser Basin.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Fountain Paint Pot

The main attraction in the Fountain Paint Pots area, this mud pot is thick with mud, made of clay minerals and fine particles of silica.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Leather Pool

A look at the placid Leather Pool, on Yellowstone's Fountain Paint Pot Trail. The pool "underwent dramatic changes after the Hebgen Lake Earthquake of 1959," reads a National Park Service brochure. "Prior to the earthquake, it was a warm (143 degrees Fahrenheit) pool that supported leather-like thermophilic brown bacteria. After the earthquake, water temperatures rose to boiling and killed the microorganisms. Since that time, Leather Pool has cooled and again supports the brown bacteria."

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Red Spouter

Another relic of the 1959 Hegben Lake Earthquake, Red Spouter, which was created as a result of the quake, "exhibits the behavior of all four thermal features (mud pot, geyser, hot spring and steam vent)," reads a National Park Service brochure. "In the spring and early summer, its pools splash muddy water that sometimes has a red tone. Later in the summer and fall, when the water table is lower, Red Spouter becomes a hissing fumarole (which produces hissing and steaming from gases--hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and steam). And some people say it has erupted in the past."

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Pearl Geyser

This ghostly geothermal feature is Pearl Geyser, in Yellowstone's Norris Geyser Basin.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Great Fountain Geyser

One of the geothermal attractions along the Firehole Lake Drive, Great Fountain Geyser can produce eruptions--which occur about every 10 to 14 hours and which last at least 45 minutes--measuring 100 feet, and even sometimes, 200 feet.

"Geysers are hot springs that periodically eject boiling water and steam into the air," reads a National Park Service sign. "Most geysers are unpredictable. Some, like Old Faithful, display patterns of activity...A narrow zone, or constriction, and boiling water are necessary for a hot spring to erupt as a geyser. The constriction keeps water within the system from circulating to the surface for cooling. Eruptions occur as a chain reaction: Water, held within the geyser's plumbing, becomes superheated--heated beyond boiling--and rapidly expands in volume as it changes into steam; then steam bubbles force themselves--and the water above--past the constriction and up into the air."

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Green Dragon Spring

Featuring this semi-cave, the Green Dragon Spring, in Yellowstone's Norris Geyser Basin, is one of the most beautiful in the park.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Emerald Spring

Emerald Spring, in Yellowstone's Norris Geyser Basin.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Fire Hold Spring

The namesake of Firehole Lake Drive, Firehold Spring is a beautiful spring that convinced early explorers to think that "the larger bubbles looked like flashes of light--hence the origin of the spring's name," reads a National Park Service brochure.

Click here for the entire Road Trip 2009 package.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

Last-minute gift ideas

Under pressure? These will deliver on time

With plenty of top-notch retailers offering digital gifts, you still have time to salvage your gift-giving reputation.

Hot Products