Artist Paint Pots Geothermal Basin with Mount Holmes in the distance, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
It’s a short walk along a well-trod path to get to the boardwalk beginning the loop around the Artist Paint Pots basin. As I stepped onto the boardwalk, I passed a couple of men talking to each other. Another friend approached and they told him that their wives were off looking at the sights while they remained there, since they were not that enthused about the area. Lo and behold, as I passed the men, their wives returned and one of them said sarcastically “Well, that was a blast.” They were not impressed, either.
I don’t know what those two couples were expecting, but I have a feeling they have not been reading my photo column in the National Parks Traveler, where I urge people to 1) keep their expectations on the low side since it’s likely they will not see exactly what they expect to see, and 2) observe what is around them. Really *look* at where they are and what they see. I am assuming that the couples, like many other people who come to this area, were a little jaded and didn’t stop to think about what they were standing upon: thin crust with a busy geothermal system beneath them. It’s amazing that we can enter a national park that is so geologically active. How many other places in the world can you see so many active geysers, hot springs and fumeroles all in one area? How many other places can you actually hear the hissing of the steam and see the bubbling water and mud pots? I know there are some, but I’ll wager not that many that you can actually get to. When you are someplace like Artist Paint Pots, you are walking beside geysers and hot springs with boiling or near-boiling water.
These couples probably did not appreciate the many colorful hot springs around them (hence the name “Artist Paint Pots”), or the panoramic view that included a snow-iced Mount Holmes in the far distance.
I brought with me the mindset of a geologist and photographer, so I saw beauty everywhere I walked in that small basin. As a matter of fact, that’s what I told a retired gentleman and his wife as he approached the trailhead, with a daughter and active 6-year old in tow. He stopped me and said: “Two questions: how far to get there and is it worth it?” I told him I thought it was worth it but I was seeing everything through a geologic and photographic background. I then told him about the reactions of those two couples. I told him that I’d also seen another couple with their 4-year old child who was managing the walk and the uphill climb to the bridge overlook (which is where I stood to take this photo) with no problems. I said to him that they’d have to judge for themselves as to whether or not the hike and the view were worth it. I certainly thought both were.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.