Tag Archives: trivia

It’s Trivia Tuesday 3-29-2022!

Old Faithful erupting at Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park
Heart Spring in the foreground and the Lion Group of geysers in the background at Upper Geyser Basin
The scalloped edges of Doublet Pool at Upper Geyser Basin
A bright bacterial mat leading toward a hot spring at Biscuit Basin.
Geyser Beads

It’s #TriviaTuesday Folks! So, how many of you have ever visited one of the geyser basins in Yellowstone National Park, marveling at the colorful hot springs and the energetic geysers? Do you know how to tell if what you are looking at is a geyser or hot spring (if there is no sign to identify it)? Especially if a geyser, when not erupting, looks like a hot spring?

According to a cool little video on the NPS site for Yellowstone, you should look at the edges of a thermal feature. “Hot springs often have ledges or walls of sinter (silica deposits) around them, because as the water level fluctuates, it leaves behind silica deposits. The edges may even be scalloped or lacy, such as what you see when looking at Doublet Pool in Upper Geyser Basin.

“Beadwork,” or pebbly-looking sinter indicates a geyser. “As the water splashes with each eruption, it deposits silica, creating a bumpy appearance.” At some geysers that look like hot springs, you’ll notice rounded, riverstone-like pebbles beneath the water. These rounded stones are called “geyser eggs” and are formed by silica deposition and water movement.

Colorful orange and yellow bacterial mats are also good indicators of hot springs, since that means the water is warm enough for thermophilic (heat-loving) bacteria to thrive, but not hot enough to be a geyser.

The thing is, the landscape beneath and above Yellowstone is always changing. Excelsior Crater Geyser used to be a geyser, and is now a hot spring – well, it’s a hot spring right now that hasn’t erupted in several decades, but it could become a geyser again if the conditions change.

And now, you are that much smarter for the day. 🙂

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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National Parks Traveler Quiz And Trivia #47: Happy Birthday Yellowstone National Park

A winter view of a portion of Excelsior Geyser Crater at Midway Basin in Yellowstone National Park

Here’s a winter view of a portion of Excelsior Geyser Crater at Midway Basin in Yellowstone National Park. I couldn’t get the entire view through the particular lens I had on the camera that morning, and it would have been difficult to see anyway because of all the steam issuing from this geyser crater.

I posted this image because there is a question about Excelsior Geyser Crater on today’s quiz and trivia piece that I wrote for the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about Yellowstone National Park because March marks the 150th birthday for this world’s first national park.

How much do you really know about Yellowstone National Park? To take the quiz and read the trivia, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Yellowstone At 150: Challenges Go More Than Crowd-Deep

Sunlight reflections and paw and hoof prints on the shallow terraces at Midway Basin

Today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has a great Feature Story about the challenges and stresses facing Yellowstone National Park. No, I didn’t write it – it was penned by Traveler correspondent Rita Beamish. She’s a fantastic journalist and you should go on over and read the article. Just click on the image above to go to the article.

As for this image: I had joined five others for a snowcoach tour during my February stay in this national park. One of the places we stopped was Midway Basin, and we had the entire spot to ourselves and our driver/tour leader April was fantastic at teaching us about the various parts of the area as well as of the park, as a whole.

Here’s the thing about a visit to Midway Basin, no matter what time of year. You’re not going to see the overall stunning beauty of Grand Prismatic Spring like you do from the overlook on the hillside behind the spring (accessed by the Fairy Falls Trail, with a detour up to the overlook). What you *will* see are the various parts of the spring, as well as the other geothermal features in this particular geyser basin, each part of which has its own beauty.

The morning produced a sort of “watery” sunlight, trying to break through the cloud cover. It did so, in places, and one could see its reflection in the mirror-smooth water of the shallow terraces. One could also see the distinct little paw prints (can you spot them?) and the much larger hoof prints (thankfully, no boot prints here, that I could discern) on those shallow terraces. In the background was the steaming proof all around us of the underground geothermal machinery within the park.

Here’s a little bit of trivia for you: all the white stuff you see in the terraces and in the paw and hoof prints is *not* snow or ice. The water is too warm for that. What you are looking at is silica precipitated out of solution. Yellowstone’s geothermal waters are full of silica in solution, but once that water reaches the surface and flows away from the heat source toward the cooler portions of wherever it lands, that silica precipitates out. It tends to create milky appearances on the ground and within “cooler” hot springs, making them look sort of opal-ish.

Anyway, there is this beauty to Midway Basin that both has something to do with Grand Prismatic, and at the same time, does not. If you ever visit and can find a parking spot, it’s a worthwhile stop, even if you don’t see that areal view of color that you’d see in textbooks or at the Grand Prismatic Overlook.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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National Parks Quiz And Trivia #45

Surrounded by gold in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

True or false: you can tell a bison’s mood by looking at its tail. That’s one of the questions in my latest National Parks Quiz and Trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. And no, I’m not going to tell you the answer. You’ll have to click on the link and take the quiz yourself (ok, ok, answers are at the bottom of the quiz, but really, see how much you know about the units in the National Park System before peeking at the answers).

To take the quiz and read the trivia, click on the image above.

As for this image, it was captured during my autumn 2019 visit to this national park. I was driving along the park road heading toward the turnoff to West Yellowstone and I saw this lone bison standing in a field of golden grass. I pulled off onto a wide shoulder to get the photo before continuing on to my destination of Fountain Flat Drive (where I ultimately dropped camera and lens and broke the teleconverter but thankfully, not the camera or lens 🙄).

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Fun Fact Friday August 20, 2021

Cooling down on a hot day in Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)
Just a pair of ravens chilling out on a snowy winter day in Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

It’s #FunFactFriday ! I have always liked ravens. I like crows too, but ravens more. So, here’s a few interesting facts about ravens. These birds are super smart and very curious. They are also quite acrobatic when flying, turning somersaults mid-air. They’ve got a vocabulary of about 30 calls (including flight calls, hunger calls, and danger calls) in addition to non-vocal communication (like snapping their beaks). Once mated, it’s for life, and they usually nest in the same location year after year.

You can tell the difference between ravens and crows in that (among other things), ravens are larger, have uneven tail feathers (which you can see when they fan them out) and have curvier beaks. Ravens usually travel in pairs while crows travel in larger groups (called “murders” as in a murder of crows).

When I stayed for a couple of days at the North Cascades Institute back in 2019, they talked about a pair of ravens they’d named Bonnie and Clyde. These ravens could unzip backpacks in their efforts to get at hikers’ food. I believe I actually met this pair one day while photographing at the Diablo Lake Overlook. They had landed on the fence railing and were eyeing my camera pack, then hopped down next to the pack. I had a feeling they were trying to figure out where the zippers were, so I had to shoo them away.

The one raven with its mouth open in the top photo is doing something you’ll see other birds doing: it’s called gular (goo-lur) fluttering and they do it to cool down on a hot day since they cannot sweat like humans do.

Oh, and while I am on the subject of fun facts, my latest quiz and trivia piece has been published in the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about “August notables.” To read the article, click on either of the images above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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It’s Trivia Tuesday, August 10, 2021

A keyhole kiva at Coyote Village, within the Far View Complex of ruins at Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

It’s Trivia Tuesday ! Did you know that the Ancestral Pueblo people were living in ruins in what is now Mesa Verde National Park for some 300 years prior to building the famous cliff dwellings? The Far View Complex was the most densely populated area within what is now the park, from A.D. 900 to A.D. 1300. The Far View Complex included almost 50 villages, including Coyote Village, where this photo of a keyhole kiva was taken. Kivas, fyi, were specialized rooms (round, rectangular, or keyhole) where special rites and other meetings were held.

And now you know!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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It’s Trivia Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A View Of Goat Mountain, Big Bend National Park (Texas)
Wandering A Trail Amongst The Redwood Trees, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (California)
A Wide-Angle View Of Bryce Amphitheater Seen From Lower Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)
Soft Winter Morning Sunlight Over The Watchman And Virgin River, Zion National Park (Utah)

It’s #TriviaTuesday ! So, what do Big Bend, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park all have in common? They are all a part of the National Park System (no duh, right?). And the National Park System is overseen by the National Park Service. And who helped persuade Congress to create the National Park Service? One Stephen Tyng Mather, born July 4. So, in addition to celebrating Independence Day on July 4, we should also have lit a birthday candle to this man who “laid the foundation of the National Park Service, defining and establishing the policies under which its areas shall be developed and conserved, unimpaired for future generations. There will never come an end to the good he has done …”

And, speaking of Stephen Mather, today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has published my latest quiz and trivia piece. It’s all about July notables, including Stephen Mather.

To test your national parks knowledge and maybe learn a little something, too, just click on any of the images above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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National Parks Quiz And Trivia: April Notables

An overview of Fountain Paint Pots in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

So, what do John Muir, Ulysses S. Grant, Voyageurs National Park, and Isle Royale National Park all have in common? They are all April notables. The two parks were established in April, Ulysses S. Grant (born in April) signed legislation establishing Yellowstone as the first U.S. national park (hence the image below), and, also born in April, John Muir’s writings convinced the U.S. government to protect Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, and Mount Rainier as national parks.

The latest quiz and trivia piece penned by yours truly and published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler is all about these April notables. To test your knowledge about these notables and maybe learn a little something, too, click on the image above.

And, speaking of this image, I was pretty tickled that I finally got to visit this part of Yellowstone, back in autumn of 2019. When I’d tried to see this (and other sights) during my 2018 summer move from TX to WA, I couldn’t because all the parking spaces were filled, and – to be honest – I was starting to tire out from my road trip, as it was going on 3 weeks now that I’d been on the road. Autumn is a good time to visit Yellowstone, with the caveat that it might snow on you and roads might get closed because of the weather. There are still crowds there, but nothing on the scale (not yet, anyway) that there are during the height of summer.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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April Showers Bring May Flowers Part II

Here’s another spring (and summer and maybe even fall) flower you’ll see in quite a few national parks: Indian paintbrush (aka scarlet paintbrush, magenta paintbrush, pumice paintbrush, etc. etc.). Here’s an interesting little fact that you would have picked up if you’d read my National Parks Quiz and Trivia Piece #28: the paintbrush flower is quite opportunistic, digging its roots into neighboring plants to steal their nutrients. This plant, therefore, is hemiparasitic – it has chlorophyll, so it doesn’t get all of its nutrition from other plants.

The next time you are out in a park, or even when you look alongside the road and you spy a paintbrush flower, look around to see if there are other flowers nearby. You’ll usually (not always, but usually) see Indian, scarlet, magenta, or pumice paintbrush quite close to other flowers and plants.

Oh, and if you are interested in looking at that wildflower quiz, then click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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National Parks Quiz And Trivia #26 – Superlatives

A Lakeside View, Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

Crater Lake National Park is one of the parks mentioned in my latest National Parks Quiz And Trivia piece, published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Jumpstart your Monday with a test to see how much you know about the national parks – you might even learn something you didn’t know!

To look at the quiz and trivia piece, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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