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The Many Colors of Yellowstone

June 21, 2016

Following in the footsteps of Thomas Moran, a painter who helped to encourage Congress to establish Yellowstone as a National Park through his beautiful artistic documentation of the landscape, we spent the day observing the many colors of Yellowstone.

Yellow: our morning started at 4:30 am with a drive through Lamar Valley when we decided to take a moment to observe the beauty of the nearly full Moon. The bright yellow Moon hung in the sky, reflecting in the river, as the coyotes howled in the distance.

Moonrise in Lamar Valley

Moonrise in Lamar Valley

Orange: as the Moon was setting, the Sun was rising setting the sky ablaze with oranges and pink. We watched as the sunrise unfolded before us, changing every minute and taking our breath away.

Sunrise over Soda Butte Creek

Sunrise over Soda Butte Creek

Red: we soon hiked up to Trout Lake and observed the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. Their name comes from the brilliant red marking on their throat. We observed as the trout spawned in the creek at Trout Lake.

Cutthroat trout spawning at Trout Lake

Cutthroat trout spawning at Trout Lake

Purple: continuing on to the Mt. Washburn overlook, Melissa treated us with an activity and lesson on the geology of the park. The short hike was dotted with many wildflowers and our curiosity led us to a purple flower. Through observations we determined the deep violet, bell shaped flower was a leather bowl wildflower.

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Leather bowl wildflower

Brown: our journey then took us to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Megan led us through a watercolor tutorial to aid us in capturing the majestic beauty of the canyon. Shades of brown were prominent in the rocks carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, and with Megan’s help we created our own paintings of the canyon.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

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Green: leaving the canyon we entered into the heart of Hayden Valley. The vibrant green grasses and sagebrush enveloped three bull elks whose antlers were in velvet. We learned the elks’ antlers can grow at a rate of 2 inches a day. The elks’ gorgeous brown coat stood out against the vivid green landscape.

Bull elk in Hayden Valley

Bull elk in Hayden Valley

Blue: venturing further into the valley, we stopped along the Yellowstone River to observe the many species of birds and waterfowl. Clear, deep blue waters helped us to spot ducks such as scaup, mallards, cinnamon teals, and green-winged teals. A highlight from this location was spotting a bald eagle soaring through the clear blue sky.

We didn't get any good pictures of the ducks, but here's something else we saw instead! There was a huge emergence of salmon flies. It was quite a spectacle - though a little overwhelming as they started to land all over us!

We didn’t get any good pictures of the ducks, but here’s something else we saw instead! There was a huge emergence of salmon flies. It was quite a spectacle – though a little overwhelming as they started to land all over us!

White: our day came to a close visiting the mud volcanoes. We were greeted at Dragons’ Mouth Spring with a deep gurgling sound and plumes of white steam billowing out from the Earth. We took the time to appreciate the rarity of these thermal features present in our world.

Dragons' Mouth Spring

Dragons’ Mouth Spring

Enjoying the many diverse colors of the park helped us to reflect and appreciate the beauty and wonder of Yellowstone.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Becky Hurt permalink
    June 21, 2016 8:27 pm

    Really enjoying the post. Remembering how refreshing being in such a majestic place truly is. Enjoy every minute of it. On Jun 21, 2016 1:09 PM, “Yellowstone Institute” wrote:

    > Melissa Dowland posted: “Following in the footsteps of Thomas Moran, a > painter who helped to encourage congress to establish Yellowstone as a > National Park through his beautiful artistic documentation of the > landscape, we spent the day observing the many colors of the Yellowstone” >

  2. June 22, 2016 8:36 pm

    I found the blogs and photos of your guy’s trip to Yellowstone to be quite awesome! But i have a question, how has the constant volcanic activity in Yellowstone national park affected the habitats of species living in the park?

  3. Alea Ransom permalink
    June 23, 2016 6:34 pm

    In reference to Dragons’ Mouth Spring, you mentioned it being a rare geothermal feature and I was wondering did you notice anything different about the environment surrounding it or where there any species living around it or maybe inside of it? I was asking because when we discovered rare things like this it leads to more discovery like the hydrothermal vents. At first it was just the discovery of them and where they occur then we learned that it was a part of a ecosystem and species lived around it and even depended on it. So do you think discoveries like this help us learn more things about our environment or does it only lead to more questions?

  4. Tamiya Troy permalink
    June 23, 2016 11:55 pm

    What exactly causes the shape of the purple flower?

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