Day 83, to West Yellowstone, MONTANA: A waterfall, a geyser, an absolutely amazing rainbow-colored pond … and a tourist town - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

July 14, 2022

Day 83, to West Yellowstone, MONTANA: A waterfall, a geyser, an absolutely amazing rainbow-colored pond … and a tourist town

This is the Great Prismatic Spring. It makes a large, circular pool with a rainbow of colors emanating out from the center, with the deepest blue in the middle, then green, yellow, orange and, on the far outskirts on the ground, a rusty red. The colors are the result of microhydrothermophiles. I think the park just calls them thermophiles, but don't we all love a few extra prefixes? In any cases, they're microbes that love extremely hot temperatures and I assume the spring is hottest at the center, where the blue ones thrive, and least hot in the outskirts.
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Thursday stats

Start: Madison Campground, Yellowstone National Park

End: The Fox Den RV Campground, West Yellowstone, MONTANA — new state!

The Daily Progress: Only 14.3 miles further along the TransAm, but we also rode 23.2 miles without our gear to go see Fairy Falls, Imperial Geyser and the Great Prismatic Spring before returning to camp to pick up our stuff and start heading westward again.

Climb: 591

Ice cream flavors: NA

Lodging expenses: $40.90

Food expenses: Probably $100. Pizza for dinner. 12 for lunch at Madison Campground. Stops at two grocery stores in West Yellowstone.

Dani's daily digest

We started our day by having coffee with three of the other cyclists in camp, thanks to the kind people at Madison Campground, who brew coffee for folks camped in the hiker/biker area. 

After coffee, we biked deeper into the park to accomplish two lingering objectives: hiking to Fairy Falls/Imperial Geyser and viewing the Grand Prismatic Spring. The hike was a good return on investment; four miles of hiking netted us views of a 200-foot waterfall and a continually erupting geyser. But Grand Prismatic Spring was the real showstopper of the day. We saw it first from the overlook. It was beautiful and otherworldly, like an alien Dale Chihuly was commissioned to make an art installation for Planet Earth. Even though the overlook afforded the best view, I was compelled to get as close as I could, so we biked to the boardwalk and walked to the edge of the spring. When a cloud passed between the sun and the spring, the spring's colors would dull. When the cloud passed, the colors would saturate faster and more intensely than my brain could anticipate. It was dazzling. I watched it happen three times.

Here's a shot of Dani at right, with the Great Prismatic Spring in the background. Dani and I are standing on an overlook on a hill, giving this vantage point. We then went down to see the spring up close.
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Now at our full capacity for awe, it was time to leave the park. We biked ten miles back to our campsite, ate lunch, loaded our bikes, and biked fourteen miles to reach civilization as represented by the gateway city of West Yellowstone, Montana. Our first stop was the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, a non-profit zoo that houses animals that can no longer live in the wild for one reason or another. The center was of interest to me not only because it gave us a chance to observe animals we did not see in the park (and would not be able to watch at such close range for such length), but also because last fall I had seen a position at the center on a job board and had nearly applied. We watched grizzlies catch and fight over fish, wolves affirm their rankings within the pack, great horned owls being generally adorable and cat-like, and a river otter gamboling about in his tank. 

After visiting the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, we got pizza and then went grocery shopping. Our day ended at an RV park that is nowhere near as picturesque as the places we have slept over the past six nights. 

Today's ride: 14 miles (23 km)
Total: 3,043 miles (4,897 km)

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