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West Thumb Geyser Basin
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone tourists arriving from the south usually encounter their first colorful hot pools and steam vents at West Thumb Geyser Basin. If they are very lucky they might even see a geyser eruption here. There is also a bubbling mud pot and an inspiring view over huge Yellowstone Lake.

In the nineteenth century, when the first visitors were reaching Yellowstone, the West Thumb Geyser Basin was much more active than it is today. Since then it has cooled, the few active geysers are more sporadic, and many of the pools have changed color. But it is still an excellent introduction to the park and just about everyone stops and looks around.

The odd name comes from the shape of Yellowstone Lake, fancifully likened to a hand with three fingers and a thumb. This geothermal area is at the end of the thumb.

For more information see the article Geothermal areas of Yellowstone on Wikipedia.


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Pools at West Thumb range from crystal clear to milky to muddy

Pools at West Thumb range from crystal clear to milky to muddy

Visitors arriving from the south encounter their first colorful hot pools and steam vents at West Thumb Geyser Basin.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 31, 2014
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Black Pool has changed color since it was named

Black Pool has changed color since it was named

Once very hot and devoid of life, cooler temperature have allowed bacteria in Black Pool to produce blue-green colors.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 31, 2014
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Fishing Cone is a hot spring submerged in Yellowstone Lake

Fishing Cone is a hot spring submerged in Yellowstone Lake

One of the classic stories about the wonders of Yellowstone is that you could catch a trout in the lake, reel it in, then turn around and cook it in a hot spring without even taking if off the hook. Fishing Cone was the most famous spot where this could actually have been done, and features in many early tourist photos.


Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 31, 2014
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Abyss, deepest and clearest of the hot pools at West Thumb

Abyss, deepest and clearest of the hot pools at West Thumb

Abyss Pool in the West Thumb Geyser Basin is deep and very clear.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 31, 2014
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Network of walkways at West Thumb Geyser Basin

Network of walkways at West Thumb Geyser Basin

When the first visitors were reaching Yellowstone the West Thumb Geyser Basin was much more active than it is today.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 31, 2014
See location in Google Maps

Numerous hot springs, steam vents, and geysers

Numerous hot springs, steam vents, and geysers

In the nineteenth century dozens of frequently-erupting geysers, plus steam vents and mud pots made for a lively scene at West Thumb Geyser Basin.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 31, 2014
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A bubbling mud pot at West Thumb Geyser Basin

A bubbling mud pot at West Thumb Geyser Basin

A gray mud pot next to the parking lot at West Thumb Geyser Basin.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 31, 2014
See location in Google Maps

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