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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
See location in Google Maps

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 temperatures have allowed bacteria in Black Pool to produce blue-green colors.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

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

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 it 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
See location in Google Maps

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
See location in Google Maps

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
See location in Google Maps

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

West Thumb Geyser Basin

West Thumb Geyser Basin

This geothermal area is on the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. It contains numerous beautiful hot pools and springs, but no regularly erupting geysers.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 17, 2017

Abyss Pool at West Thumb

Abyss Pool at West Thumb

Abyss Pool is noted for its beautiful aquamarine colors and exceptional depth. It has also been called Tapering Spring from its conic underwater shape.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 17, 2017

Boardwalk at Abyss Pool

Boardwalk at Abyss Pool

The wooden boardwalk allows visitors to safely peer into the 53-foot depths of Abyss Pool.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 17, 2017

Black Pool at West Thumb

Black Pool at West Thumb

Black Pool used to be brownish-black because of orange and brown algae growing in its warm waters. But in 1991 a new vent raised the temperature of the water and killed the alage. The new white color of the hotspring's basin resulted in an intensely blue pool.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 17, 2017

Big Cone Spring in Yellowstone Lake

Big Cone Spring in Yellowstone Lake

Two similar hot springs, Big Cone and Fishing Cone, are found at the edge of Yellowstone Lake in the West Thumb Geyser Basin. At one time you could catch a fish in the lake then cook it in the hotspring wthout taking it off the hook. Fishing in the lake is still allowed, but not cooking in the springs.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Date photographed: July 17, 2017

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