Back to Yellowstone – Paint Pots, Geysers and Fumaroles

So here we are back at the Fountain Paint Pot Basin in Yellowstone National Park after a brief foray into the Heartland. I don’t think I have ever taken as many photographs as I did at Yellowstone, but then I’ve never seen such a densely covered wonderland of steaming fumaroles, gurgling mud pools, and shooting geysers, all surrounded by autumn’s glorious color.  After we visited Yellowstone, we went to eight more National Parks and Monuments, including Zion and the Grand Canyon, so there are many more photographs of other wonders of nature coming soon to Seeded Earth.

I figure this is a good time, anyway, to show off the beauty in the National Parks in autumn, because autumn’s color in Wisconsin is taking it on the chin with today’s weather. By nightfall, much of our autumn color will be soggy and on the ground. So, here is more from Yellowstone and beyond.

Sliex Springs on the Fountain Paint Pot Loop in Yellowstone

Silex Spring © 2010 Bo Mackison

The Fountain Paint Pot Basin features several pools, a half dozen geysers, and the largest collection of “paint pots” in Yellowstone. A boardwalk makes observing these wonders not only convenient, but also safe. There are warning signs all over the park asking visitors not to leave the marked paths. Thermal areas are unstable and more than one person has suffered serious injuries when stepping on ground that collapses into a thermal feature.

Just by looking at the pools, it is hard to accurately judge their depths. Silex Spring is about 35 feet by 40 feet on the surface. The hot springs are so clear is some places, it seems as if they are only a few feet deep — misleading. Its deepest area is over 27 feet. The name “Silex” probably refers to the silica composition of the pool, though there are park historians that claim the pool was named after a gurgling coffee pot called the Silex.

Noisy Fumaroles © 2010 Bo Mackison

When the water table is high, geysers spout quite continuously in this bacteria laden pool. When less water is available, the pool is deep brown in color from a high bacteria count, and noisy fumaroles pop along the surface. A fumarole is a geyser that does not reach the surface of the earth, so it only emits hot steam and gases above ground.

Silica and clay form popping "paint pots" in Yellowstone National Park

Fountain Paint Pots © 2010 Bo Mackison

These fountain paint pots bubble on the surface. plop, plop, plop. See the recipe below which was provided on an information sign at the Paint Pots exhibit in Yellowstone.

Recipe for Mudpots © 2010 Bo Mackison

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Great photos! Yellowstone is a very beautiful place, isn’t it! I will look forward to seeing your photos of the other parks too! Very enjoyable!

  2. Great photos. I think I’ll try the recipe for mudpots. Looks pretty interesting. I wonder if my wife would let me? 🙂

  3. These are wonderful captures! I just love Yellowstone and it has been years since I’ve visited there. I remember, though, and these photos bring back memories. I just love the first photo… gorgeous!

  4. You are definitely whetting my appetite for a visit to Yellowstone, Bo. LOVE the mudpots! I can practically hear the plop, plop, plopping….kinda like oatmeal cooking, eh? LOL!

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