Back to main page

To Norris Geyser Basin

West Thumb Geyser Basin and Yellowstone Lake

West Thumb Geyser Basin's setting overlooking a portion of Yellowstone Lake, the largest high-elevation lake in North America, makes it Yellowstone's most scenic geyser basin. A boardwalk winds around a small collection of vivid pools, bubbling hot springs and mud pots and hissing fumaroles. Some thermal features emerge from the lake, such as the Fishing Cone where people used to stand to catch fish, then swung the line around to cook them in the boiling water.

West Thumb's hot springs, like others in Yellowstone, are brightly colored by blue-green algae and other microbes that thrive in hot water. (Different microbes grow at various temperatures, so a pool's color can be used to estimate its temperature.)

We hiked up Elephant Back Mountain (bottom photo) through a fragrant lodgepole pine forest to a Yellowstone Lake overlook.



NPS info