Fountain Paint Pot and Minerva Terrace – Changing Landscapes

Lex sez about Fountain Paint Pot:

After leaving Old Faithful Inn, we drove almost nine miles to our next destination, the Fountain Paint Pot.  It seemed like hundreds of bubbles were popping every second.  But I didn’t think it was nearly as loud as the fumaroles next to it.  I thought I was used to the smell of sulfur by then, but it was even more intense here than at Old Faithful.

There was a trail that we followed in the area allowing us to see other geysers.The clouds overhead had grown thicker, which really created a mystical atmosphere complementing the steaming geysers.  Neek and I got back in our car and drove off as the rain started to fall.  It was still misting a bit as we reached our next destination, Mammoth Hot Springs.

Neek sez about Fountain Paint Pot:

There were a lot of funny smells and not all of them good, walking to the Fountain Paint Pot.  This place was amazing though!  There’s a vat of mud in the middle of a mound that is bubbling, gurgling and churning around.  The rising gases underneath the caldera, forces the water up to the surface and with gases, causes the mud to bubble.  The different red and brown colors are from the oxidizing iron in the mud.

The mud was pretty soupy since there was water from rain and melting snow.  When summer ends, the mud gets thicker.


There’s something always fascinating about seeing nature do something that reminds us of something else.  Those bubbles in the mud remind me of making cream of wheat or oatmeal on the stove.  What a weird connection.  The other vent of mud kept spewing reddish brown colored liquid and it was loud! It looked like hot chocolate to me.  Maybe I was getting a little hungry?

Anyways, the other geysers and steam vents were active and very lively and we thoroughly enjoyed walking through this unearthly scenery.

Lex sez about Mammoth Hot Springs:

I was very careful trying to keep the camera from getting wet at Mammoth Hot Springs.  Starting off at Minerva Terrace, I was surprised at the amount of water flowing from there, which was pretty minimal compared to what I remembered visiting 28 years earlier.  Then I went over to Mound and Jupiter Terrace and it seemed like it was completely dry, the whiteness of the rock against the deep gray of the clouds made the atmosphere seem ominous.  After that, the rain started coming down a lot harder.  So I tucked the camera inside my jacket and raced back to the car.

Neek sez about Minerva Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs:

Before traveling to Yellowstone National Park, I had heard that the water flow had shifted in Minerva Terrace and it was not as beautiful as it once was.  I was anxious to see how it looked now.

Minerva Terrace was one of the most beautiful travertine terraces in the Mammoth Hot Springs area.  Travertine is a type of limestone that is deposited through flowing mineral hot springs.  It’s the same material that makes stalagmites and stalactites in caverns and is often used in this country for flooring.  The color of the limestone may be white, tan, cream or rust.  When the water flows, the terraces are vibrant and beautiful.

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Minerva Terrace during its most beautiful period in the past – Image by Brigitte Werner Courtesy of


As we drove up to the parking lot, we saw that the terrace had indeed mostly dried up. The water levels were way down and there was a small trickle coming down the sides.  The main part of the terrace had become dry and gray.  But this is normal for Yellowstone.  It’s a park that is in a constant state of change like life is.  Before Minerva Terrace, in the 1930’s, people would come to see Angel Terrace or Blue Springs but they are now gone.

Some say that the water might shift again and bring Minerva back to life.  Maybe, but if not, that’s ok because no doubt there will be a new terrace being born and I will look forward to that.






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