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  • Grand Canyon of the YellowstoneGrand Canyon of the Yellowstone National Park Wyoming
    This grand canyon is the first big canyon that you will come upon on the Yellowstone River that is downstream of the Yellowstone Falls in the park. It is 900 feet deep, and half a mile wide, and certainly not the Grand Canyon of Arizona fame. This beautiful canyon was known to the prospectors and trappers that traveled the region, but there weren't any descriptions until the expedition of 1869 of Cook-Folsom-Peterson, and also the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition of 1870, that also noted and named "Old Faithful". Bozeman resident H.F. Richardson, also called Uncle Tom, was given a permit to run a ferry across the Yellowstone River, where today the Chittenton Bridge is located, and he could take tourists into the canyon after the lower falls, and called this Uncle Tom's Trail, in 1890. This trail is gone, but the steep stairway going down to the base of the lower falls is called Uncle Tom's Trail. They are aware of the reactions of the rhyolite rocks that can be heated with hydrothermal actions, kind of like a potato baking. The inside would become soft, while the outside remained brittle or hard, but easy enough to erode, once the outer skin was punctured. This kind of activity still is happening in the basin today, with the many geysers and hot springs that are still local and active.  Even now, the Yellowstone River is eroding the canyon, and other areas of the park, as it meanders its way through. Because of the hydrothermal activity, the colors of the rock formations and the canyon are quite beautiful, and the rhyolite rocks in the canyon have various iron compounds in them, that will cause the rocks to change colors. Much of the canyon is oxidizing, and rusting away the walls, and the many yellows that are seen here are the results of that iron compound and not as many believe, the sulphur composition.  

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  • Yellowstone LakeYellowstone Lake Wyoming
    The Yellowstone Lake is the biggest body of water in the park, and it is also the biggest body of water in all of North America that sits above the 7000 feet mark. During the winter months, this lake can freeze up to a depth of 3 feet, except in those areas that are shallow and sit over the hot springs. The entire park and landscapes surrounding it has been home to many Native American groups since prehistoric times, and the first white man believed to have seen it was John Colter in the early 1800s, while he was trapping. In the hey day of the fur trapping years, the 1820s to 1840s, it is believed that many men came here to trap, hunt and fish. Trapper Osborne Russell wrote in his diary about his visit to the lake in 1836; "16th August- Mr. Bridger came up with the remainder of the party. 18th- The whole camp moved down the east shore of the lake through thick pines and fallen timber about eighteen miles and encamped in a small prairie. 19th- continued down the shore to the outlet about twenty miles, and encamped in a beautiful plain which extended along the northern extremity of the lake. This valley was interspersed with scattering groves of tall pines, forming shady retreats for the numerous elk and deer during the heat of the day. The lake is about 100 miles in circumference." The lake had been known by many names, as witnessed in the journals and maps from those early times, but fur trader David Thompson and explorer William Clark called it Yellow Stone. Osborne Russell had called the lake the Yellow Stone Lake in his journal from 1834. In some of his maps, William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, called the lake Eustis and also Sublette's during those early years, but it was the 1839 map of U.S. Army topographical engineer, Washington Hood, who formally named it Yellowstone Lake.

March 07, 2011