West Thumb Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park boasts one of the arguably best backdrops for a geyser basin in all of Yellowstone. This collection of springs and geysers is laced by a family-friendly boardwalk that is great and accessible for anyone and everyone.
I started walking the boardwalk of West Thumb Geyser Basin in the evening which I think is one of the two best times to hike these busy areas (the other being early morning.) I was blown away first thing by the stunning backdrop of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. All of these geysers are smattered about the landscape with the lake fully in view and a figure-eight boardwalk weaving around them.
I went to the right past Thumb Paint Pots with is chalky water, colorful shrubs, and elk wandering through. I passed a clear, deep-blue pool on my way across travertine ground on a boardwalk to the edge of the mighty lake. Fishing Cone and Big Cone poked up from the expanse of West Thumb and you could see goldeneyes fishing. Behind them, Yellowstone Lake seemed to stretch forever.
The boardwalk stretched across the shoreline over orange and brown mats of microorganisms. These extremophiles living in perpetually hot, mineral-rich waters coming from Black Pool and flowing out to the lake. Water from Abyss Pool poured over short, travertine cliffs further along the shoreline in a hot, drippy cascade to the lake.
The boardwalk wrapped up to Abyss Pool and Black Pool, allowing me to gaze into their depths, then crossed through a varied collection of geysers, pools, and fumaroles. Colors of sapphire, green, and mud puddle brown, clear and murky. Fumaroles steamed non-stop and some mud blurped.
After passing numerous smaller and larger pools and more travertine, I found myself back at the beginning of the boardwalk. The West Thumb Geyser Basin was varied, strange, and incredibly beautiful… and full of elk.