20b gypsum further up trail

SNAP*Shot: Annual Visit with Harlequin Ducks

It’s Mother’s Day and once again the Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) are at LeHardy Rapids not far from Yellowstone Lake.  We talked about them a few years ago, but they are fascinating and so beautiful. Let’s visit with them again.

Look there . . .

20b gypsum further up trail

SNAP-Shot: Winter at the Lower Falls

Yellowstone in the white wrapping of winter is a stunning wonderland. Winter at the Lower Falls is magical with blue ice growing ever thick and wide in this frigid season. An ice cone forms at the base of the falls from splash, mist, and snowfall until it is over half as tall as the falls itself. The water, thick with cold, crashes down 308 feet sending mist into the air taller than the falls. The roar of the falls from Lookout Point is muffled this time of year from all the constraints in it’s path, but once at the bottom, the Yellowstone River flows downhill and north, free of the ice cover it struggled through before the falls. The beauty of this place just begs for us to linger. As the wind picks up, we don’t have enough layers to keep the freezing chill at bay, so time to return to the warmth of the snowcoach and smile at the beauty of this special place.

Lower Falls in Winter

20b gypsum further up trail

SNAP*Shot: Yellowstone’s Iconic Lower Falls

The best known site in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the Lower Falls. Twice as tall as Niagara Falls, water drops 308 feet resulting in mist and froth at its base adding drama and beauty. During the autumn when water flow is at its lowest, about 5,000 gallons (19,000 liters) of water per SECOND drops to the canyon floor. During peak spring runoff 63,500 gallons (240,000 liters) per SECOND thunders over the brink.

Lower Falls

The 20-mile long canyon is up to 1,200 feet deep and up to 4,000 feet wide. The beauty of the deep V-shaped canyon wall colors frame the gorgeous falls. The colors come from different levels of thermal intensity interacting with the rhyolite walls. You can see some of the thermal activity in the canyon walls during the day, but when the temperatures drop you’ll be amazing at all the thermals up and down the walls spewing their steam and losing their anonymity.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Never forget, it is amazing what finding a great spot to relax and beautiful light can do for your spirit. Enjoy . . .

Lower Falls Rainbow

 

20b gypsum further up trail

SNAP*Shot: Harlequin Ducks

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Turbulent, icy cold waters is where you will find these small, brightly colored waterfowl called Harlequins ducks. The largest ducks are about 16″ from the tip of their tail to tip of their bill. In winter they choose the roughest northern coastal waters, but in summer they grace the wild, swirling LeHardy Rapids on the Yellowstone River to mate. The females will remain here raising the young through the summer, returning north in early autumn. These diving ducks feed on crustaceans, small fish, insects, and other assorted life they find as they swim underwater and even walk on the bottom searching the rocks for food. Studies have shown many adult Harlequins have had broken bones, probably a result of living in such rough surroundings. Welcome back Harlequins!

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