Morning Glory Pool
August 27, 2020
Yellowstone National Park is one of those magical places that you hear about your entire life! Ever since you were a kid, you’ve probably heard stories about the buffalo, the hot springs and Old Faithful.
One of the most famous hot springs in Yellowstone is Morning Glory Pool. An exquisitely beautiful and interesting pool, it is twenty-seven feet deep and is about a mile and a half walk from Old Faithful Geyser. Long a favored destination for park visitors, Morning Glory Pool was named in the 1880s for its remarkable likeness to its namesake flower. This popular tourist attraction sees three million visitors per year, who flock to gaze at its psychedelic waters. Its fierce colors are influenced by how light interacts with the water’s depth, with yellow and orange colors in the shallows and green in the deep waters. Pigments are produced by microbes in the water, called microbial mats, and they are partially responsible for the brilliant yellow, greens and oranges that now tinge Morning Glory Pool and others in the Park.
Unfortunately, the many tourists that have visited the Pool are causing its slow destruction, and Morning Glory Pool is slowly losing its brilliant blue color. Due to large amounts of trash and coins being thrown into the Pool, there has been a build-up of debris on the bottom which is causing the underwater vents to become clogged up and water circulation and temperature to be changed. Dangerous to the survival of this geothermal feature!
Before the 1960s, Morning Glory Pool was a deep, sometimes tropical-looking blue color. As you can see, the pictures above show the current colors of this hot spring.
While Park Service employees can retrieve some of the trash (and drones) that have fallen into these fragile pools, it is not an easy feat due to the fact that geothermal waters that can get as hot as 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Mechanical arms have been used as well, with mixed results. So, it is unlikely that the Pool will ever return to its beautiful blue color, as seen below in the 1940s!
Since 1872, millions of travelers have visited Yellowstone National Park, one of the most awe-inspiring and breathtaking places in the world. In addition to its beauty and abundant wildlife, the immense Yellowstone Volcano has created many hydrothermal wonders, such as geysers, mudpots, hot springs, fumaroles and travertine terraces … all part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. As one of the most beautiful elements in the Park, the deterioration of Morning Glory Pool, demonstrates the need for us to protect the Park in order to preserve it for the enjoyment and education of future generations.
To read more about our national parks, check out these titles:
100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See, What to Do, written by Joseph R. Yogerst. National Geographic, 2019.
Backpacker: The National Parks Coast to Coast: 100 Best Hikes, written by Ted Alvarez. Falcon Guides, 2016.
USA’s National Parks, written by Christopher Pitts. Lonely Planet, 2016.
USA National Parks, written by Becky Lomax. Avalon Travel, 2018.