Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone USA
The aerial view of Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the world’s great spectacles. It is a 90m diameter natural hot spring situated 8.5km from Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, (see location map fig1), and is accessed by boardwalk from the car park. From the air it is an astonishing sight of vivid colours, deep blue in the centre where the water is very hot and sterile, changing through turquoise, green and yellow towards the cooler edge. Around the rim the pigmented bacteria form microbial mats that ooze over the landscape in intense colours of yellow and red. From the ground level on the boardwalk some colour can be seen, but the overall impact cannot be realised. A better view can be obtained by walking a kilometre along the Fairy Falls trail and then scrambling up the steep bank on your left to see the spring from an elevated position. However the true visual impact can only be obtained at a height over 400ft from a helicopter. Helicopter charter is out of Bozeman with a flying time each way of 25 minutes.
See central copters bozeman
♦Central Copters are experienced flying into Yellowstone, as some of their pilots have been contracted for wildlife surveys.
♦Yellowstone national park has an advisory note of not flying below 2000ft. I flew in early May before the summer season, when there were very few people in the park, so I felt I would not be nuisance flying over Grand Prismatic Spring. The helicopter pilot registered the flight into Yellowstone with the National Parks Authority without problem.
♦The overall intensity of colour of the spring is accentuated when there is some snow cover on the ground.
Fig2 is a small section of the springs showing the boardwalk. (The photo showing the whole of the spring is not reproduced here, being reserved for my book).
♦To avoid obstruction the passenger door was removed just outside the park and left on the ground. I used a 70-200mm lens at an exposure of 1/1000 sec to 1/1500 sec to reduce vibration and changed the height of the helicopter above the ground to obtain the best composition.
♦The best time is around the middle of the day with the sun high in the sky. This reduces the reflection of sunlight from the wind driven surface ripples maximizing the colour contrast and intensity. It still will be necessary to circle the spring to find the best viewpoint and to eliminate surface reflection.