Yellowstone West Thumb

West Thumb history and facilities NOTE: Consult the map of West Thumb Geyser Basin on 138 for West Thumb facilities. The information and bookstore building, where the Yellowstone Association sells books and pamphlets, is housed in the former ranger station dating from 1925, now used as a warming hut in winter. ©(5) S©(4) Reached from this parking lot are the West Thumb picnic area, two hiking trails, and the West Thumb Geyser Basin boardwalks. There is no running water. The rather strange name of this spot, West Thumb, refers to the shape of this bay in Yellowstone Lake. Early explorers thought the lake resembled a hand with fingers protruding southward. Early surveyors even thought for a while that and Grand Teton National Park. 0.2/20.4 Entrance to parking for West Thumb Geyser Basin, an information and bookstore building, and a picnic area. West Thumb Junction to Fishing Bridge Junction there was a fifth finger.

When it turned out that the small body of water was not connected to the larger lake, it was named Delusion Lake. You could take a steamboat from West Thumb to a dock at Lake Hotel from the 1890s until soon after automobiles were allowed into the park in 1915. At that time the steamboat line was abandoned as unprofitable. Until 1989, there were various facilities for visitors at West Thumb, but these were moved to Grant Village to separate them from the fragile hot spring area. It has been rumored that the gas station’s underground storage tank was located where the ground temperature is one degree below the flash point of gasoline! West Thumb Bay is actually a flooded explosion crater formed within the Evening at West Thumb Geyser Basin with alpenglow on the distant Absarokas.

Main Yellowstone caldera about 170,000 years ago. Water for its hot springs and geysers comes up through fractures at the edge of this crater. The lake’s water level is now well above its level of 50 years ago, contributing to the periodic drowning of some of West Thumb’s lakeside thermal features. Two factors may have caused the water level to rise: a general warming of the climate is one. The other is that this whole area is measurably tilting toward the south, attributed by geologists to uplift in the center of the Yellowstone caldera. It is as if there were a dam at Yellowstone Lake’s outlet and it had recently been raised higher. For more about this tilting, see Are We Due for Another Caldera Eruption? in the Geological History chapter.

Yellowstone West Thumb Photo Gallery



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