The section from Lake Village to Tower-Roosevelt along Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has a lot of attractions. There are geysers, trails, waterfalls, hikes, and all kinds of scenery. I made only a few stops on my drive along the road.
The first stop was at Sulphur Caldron, just past Mud Volcano Area. There’s a pullout allowing for views of Sulphur Caldron, which is much different than the other springs in Yellowstone. With a pH of 1.2, it’s 10 times more acidic than lemon juice and filled with sulphuric acid. Microorganisms called thermoacidophiles live inside Sulphur Caldron’s pool and convert hydrogen into sulphuric acid, which in turn breaks up rocks into mud.
One of the other noticeable features of the area is Turbulent Pool, which is similar in acidity to Sulphur Caldron. There are also a few mudpots and craters.
Further up the road is Hayden Valley, which occupies 50 square miles of the park. This is a huge sub-alpine valley that was the historic route to Yellowstone Lake for fur trappers and Native Americans. It’s also the home of Yellowstone’s bison. Bison are born there, they live there, and they die there. Winters are very harsh in the valley and the bison often migrate to lower elevations in search of food, but they always return every spring. In addition to bison, elk and grizzly bears are found there. There are a few places along the road to stop and take photos of the valley.
Closer to Tower-Roosevelt is Tower Fall. Tower Fall is 132 feet high and is named for the rock pinnacles at the top of the falls. The short trail to an overlook of the falls is 1/10 of a mile long.
Just north of Tower Fall is a pullout for Calcite Springs, which has a ¼ mile loop trail and some incredible views. The first part of the trail takes you along the edge of a cliff looking the narrowest part of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. You can also spot huge volcanic basalt columns that were formed when 25 feet of lava flowed through the area.
At the end of the trail, there are views of Calcite Springs, which are named for calcite deposits in the area. Oil and liquid sulphur often seep out of Calcite Springs, and you can see steam from the vents near the river’s edge.