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East Berlin, Pennsylvania
October 13, 2006
Norris is the spot where, if this volcano totally comes to life again, you're at ground zero (so scientists expect). This place is filled with thermal features, but unlike others, they aren't predictable. Springs and geysers can dry up—or open—overnight. The "danger" part is caused by this: an unexpected geyser eruption in an area that used to mainly be a boiling pot CAN be an issue, but it is rare (happened with Porkchop Geyser in 1989). Boardwalks have been "redone" here at times due to thermal changes (boardwalks can get too hot and burning/melting visitor's shoes).
Yellowstone's current tallest geyser is here (Steamboat), but if you see it, you're incredibly lucky, as it doesn't erupt often and certainly isn't predictable. Other main sites are mainly of boiling pots and geysers that, again, aren't predictable. It's the change and the "hot spot" you go to see for the most part.
There are two hikes here: the Back Basin Trail is 1 1/2 miles (mostly loop) and has a bit of elevation change. The Porcelain Basin is 3/4ths mile (mostly loop), and we didn't make it on Porcelain due to time constraints (sorry, though we DID need a reason to return).
The Back Basin is filled with thermal features interspersed with hiking (complete with a bit of elevation change in steps and boardwalk, perhaps too much elevation change for some folks to handle easily). What you see is varied, but generally not the same awe-inspiring beauty we found in other places (hard to see geysers erupting and the pools, in the Back Basin at least, are generally not as pretty with a bit of walking in between them), so this is a stop I'll mainly recommend if you feel lucky (to see Steamboat) or if you have time and want to see a bit more than a day trip allows. It IS neat to see the "hot spot," so to speak, and there are features here (like Minute Geyser) that have been damaged by vandals in the older days (sigh). Minute Geyser used to erupt every minute, and now it doesn't, due to being clogged by "stuff" people threw in wanting to see it be thrust back out.
There's a small museum and bookstore here, both located between the two hikes, and of course, they have those all-important restrooms.
I definitely don't mean to "minimize" Norris, and we do need to return to check out the Porcelain Basin, but if you're working against time, in our opinion, Norris isn't as good of a first choice as the Upper Geyser Basin.
From journal 2006 Trip Pt 2 - WY - Devil's Tower to Yellowstone
Red Bluff, California
August 30, 2006
From journal Yellowstone in August