Jill, Day Hiking Ambassador
“5 Minutes. The expedition stood there looking over the rim at the canyon for 5 minutes in complete silence in shock of the beauty they had found. That is why this is known as Inspiration Point.” our guide said. Wearing our 30 inch Wilderness Tubbs Snowshoes that we had brought all the way out to Yellowstone, we were experiencing the awe of winter at Inspiration Point.
Overlooking the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone we felt the breathless wonderment that explores experienced long ago. The canyon was vast and dropped 800-1200 feet below. Standing on the rim and looking across the way we could see the colors of the canyon peeking out from underneath the snow. The broad spectrum of yellows, oranges, and reds in contrast with the snow were beyond belief. Paired together in the dance of winter the landscape and snow were exquisite and unique. Never had I have ever seen something so brilliant in winter’s embrace.
In researching the origin of the kaleidoscope of colors that adorned the canyon walls I found that they resulted from a process called hydrothermal alteration. Originally the canyon below was once a geyser basin that formed from rhyolite lava flows. The rhyolite rock that remained was altered by intense heat from the geyser basin and chemically changed. Due to the reaction between the heat and the variety of iron compounds within rhyolite the rock became hydrothermally altered and weak. With exposure to the elements over time the colors of the altered rhyolite has brought the canyon to life.
We marveled at the colors as we snowshoed our way along the great canyon’s rim. With each curve and slight bend we looked down and saw the characteristics of the canyon change within. We would see different columns of steam rise and the canyon walls change in the light. We were even so fortunate to spot a golden eagle soaring by.
Making our way to the grand finale of our morning hike I was counting down my snowy steps until the viewpoint of Lower Falls. Hearing the thunder echo off of the canyon walls I came around the trail’s bend and saw it standing at 308 feet tall.