Looking down over Biscuit Basin
In terms of what we've seen, Yellowstone is only just interesting. For example, we saw Old Faithful go off, and it was very pretty, but even Antonia remembered that it was not as impressive as Strokkur (I think) in Iceland. She said so in quite a loud voice as well, which wasn't very tactful of her. I could feel the people all around us having palpitations. As for the colored pools and bacterial mats, they are nice enough, but they are a long, long way from being as impressive as the ones we saw in New Zealand. In Yellowstone, there are also far too many boards around, telling you that the thing you're looking at was quite impressive in about 1870, but is now a dud. I can always look at more volcanic activity quite happily, but so far, seeing a real live bison has been the most exciting event for me.
Blue hot spring in the Old Faithful area
Mammoth Spring Terraces
We have mostly been concentrating on the scenery, which I'll hopefully post about tomorrow.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Blue color of Crater Lake
Volcano tourism in Oregon is a lot more fun. Crater Lake can also be a bit of a madhouse, but it's a small park and you would tend to only stop by there for a half day on the way to somewhere. It really is extremely beautiful and worth a little detour (maybe not a huge one). The first time I went to Crater Lake, Mike and I drove on and spent a whole weekend visiting the Newberry National Volcanic Monument near Bend. That's where I went down the very best lava tunnel I've ever been in, Lava River Cave, about a mile into the ground, with the help of some very old-fashioned kind of fuel-based light. I wonder if they still do that? This was my first ever volcano tourism trip, so maybe I've become jaded in the meantime, but I have very fond memories of it, and there are a lot of things to see in Oregon and Washington state that I haven't seen yet.
The Devil's Backbone, on the edge of the crater
Craters of the Moon, Idaho
Mike and Pen emerging from a lava tunnel
On this trip, we stopped at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho off Route 20. Not only did it have a pleasant campsite, a reasonable number of people and ultra-friendly and helpful rangers, but it was enjoyable volcano tourism in a small scale way. You can see a lot of different and interesting things here in a full day: go down a small lava tunnel, climb a small volcanic cone, traipse through a lava field. We only had half a day, so we even had to be selective. It wasn't quite a monumental as being up near Myvatn in Iceland, but it was a nice enough place to be that this wasn't a problem.
Road across the lava field