VIDEO: Flying Over the Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone

The Grand Prismatic Spring is one of Wyoming's most frequently photographed natural features. Usually, those pictures show the spring from eye-level. A recently published video from a pilot shows the thermal pool from a rarely seen perspective, and it's glorious!

Yellowstone National Park

This video covers the pilot's flight from Cody, Wyoming to Yellowstone, and back again. The entire video is fun, but if you want to skip directly to the Grand Prismatic Spring, it stars right around 15 minutes into the video. 

The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third-largest in the world, after Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand and Boiling Lake in Dominica. It is located in the Midway Geyser Basin.

This video covers the pilot's flight from Cody, Wyoming to Yellowstone, and back again. The entire video is fun, but if you want to skip directly to the Grand Prismatic Spring, it stars right around 15 minutes into the video. 

Flyover of Grand Prismatic Spring begins at 15:00

The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third-largest in the world, after Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand and Boiling Lake in Dominica. It is located in the Midway Geyser Basin.

Grand Prismatic Spring was noted by geologists working in the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871, and named by them for its striking coloration. Its colors match most of those seen in the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.

Yellowstone Entrance Sign

The first records of the spring are from early European explorers and surveyors. In 1839, four trappers from the American Fur Company crossed the Midway Geyser Basin and made a note of a "boiling lake", most likely the Grand Prismatic Spring, with a diameter of 300 feet. In 1870 the Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition visited the spring, noting a 50-foot geyser nearby (later named Excelsior). 

Yellowstone Geiser
Yellowstone Geiser

The bright, vivid colors in the spring are the result of microbial mats around the edges of the mineral-rich water. The mats produce colors ranging from green to red; the amount of color in the microbial mats depends on the ratio of chlorophyll to carotenoids and on the temperature gradient in the runoff. In the summer, the mats tend to be orange and red, whereas in the winter, the mats are usually dark green. The center of the pool is sterile due to extreme heat.

The deep blue color of the water in the center of the pool results from the intrinsic blue color of water. The effect is strongest in the center of the spring because of its sterility and depth.

The spring is approximately 370 feet (110 m) in diameter and is 160 feet (50 m) deep. The spring discharges an estimated 560 US gallons (2,100 L) of 160 °F (70 °C) water per minute.