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Grand Canyon of Yellowstone EarthCache

Hidden : 07/20/2007
2 out of 5
3 out of 5

Size: Size:   not chosen (not chosen)

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Geocache Description:

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is the result of a combination of volcanic eruptions, hydrothermal activity, and glaciation.

This earthcache requires visiting two locations along the north rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, one stop at Inspiration Point and the other at either the Upper or Lower Falls. Alternative locations on the south rim approximately that are approximately opposite the provided coordinates would also provide similar experiences. However at the time of my visit, the south rim was closed for construction. The terrain can be taken down to a 1 by staying at the lookout parking lots.

Inspiration Point N44 43.478 W110 28.189 (the coordinates are out on the point. Cachers that have difficulty with stairs can remain in the parking lot) The giant Yellowstone Caldera was formed about 640,000 years ago (see Yellowstone Caldera at Madison Junction). The area around Canyon was later filled with thousands of feet of rhyolite, a viscous gaseous volcanic rock about 480,000 years ago.

Hydrothermal activity that is so common in Yellowstone chemically changed areas of the rhyolite. Hydrothermal activity can still be seen in some parts of the canyon. This alteration gave the walls their spectacular colors and weakened the rocks.

At one time glaciers covered the area under a thick blanket of ice. About 14,000 years ago the glaciers began to melt, sending large volumes of water down the canyon. These waters quickly eroded down through the hydrothermally weakened rocks.

Upper or Lower Falls N44 42.785 W110 29.982 or N44 43.095 W110 29.777 (again cachers that have difficulty with stairs or steep trails can stay in the parking areas) However, the rhyolite was not altered along the entire length of the canyon. Where the rhyolite remained unaltered it is much stronger. At these points, falls formed because the altered rhyolite down-stream of the unaltered rhyolite eroded down much faster.

Logging requirements:
Send me a note with :

  1. The text "GC14G6F Grand Canyon of Yellowstone" on the first line
  2. The number of people in your group.
  3. send me a note with the differences you see in the rhyolite along the sides of the canyon at each of the stops. You can stick to color differences, angles of the canyon walls, apparent cohesion (STAY ON THE TRAIL, OBEY ALL WARNING SIGNS, AND DO NOT DO DESTRUCTIVE TESTING)
  4. See if you can find some altered rhyolite between the upper and lower falls to account for the two falls.

The above information was compiled from the following sources:

  • Fritz, William J., Roadside Geology of the Yellowstone Country, Mountain Press Publishing Company, May 1989.
  • Canyon Area Trail Guide, Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone Association, April 2007

Placement approved by the
Yellowstone National Park

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