Rock Needles and Basalt Palisade, Lower Canyon of the Yellowstone, Wyo.
figureposted on 2019-05-21, 00:00 authored by No Author
ROCK NEEDLES AND BASALT PALISADE, LOWER CANYON OF THE YELLOWSTONE. A few hundred yards N. of Tower Falls, the highway extending toward Camp Roosevelt, has been cut with great engineering skill into the face of the cliff on the W. side of the lower canyon of the Yellowstone, several hundred feet above the river. At this point we suddenly see, directly across the canyon from us, some remarkable rock formations. The entire lower portioin of the canyon wall consists of the whit, cement-like deposits left by the action of innumerable ancient hot springs on the original volcanic materials. Under the erosion of the river and of the weather, the softer parts of these deposits have worn away, leaving tall, slender spires of the harder substances somewaht resembling the pinnacles and chimneys in the Grand Canyon but more rounded and regular in form, like the minarets of some vast Mohammedan mosque. Above these "needles," as they are called, close to the surface of the ground is a stratum of basalt, fractured into equal-sided prisms each about 30 ft. in height and several feet in diameter. they stand so closely together that where the formation has broken off along the upper rim of the canyon it ahs all the appearance of a mighty palisade built for defense by some cyclopean race of ages past. These strange rock formations were the first wonders encountered by the members of the Washburn Expedition when they explored the Yellowstone region in 1870. It was upon the strength of the accurate information obtained by the Washburn party that Congress, in 1872, set aside this then remote portion of the Rocky Mountains as the first great National Park. (View looking N. Elev 6,500 ft. Lat. 45° N.; Long. 111° W.)