Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Pinkerton Hot Springs

with 37 comments

Pinkerton Hot Springs 0756

There was color of a different sort at the Pinkerton Hot Springs, which we stopped at on US 550 north of Durango on September 25th before any good stands of autumn aspens came into sight.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 22, 2014 at 5:42 AM

37 Responses

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  1. My first thought was that a giant, multi-colored fall sqash had been dropped down into the landscape. Then, I spent a minute appreciating the artistic treatment of the water. Only then did I think, “What in the world is this?” Well, now I know. DId you already know about the springs, or did you just come across them? What a great roadside attraction. I found this page that’s already been tucked away into my files, just in case.

    The natural landscape in the background and the surreal treatment of the springs makes for a great contrast.


    October 22, 2014 at 6:03 AM

    • Now I see the squash, where before I didn’t. Good imagination, as usual.

      I’d never heard of Pinkerton Hot Springs, but as I was driving north I saw it by the side of the road and pulled over. My first impression was that the formation wasn’t quite natural, even if the mineral deposits were, and the article you linked to echoes that, calling it a half-fake hot spring.

      Speaking of background, the picture of aspens two posts back showed a clear blue sky, and that might have given the impression of a sunhine, but the clouds in today’s photo were what predominated as the afternoon wore on (later there was even thunder). In the other photo I happened to get a bit of blue when aiming in the opposite direction from the one in the picture of the springs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2014 at 8:20 AM

  2. Wow. It looks like someone vandalized the rocks with appropriate Halloween-shades of paint. As someone with interests in microbiology, I’d love to know what was living in those crusts. Lots of thermophilic bacteria I would guess. You may be interested to know that the enzyme Taq polymerase allows for what is called the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) … a reaction which allows for gene amplification and for which a Nobel was awarded to Kary Mullis in 1993. The enzyme was originally isolated from the bacterium Thermus aquaticus which thrives at temperatures of around 158F! D

    Pairodox Farm

    October 22, 2014 at 6:05 AM

    • I’d heard of polymerase chain reaction as a technique of gene amplification, but not of the enzyme Taq, which looks like an Arabic name (compare Iraq). Your bacterium Thermus aquaticus reminds me of Thomas Aquinas. That’s two q‘s this morning, a number that matches the two strikes in the Halloween countdown.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2014 at 9:09 AM

      • As a seasoned user of WordPress, and to go way off topic … I’m sure you’ve noticed some changes recently. I am finding it increasingly difficult to get to my dashboard. Or, at least, I am finding it impossible to do so with a few keystrokes as I could, even a week ago. Tell me … how do you currently migrate to your WP dashboard?

        Pairodox Farm

        October 22, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        • I don’t often go to the dashboard per se, but in my browser I’ve bookmarked the page for scheduled posts, and that puts me inside the dashboard.

          If I’m on any WordPress page, my browser shows a WordPress toolbar across the top of the page. The second icon in from the left is the name of my blog, and if I hover my mouse there I get a pop-down menu whose first item is Dashboard.

          A few months ago I clicked somewhere (sorry, I don’t remember where) to stay with the older style of editing, and that may have made a difference.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 22, 2014 at 10:20 AM

          • Yes, I used to migrate to that toolbar, but now I am ushered to a new and improved front page which is useless if I want immediate access to my dashboard. I’ve got to migrate to ‘my sites’ and then somewhere else and then I’ll finally be presented with the dashboard, from which I can access my ‘traditional’ editing screen. Hrumph. Progress … exactly backward. D

            Pairodox Farm

            October 22, 2014 at 2:34 PM

            • It’s horrible! Supposed to give us new improved and quick access to ??????. It doesn’t as far as I can tell!


              October 23, 2014 at 12:09 AM

              • Hey there Gallivanta. Thanks for your reply and for validating my not-so-positive opinion of the recent changes. I find that the only way I can easily access my dashboard leaves me with two WP windows open … both of which I have to sign out of to exit WP cleanly. I don’t really see in what way these changes are improvements. If the goal is to be writing and creating content, it seems to me that access to the dashboard is critically important. These new changes seem to have relegated the dashboard to some secondary level of importance. Thanks again for making me feel as if I wasn’t the only one out there thinking this way. D

                Pairodox Farm

                October 23, 2014 at 5:09 AM

                • Let’s hope WP realises that hiding the dashboard is an odd idea.


                  October 23, 2014 at 6:15 AM

      • Taq simply stands for ‘T’hermus ‘aq’uaticus!

        Pairodox Farm

        October 22, 2014 at 2:30 PM

  3. Amazing…looks like petrified flames.

    Marcia Levy

    October 22, 2014 at 7:38 AM

  4. I assumed the formation was natural until I read the article. Hot and mineral springs have drawn people for healing effects real and imagined for many many years.

    Jim in IA

    October 22, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    • When I visited Yellowstone, which is Hot Springs Central, I saw natural formations not all that different from this one, so it’s reasonable to assume at first glance that Pinkerton Hot Springs is the real deal too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2014 at 9:25 AM

  5. I visited Google Maps to see if there was a streetview of this place. Yes. And, there are pictures left by others. At first glance from a distance, it looks like a giant seething mass of dinosaur poop.

    Jim in IA

    October 22, 2014 at 10:19 AM

  6. Your image makes me think of hot chilli and hot mustard; piles of it. Did you test the heat of the water?


    October 23, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    • No, I never tested the heat of the water. I think it probably would have been tolerable in this case, unlike at many of the geological features at Yellowstone, where the water can be close to boiling.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2014 at 8:17 AM

      • Yes, presumably if it were super hot there would be warning signs or it would be fenced off.


        October 23, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    • As for the condiments, perhaps you were hungry when you saw this picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2014 at 2:43 PM

  7. I had seen pictures of this on the internet a while back, but did not know the details as linked by Linda. Here is another human-encouraged eye catcher if you ever go for a ride in Nevada.

    Steve Gingold

    October 23, 2014 at 6:10 AM

    • Thanks for this information about another “human-encouraged” mineral depositor. That’s two in two months.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2014 at 2:42 PM

  8. To me, the rocks and water have a Van Gogh-esque look.

    At the durangoherald.com webpage that you linked to, I chuckled at the caption for the 2nd image–“Minerals in the water have created a colorful palate on the rocks at the Pinkerton Hot Springs.” (Should have been palette.) For your pic, which makes me think of mustard and ketchup flows, maybe “palate” applies more to YOUR pic than the Durango Herald one.


    October 23, 2014 at 6:53 AM

    • I find that palate ~ palette is a pretty common confusion, and yes, palate works if you see mustard here, as both you and Gallivanta did. She imagined chilli as well, but I’m leaning more toward ketchup.

      Interesting that you also saw overtones (I’m synesthetically mixing media) of Van Gogh in this image. I wonder how he would have painted the formation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2014 at 3:41 PM

  9. Aw, we missed this while in Durango! Will have to put it on our next trip. Very Yellowstone-ish. Which reminds me yet again…


    October 23, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    • It is Yellowstone-ish, and although I was glad to see and photograph it, I’d recommend Yellowstone itself a thousand times over.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2014 at 7:54 PM

  10. stunning stunning stunning stunning! i am so glad that i have more than a few minutes to be online.. this image is amazing, comforting, inspiring.. and makes me want to step into the scene!

    thank you so much! z

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    October 25, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    • You’re most welcome, Lisa. I wish you could have been there to come across this place as unexpectedly as I did. Over the 16 minutes I spent there, I took dozens of pictures from lots of angles because the colors and patterns intrigued me so much.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      • those surprises are like gifts that life gives us.. or little rewards! it’s my luck that i’ve had time to catch up ‘just a little’ but i still want to see every image you’ve posted that i’ve missed!

        Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        October 25, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        • The good thing about Word Press is that all those posts stay up (presumably “forever”), so happy viewing whenever you find the time and the Internet connection.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 25, 2014 at 2:07 PM

  11. That is interesting. Are minerals in the water doing that?


    November 7, 2014 at 10:03 AM

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