Yellowstone is filled with all sorts of photogenic things, and, like most national parks, you’ll find photographers aplenty with their cameras pointed at them. Whenever I visit, I end up getting mesmerized by the colors and textures of the mud, rather than the landscape. I suppose this interplay of geology, chemistry and water is precisely what makes Yellowstone so unique, even if the biome atop it is one of the most biologically diverse places in North America.

I’m not sure if the “Hot Plopper” has a proper name– some pools bear little plaques that say something like “Black Dragon’s Mouth”, “Steamboat Geyser”, or “Do Not Throw Objects in the Pool”, but this one is unlabeled. Ominously, the boardwalk surrounding it is spattered with mud, implying that the viewing area is well within the splash zone of the pool. For some reason, the combination of farty sounds, thick mud, and the possibility of having it shoot out unpredictably make just about every visitor chuckle at it, so it might be Yellowstone’s “funniest” feature. Of course, I don’t know how hot that mud is– it’s steamy, but maybe it’s more like “warm drink” or “chili” steamy, as opposed to “flesh scalding hell mud.” One would surmise that if it was hazardous, observers wouldn’t be allowed so close… but it’s prudent to keep in mind that national parks are wild places, and even on “safe” ground one could fall into a destabilized geothermal sinkhole, get gored by a buffalo, or just plain trip on a rock.

Anyhoo, as a bonus feature for this week’s comic, I made a little movie of the Hot Plopper. Here it is, presented in slow motion, stereo, and full-color! Of course, the pool is full of white mud, so I suppose it looks the same in black and white…