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Old Faithful Area Natural Features, Page 1

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The Upper Geyser Basin
Be sure to take our online tour of the basin.

 
A distant view shows the expanse of the Upper Geyser Basin, home to 60% of the world's geyser.
NPS photo
 

Yellowstone, as a whole, possesses close to 60 percent of the world's geysers. The Upper Geyser Basin is home to the largest numbers of this fragile feature found in the park. Within one square mile there are at least 150 of these hydrothermal wonders. Of this remarkable number, only five major geysers are predicted regularly by the naturalist staff. They are Castle, Grand, Daisy, Riverside, and Old Faithful. There are many frequent, smaller geysers to be seen and marveled at in this basin as well as numerous hot springs and one recently developed mudpot (if it lasts).

 
Clepsydra Geyser spews water at Fountain Paint Pots in the Lower Geyser Basin

NPS photo

Lower Geyser Basin


This large area of hydrothermal activity can be viewed by foot along the boardwalk trail at Fountain Paint Pots and by car along the three mile Firehole Lake Drive. The latter is a one-way drive where you will find the sixth geyser predicted by the Old Faithful staff: Great Fountain. Its splashy eruptions send jets of diamond droplets bursting 100-200 feet in the air, while waves of water cascade down the raised terraces. Patience is a virtue with this twice-a-day geyser, as the predictions allow a 2 hour +/- window of opportunity.

Fountain Flats Drive departs the Grand Loop Road just south of the Nez Perce picnic area and follows along the Firehole River to a trailhead 1.5 miles distant. From there, the Fountain Freight Road hiking/biking trail continues along the old roadbed giving hikers access to the Sentinel Meadows Trail and the Fairy Falls Trail. Also along this path is the only handicapped-accessible backcountry site in the Old Faithful district at Goose Lake.

 

Midway Geyser Basin

This geyser basin, though small in size compared to its companions along the Firehole River, holds large wonders for the visitor. Excelsior Geyser reveals a gaping crater 200 x 300 feet with a constant discharge of more than 4,000 gallons of water per minute into the Firehole River. Also in this surprising basin is Yellowstone's largest hot springs, Grand Prismatic Spring. This feature is 370 feet in diameter and more than 121 feet in depth.

Lone Star Geyser Basin

This backcountry geyser basin is easily reached by a 5-mile roundtrip hike from the trailhead south of Old Faithful. Lone Star Geyser erupts about every three hours. There is a logbook, located in a cache near the geyser, for observations of geyser times and types of eruptions.

Shoshone Geyser Basin

Shoshone Geyser Basin is reached by a 17-mile roundtrip hike that crosses the Continental Divide at Grant's Pass. This basin has no boardwalks, and extreme caution should be exercised when travelling through it. Trails in the basin must be used. Remote thermal areas, such as this, should be approached with respect, knowledge, and care. Be sure to emphasize personal safety and resource protection when entering a backcountry basin.

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Did You Know?

Fishing Bridge.

You cannot fish from Fishing Bridge. Until 1973 this was a very popular fishing location since the bridge crossed the Yellowstone River above a cutthroat trout spawning area. It is now a popular place to observe fish.