Artists' Paintpot Trail

Hot springs produce steam at the base of a hill under a stormy sky.

NPS / Addy Falgoust

Quick Facts
Norris Area

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Information Kiosk/Bulletin Board, Trailhead, Wheelchair Accessible

This is a one-mile (1.6 km) trail that enters a partially burned lodgepole pine forest, then winds across a wet meadow on a boardwalk.

This trail is a short loop. The hydrothermal area has colorful hot springs, mudpots, and small geysers.

Watch out for flying mud. Stay on the trail and boardwalks.


The trail is relatively flat from the parking lot to the hydrothermal features. The trail is over bare ground. There is a mixture of boardwalks and bare ground trails on the lower part of the loop. There are numerous steps and steep grades ascending the back part of the loop to reach the mudpots.

Hydrothermal Features

Hydrothermal features can be grouped into two general categories: those with a great deal of water (hot springs and geysers) and those with limited water (mudpots and fumaroles). This area is known for the mudpots, which put on quite an interesting show of splattering "mud" and a symphony of different sounds.


Mudpots are acidic features with a limited water supply. Some microorganisms use hydrogen sulfide, which rises from deep within the earth, as an energy source. They help convert the gas to sulfuric acid, which breaks down rock to wet clay mud and creates the area’s smell. The pungent odor of rotten eggs is caused by the hydrogen sulfide gas.

Various gases escape through the wet clay mud, causing it to bubble. Mudpot consistency and activity vary with the seasons and precipitation.

Use Caution in Hydrothermal Areas

  • Stay on boardwalks and designated trails.
  • Hydrothermal water can severely burn you.
  • Never run, push, or shove.
  • Supervise children at all times.
  • Do not scratch hydrothermal mats.

You are responsible for your safety.

Think safety, act safely. Yellowstone is a dangerous place.

Yellowstone National Park

Last updated: April 5, 2024