We saw Old Faithful the evening before we hiked Upper Geyser Basin, just so we had plenty of time to hike around the other geysers and springs in Upper Geyser Basin. Old Faithful was cool to watch but crowded. The parking lot and visitor center is also really crowded but once you get away from it and on the trail it’s not bad at all.
The University of Montana has a website that lists when all of the major geysers erupt and it would be a good tool if you looked it up somewhere before you got to the park. Fair warning, the internet and phone service in Yellowstone is awful, like no signal at all for days on end. The only place we had decent phone service was at an ice cream shop at Mammoth.
We started on the west side of the 4 1/2 mile loop. It’s a mixture of paved surface and boardwalk and is wheelchair accessible.
The first big geyser you come to is Castle Geyser, which does sort of look like a castle. It bubbles and steams all the time and then erupts every 10-12 hours. This will erupt water and steam 90 feet in the air and lasts about 20 minutes followed by a 40 minute steam phase. It is a very old geyser, estimated at 5,000 to 15,000 years. It would be worth coming back for.
After that you pass Shield Spring, and soon you come to Daisy Geyser. We were lucky and it started erupting right as we walked up to it. It erupts every 110 to 240 minutes and only lasts 3 to 5 minutes so it’s really just a matter of luck. This is one of the most (maybe the most) predictable geysers in the park, along with Riverside and Old Faithful.
The boardwalk winds around Daisy geyser through some seeping springs. You walk past Comet Geyser, Spa Geyser, Spiteful Geyser, Grotto Geyser, and then eventually you get to the best part of the walk, Morning Glory Pool!
Morning Glory Pool
Morning Glory Pool is still beautiful but unfortunately people have been throwing trash into it for years and it’s slowly clogging its vent. The spring is turning more greenish brown but it used to be aqua blue.
Park personnel have to clean the pool out every year but they can’t keep up with the amount of trash being thrown into it. Sounds like a good volunteer opportunity if you ask me. I know there are thousands of people who want to volunteer for the National Parks when they retire and I know they would be honored to stand and guard the pool, give talks, help with park info, etc.
After Morning Glory we started back on the east side of the loop. There is a small side loop that goes to Riverside Geyser, and it started erupting right as we walked up. That was sheer luck. The geyser only erupts every 5 1/2-7 hours, erupting steam and water up to 75 feet. Lucky us! It is such a beautiful sight. It lasts a long time, about a half hour. It lasted so long we eventually left before it finished. I think this was more impressive than Old Faithful but thankfully there was hardly anybody else around so we weren’t dealing with those crowds. Apparently it starts overflowing into the Firehole River for 1 1/2-2 hours before it erupts.
You walk past Grotto Geyser again (it’s a really cool looking one) and then Giant Geyser. I would have loved to see Grotto Geyser erupt but it only erupts every eight hours, and apparently we missed Giant Geyser erupting by a few minutes. So maybe next time we’ll get to see them.
Chromatic Spring is one of the more brightly colored pools on the path above Old Faithful.
There are a bunch of smaller geysers, springs, and pools that you pass as you wind your way through on the walkways up above Old Faithful. I didn’t photograph them all because there were just so many. Spasmodic Geyser is one of the prettiest ones and can erupt up to 15 feet high. It erupts every 1-3 hours but we didn’t get to see it.
The view of the river valley from the Upper Geyser Basin walk is really beautiful.
Old Faithful was erupting as we got back to the big visitor center area. We ate at the cafeteria, walked around in the gift shop and visitor center, had ice cream, etc. There are a couple places to get ice cream cones and coffee and the cafeteria serves beer, wine, energy drinks, and a lot of decent snacks and meals. I thought the whole area was really well done and had all the amenities you could ask for. When I come back for another visit I will definitely try to stay at the Old Faithful Lodge because it’s located right in the middle of so many good sites and walking trails.