Yellowstone National Park is probably best known for Old Faithful Geyser. Old Faithful erupts approximately every 75 – 90 minutes. But there are so many more geysers and springs in the park. You could spend days exploring all of these features, as long as you can handle the rotten egg, sulphur smell that is around most of these features. The largest concentration of these features in the world is at the Upper Geyser Basin, home of Old Faithful. The Park Rangers post at the welcome center the approximate time of the next eruption so you can sit and wait for it to blow…. Or you could go for a walk along Geyser Hill and see a whole range of geysers and hot springs.
Don’t be that person that just goes and sees Old Faithful. Be bold and take a hike. Get more than 100 feet away from your car. If you aren’t sure where to go and what to see join along with one of the Ranger Programs. We got to Upper Geyser Basin for an 8:30 AM Ranger led hike around Geyser Hill. Ranger John encouraged us to head along toward Beehive Geyser since it was about to erupt. Beehive only erupts about twice a day so we got pretty lucky that we arrived when we did. Once Beehive was done we began our walk with Ranger John.
I HIGHLY recommend doing a Ranger led program. With so many geysers and hot springs here, this is a great program to do. Ranger John brought us by every spot on Geyser Hill and talked about its age, how it erupts, all the cool facts.
I think that Ranger John is also a good luck charm to have around. We managed to see seven geysers erupt before we even thought about getting lunch. Some geysers have indicators that go off before the main eruption. It seemed that whenever Ranger John talked about these, the geyser’s indicator started to go off. You could see a smaller nearby pool fill up or start boiling and then suddenly the main nearby geyser went off.
It’s not just about the geysers though. The hot springs are pretty amazing. The color around the hot spring is an indication of just how hot the water is. If the water is crystal clear blue then it is so hot that bacteria can’t even grow. As you get further from the center the color will be different from the bacteria that can grow at that temperature. The Ranger Walk was so worth the time. Ranger John was very knowledgeable and answered all the questions as best he could that we could throw at him.
When our walk was over we parted ways with Ranger John and our group and headed to Solitary Geyser. Back at the beginning of the 1900s, this was a hot spring that was tapped into to get hot water for a pool/spa at the Old Faithful Hotel. Doing this caused the water level to drop in the hot spring. Eventually, it was realized that this was hurting the hot spring and was stopped. Solitary never really recovered and now is a geyser with small eruptions every 4-8 minutes. I really enjoyed visiting Solitary because it is a short walk off the Geyser Hill boardwalk and away from the crowds.
Eventually, we had enough of the sulphur smell. We headed for shade and some lunch. As much as Old Faithful is popular and we wanted to see it, we wanted to view Grand Prismatic Spring even more. A friend suggested that we take a trail up the slope next to the spring to have a view from above. Unfortunately, it was closed for construction so we braved the crowds on the boardwalk. Grand Prismatic is spectacular. Even if you can only view it from the boardwalk. The colors just pop. I have to warn you that it can be pretty hot there. Depending on the direction of the wind, hot steam may blow on you as you walk along the boardwalk. It won’t burn you, but you will most likely want water when you get back to the car.
I admit we didn’t go see more of the mud pots, hot springs, and geysers because we had enough of the smell. Later on, in our trip, we did visit the Mammoth Hot Springs but didn’t get out and walk around. We also had a priority to do some hikes in the park which meant giving up some of the tourist attractions.