Old Faithful and Other Awesome Geysers of Yellowstone
The Old Faithful Geyser is one of the most famous attractions in the U.S. Almost every visitor to Yellowstone National Park comes to see the Old Faithful erupt. If you are looking for summer family vacation ideas, Yellowstone should be at the top of your list. The Old Faithful Geyser is located in the Upper Geyser Basin which is home to the majority of the world's active geysers. The geyser received its name because of its frequent and regular eruptions. The interval between eruptions varies from 45 to 120 minutes. Each eruption lasts 1.5 to 5 minutes during which boiling water is shot up to 180 feet into the air. While we stayed at Old Faithful Inn we observed several Old Faithful Geyser eruptions, which varied greatly in height.
While most Yellowstone visitors only see the Old Faithful, there are numerous other beautiful geysers just steps away. The Upper Geyser Basin features an elaborate system of boardwalks which allow visitors to admire geysers, pools and other features from a safe distance. During the peak season from June to August, the area is saturated with tour buses and cars. Everybody stops at the Old Faithful Inn to see its impressive 7-storey lobby, shop at the gift shop, check on geyser eruption predictions and eat lunch.
The Old Faithful area includes a park visitor center, Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Old Faithful Lodge & Cabins. While everybody lines up to watch the Old Faithful geyser erupt, fewer people decide to explore the area on foot. This area features numerous other spectacular geysers and other thermal features, connected by a boardwalk which allows visitors to enjoy the sights from a safe distance. In the summer, be sure to wear sunscreen, a hat and drink plenty of water.
Wildlife frequents the Old Faithful area, attracted by the warmth of thermal features during the cold nights. It is important to keep a safe distance and follow all ranger warnings to make your vacation a safe one. Some of the must-see attractions include the Geyser Hill, the Grand Geyser and the Castle Geyser. Read our article on the Scenic Drives of Yellowstone and the Secrets of Yellowstone's West Thumb Geyser Basin Revealed.
1. Geyser Hill
Geyser Hill, located in the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park, features several active geysers and colorful thermal pools. A boardwalk leads up from the Old Faithful Geyser to Geyser Hill. Geyser Hill attractions include the Anemone Geyser, Beehive Geyser, Lion Group and the Heart Spring.
Four geysers, known as the Lion Group, include Little Cub, Lioness, Big Cub, and Lion. The group received its name from the roaring sounds that announces an eruption. Lion geyser, which has the largest cone, erupts up to 80 feet high for up to 7 minutes. The Lion Group is set on top of the Geyser Hill overlooking Firehole River.
2. Anemone Geyser
Anemone Geyser, located just steps from the Old Faithful Geyser erupts every 7-15 minutes. During a typical cycle, water begins to fill the pool. As it overflows, large bubbles rise to the surface, followed by a 10-foot eruption. The water then drains back into the vent and the cycle repeats.
3. Beehive Geyser
When active, Beehive Geyser draws a large audience because of the height of its eruptions which reach from 130 to 180 feet. Beehive Geyser can be dormant for long periods. When it is active, it erupts once or twice per day for about 5 minutes. Stop at the Old Faithful visitor center for current eruption predictions.
4. Heart Spring
Heart Spring is a colorful pool located in the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. Blue in the middle, the pool has a colorful rim where heat-loving microorganisms have found their home. Sometimes Castle Geyser can be seen erupting in the background.
5. Castle Geyser
When the Castle Geyser is erupting, it is one of the more distinguishing features of the Upper Geyser Basin landscape in Yellowstone National Park. If you follow the boardwalk from Old Faithful up to the Chromatic and Beauty Pools, the Castle Geyser is situated across the Firehole River. The Castle Geyser erupts every 11 to 13 hours and reaches 75 feet in height. The eruption lasts about 20 minutes.
6. Chromatic and Beauty Pools
Chromatic and Beauty Pools are closely related to each other. As the water level in one pool rises, is descends in the other. Beauty Pool frequently changes in color as the water temperature changes. It is at its brightest when the temperature is hot, and turns brown at lower temperatures as brown-colored microorganisms thrive in the water.
7. Grand Geyser
Grand Geyser is the tallest predictable geyser in the world and was without a doubt one of the highlights of our trip to Yellowstone. It erupts up to 200 feet high for 9-12 minutes. Before each eruption, the pools fill with water and people usually start to gather on the benches facing the geyser. You can also get the predictions for upcoming eruptions at the visitor center. Grand Geyser is a classic fountain geyser that erupts with powerful bursts, usually between 1 and 4 during an eruption. When we were there, people started to leave after the first burst and came running back as the second burst followed.
8. Giant Geyser
Giant Geyser was dormant for a long time and is slowly becoming more active, although its eruptions are unpredictable. Seeing Giant Geyser erupt is a rare and spectacular event since the eruption can reach 250 feet in height. During a Giant Geyser eruption, which lasts about one hour, smaller geysers on the same sinter platform also begin to erupt.
9. The Grotto Geyser
The Grotto Geyser erupts in about seven-hour intervals 10 feet into the air. The eruption lasts from 1.5 to more than 10 hours! The Grotto Geyser is located in the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park.
10. Firehole River
As you stroll on the boardwalk of the Upper Geyser Basin from the Old Faithful Geyser to the Biscuit Basin, Firehole River follows along, contributing to the surreal scenery of this area with its erupting geysers, steam rising from hot pools and beautiful views. Riverside Geyser, set on the banks of Firehole River, erupts 75 feet high over the river every six hours. One a sunny day, a rainbow can be spotted in the spray of the geyser.
11. The Great Fountain Geyser
The Great Fountain Geyser, located in the Lower Geyser Basin about 9 miles north of the Old Faithful area, features one of the most spectacular eruption displays in Yellowstone National Park, especially if you go at sunset like we did. The geyser is situated on the one-way Firehole Lake Drive. The central cone of the Great Fountain Geyser is set in the middle of several circular pools filled with water. During an eruption, water shoots more than 200 feet high. The visitor center at the Old Faithful Inn provides visitors with Great Fountain Geyser eruption predictions.
Great Fountain Geyser erupts in a series of bursts which are spaced several minutes apart. If the area around the geyser is crowded with people, do not despair. Most leave after the first set of bursts which last about 10 minutes because they think the eruption is over. If you wait five minutes or so, a second set of bursts will follow and you will have the geyser pretty much to yourself.