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The geysers of Yellowstone Park, Wisconsin

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lindamura's pictureby lindamura review
added on 11th of March, 2008
The following content has been provided generously by the Geyser Guru David Monteith, whatever you see here about Yellowstone Park Geysers is nothing compared to the content available over at his website at If you also feel like you have a few things that will help others planning their travel, please contact us at

Instead of showing you all information about Yellowstone Park, we decided to simply inform you about geysers. Whoever has been to Yellowstone before, knows what a great wild life there is. To me the obsidian cliff as well as the lime stone terases were also among the most impressive. Geysers are powerful and amazing as well so please read on and be amazed of the spectacular power of nature found only in a few places in the world.

The Top Three - Geyser Areas

In my opinion the three "must-sees", in their order of importance, are The Upper Geyser Basin (home to Old Faithful Geyser), the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Fountain Paint Pot Trail. These areas are described below:

1. OLD FAITHFUL and the UPPER GEYSER BASIN: Of course, everyone goes to see Old Faithful but few walk even the short distance needed to cross the river and see Geyser Hill and even less spend time in the rest of the geyser basin. Please plan to spend some time in this area - there is a lot more to see than just Old Faithful!

This one square mile basin is home to hundreds of geysers and some very pretty hot springs. Take your time and explore. Sit, relax and watch some of the geysers. Only by taking your time can you experience Yellowstone's unique thermal wonders.

The must-see geyser is Grand. Eruption predictions for this and a few other geysers are posted in the Old Faithful Visitor Center. Grand is the largest predictable geyser in the world. It is larger and lasts longer than Old Faithful. More importantly, it is very spectacular and quite pretty. Unfortunately, Grand can not be predicted as accurately as Old Faithful so some waiting is required. It is well worth the wait. The other predicted geysers are also worth seeing but not at the risk of missing Grand.

If you are interested in seeing some of the other geysers, first, check the geyser predictions at the Old Faithful Visitor Center. Then talk to the rangers staffing the visitor center. "The Geysers Of Yellowstone" by T. Scott Bryan (available in the visitor centers) is a great source of geyser information. This book gives the characteristics of hundreds of geysers and information on what to look for before an eruption. The book is especially helpful if you want to see some of the geysers that are not predicted at the visitor center. Predictions are posted for only seven of the hundreds of geysers in the park.

The predicted geysers, with some of their current (1995) characteristics, are listed below. All are worth seeing. Some of the predicted geysers only erupt a few times per day and have prediction ranges of an hour or more. Thus, to see a particular geyser, you should show up at the beginning of its predicted range and wait. The two geysers that USUALLY require the least waiting are Old Faithful and Daisy.

Grand - Usually erupts every 8 - 12 hours. The eruption lasts about 12 minutes. It will often stop after about 9 minutes and then restart after a minute or so. This second "burst" and any subsequent bursts are among the tallest if not the tallest of the eruption. Be sure to wait and see if there is a second burst.

Daisy - Usually erupts every 90 - 110 minutes and is very predictable. The eruption lasts about 3 - 4 minutes. I like the view from the side away from Old Faithful.

Riverside - Usually erupts every 5.5 - 7 hours. The water phase of the eruption lasts about 20 minutes and is followed by a 30 minute steam phase.

Castle - Usually erupts every 9 - 11 hours. The twenty minute water phase of a major eruption is followed by a 40 minute steam phase. The first 15 minutes of the steam phase is relatively forceful and fairly loud so try to be close for this part. Castle sometimes has minor eruptions which last only a few minutes. When it has a minor eruption, Castle becomes unpredictable until it has its next major eruption.

Great Fountain (located 8 miles north of Old Faithful on Firehole Lake Drive) - Usually erupts about every 10 hours in a series of distinct bursts that occur over a period of an hour. The first 10 minutes are the most spectacular.

Old Faithful - erupts every 35 - 120 minutes for 1.5 - 5 minutes. The rangers say that 90% of their predictions are within /- 10 minutes. The time to the next eruption is predicted using the duration of the current eruption. The longer the eruption lasts, the longer the interval until the next eruption. For instance, a 2 minute eruption results in an interval of about 50 minutes and a 4.5 minute eruption results in an interval of about 85 minutes. It is not possible to predict more than one eruption in advance. Old Faithful is deceiving. The benches around the geyser are over 300 feet from the geyser but with nothing to judge the distance by, I rarely realize just how big the geyser is until I get further away. I like the view from Geyser Hill. As with any geyser, watch the wind direction or you may only see steam.

Consider taking a ranger led walk. These walks are usually informative and fun for children and adults. Rangers often route their "geyser walks" so that you will get to see some geysers erupt. You can find out about scheduled walks at the Old Faithful Visitor Center.

2. GRAND CANYON of the YELLOWSTONE: Most of the scenery in Yellowstone is on an intimate scale but this is not true of the canyon. The canyon has a grand scenic scale that is spectacular. The colorful canyon walls and waterfalls are beautiful and worth exploring.

You can get an interpretive pamphlet about the canyon at the Canyon Visitor Center located in Canyon Village. The pamphlet also describes some of the trails in the area.

To tour the canyon first take the North Rim Drive stopping at each lookout and then cross the river and go out to Artist Point and take the short walk to the lookout. This will leave the most spectacular overlook until the last. The must-see lookout is at Artist Point.

I recommend the walk down to the lip of the Lower Falls. The Red Rock Trail is almost as nice. I do not recommend Uncle Tom's Trail. There are also trails along both rims of the canyon. The rim trails can get you away from the crowds.

A nice water fall, Crystal Falls, can be seen along the north rim trail between the Lower Falls and Upper Falls. It is best during high runoff.

3. FOUNTAIN PAINT POT TRAIL: This short 1/2 mile loop trail is located in the Lower Geyser Basin. On the short walk you get to see good examples of most types of thermal features in the park including hot pools, mud pots, fumaroles and geysers. At least one geyser is usually erupting here at all times.


BLACK SAND BASIN: This basin near the Old Faithful overpass has some pretty hot pools.

MIDWAY GEYSER BASIN: This has two of the largest thermal features in the park. Grand Prismatic pool is the largest in the park and is very colorful. On a warm day you can get a good view of the basin by scrambling up the hill located across the road from the parking lot. The view is worth the effort.

LOWER GEYSER BASIN: This is the most extensive basin in the park covering about 11 square miles. It is home to the Fountain Paint Pots (see above), Fountain Flat Drive (sometimes a good place to see bison and other wildlife), Firehole Lake Drive and many geysers and hot springs.

Located along Firehole Lake Drive are many geysers including Great Fountain (eruption predictions posted at the Old Faithful Visitor Center and in the summer at the geyser), a number of hot pools and the 3 Senses Nature Trail.

Great Links: - Where this content was taken from and where you will find plenty more of it. - Official Yellowstone Page

Things about Yellowstone you may be interested in

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National Parks in the United States - overview

1. Mar 10, 2008 Useful facts about Zion National Park, UT (Springdale)  (* 1)
2. Mar 12, 2008 The geysers of Yellowstone Park (Yellowstone)  (* 1)

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