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I am a Denver-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Hiking at Old Faithful in Yellowstone

Watching Old Faithful erupt

Watching Old Faithful erupt

Hiking in Yellowstone is a fantastic experience. It’s one of the best ways to spend time in the park. Heck, you could even say it’s the quintessential park experience. But, with so much to see and do in the world’s first national park, it’s hard to squeeze everything in. So, where to go hiking? One of my favorite spots is at Old Faithful.

A map of the geyser basin around Old Faithful

A map of the geyser basin around Old Faithful

When you walk out from the lodge, a row of benches and Old Faithful himself should be right there to greet you. If it’s almost time for him to blow, hang out and watch. It’s one of the best park experiences. If not, hang a right and head toward and cross over the Firehole River en route to Observation Point.

Crossing the Firehole River

Crossing the Firehole River

The trail to the top is somewhat steep, so go slow and take your time. But keep going. The view from the top is spectacular. Laid out before you in an opening in the trees that covered the trail all the way to the top is the geyser basin. And it’s one heck of a view, too.

The view of the geyser basin around Old Faithful

The view of the geyser basin around Old Faithful from Observation Point

Stop, take some deep breaths, and wait for Old Faithful if you can. When you’re done, continue following the trail. It loops back around and reconnects with a spot where you diverged to go up to Observation Point. You can go back the way you came, on down to the river and the lodge, but I highly recommend against it. Instead, hang a right and head toward the Solitary Geyser.

The Solitary Geyser is one of my favorite spots in Yellowstone. It doesn’t have a huge eruption like Old Faithful or some of the other geysers down below, but it’s quite a bit more frequent. At an interval of only five to seven minutes, the Solitary Geyser makes for a fun eruption – it’s like one great big burp of a splash of water five feet in the air. That’s it. From calm to a huge slash of water to calm again. It’s really something to see, and a great spot for a picnic since you’ll be regularly entertained.

Solitary Geyser erupts

Solitary Geyser erupts

Continue following the trail back down toward the geyser basin. You’ll know you’ve arrived, since the trail quickly turns over into a boardwalk or paved road. And if that’s not enough, just look for the visitor traffic. The number of people who walk this area is insane. But, there’s a reason it’s one of the most popular spots in the park, and why I chose it as one of my favorite trails in Yellowstone.

Wandering through all of the geysers, pools, vents, and other amazing geothermal features is really amazing. It’s the reason a great many people go to Yellowstone each year. So be sure to slow down, take it easy, and see what there is to see. After all, since the eruptions of many of the geysers can’t be timed like Old Faithful, you never know when you’ll have an amazing experience shoot up out of the ground.

Castle Geyser generally erupts twice per day

Castle Geyser generally erupts twice per day

I was fortunate enough to witness the long eruption of the Castle Geyser. It only goes two times a day, so there’s no saying you’ll be lucky enough to catch it. And that’s still a pretty frequent eruption for a geyser. Some are estimated at yearly intervals. For instance, just recently the Steamboat Geyser erupted for the first time in eight years! Now that’s some serious patience.

Speaking of patience, you need a little to walk all the way down to the Morning Glory Pool. It’s only a mile and a half away from the lodge, but, when combined with the nearly two miles of hiking already done up and around observation point, it can be a tiring walk. This is particularly true on a hot and sunny day, since there’s very little shade throughout the geyser basin. All of the gases and acids in the ground have killed off a lot of the flora. But, to be quite honest, the walk is worth it; Morning Glory remains one of the most beautiful features in the park.

Crossing the Firehole River en route to Morning Glory

Crossing the Firehole River en route to Morning Glory

When it’s all said and done – up to Observation Point, to the Solitary Geyser, out to Morning Glory and back – you’ll have racked up nearly six miles. That’s not a lot of ground to cover, all things considered, but, like I said, it’s fairly difficult, since most of the trails aren’t shaded. Sure, they may be flat and easy to manage, but be sure to take the proper precautions; sunscreen, hats, and lots of water are all necessary when doing this hike.

The beautiful Morning Glory Pool

The beautiful Morning Glory Pool

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  1. The Ghosts of Christmas 2013 | Jason's Travels - December 24, 2013

    […] up that way before, but never appreciated it so much as this time. The abundance of wildlife and opportunities for hiking made it all worthwhile. It was exactly what I both wanted and needed after a few months in the […]

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