Old Faithful is Yellowstone’s most famous attraction, and the most famous geyser in the world. But it’s just one small part of the Old Faithful area. There’s an easily accessible boardwalk leading past all sorts of interesting thermal features. In addition to myriad geysers, there are vents, pots, and colorful bubbling pools. Some of the geysers have built up strange sculptures of minerals.

Old Faithful, the star of the show.
Old Faithful, the star of the show.

As I’ve said before, Yellowstone is like many parks in one. Anywhere else in the world, this incredible area would be it’s own national park. But this isn’t the only, or even the best geyser basin in Yellowstone. However, being the most famous, it is a must-see.

There's more to see than Old Faithful.
There’s more to see than Old Faithful.

Over-, and Under-Development

Fame has its drawback, though. This is where the crowds flock, and the infrastructure has been built up here to support them. There’s a suburban-style highway interchange, gigantic parking lots, and way too many big buildings for a national park. It feels like Disney World. Taking pictures that don’t include the boardwalks that go everywhere is a challenge.

This geyser has built up a strange sculpture.
This geyser has built up a strange sculpture.

And despite all the over-development, there is no cell phone service or wifi here. A repeated frustration I had in the parks is that the National Park Service has built roads everywhere, yet they won’t put a single cell phone tower in the most developed parts of the parks. The National Park Service was quick to embrace the automobile. Whey are they so slow to embrace the technologies of the twenty-first century?

There are many colorful pools in the Old Faithful geyser basin.
There are many colorful pools in the Old Faithful geyser basin.

But don’t let these negatives stop you from visiting. It’s one of the most incredible places in the world. Most people don’t make it past Old Faithful, so a short walk down the boardwalk is all it takes to get away from the crowds.

Punch Bowl Spring
Punch Bowl Spring

Old Faithful Tips

This is the most popular part of the park, so either get here early, or come late. It’s one of the most predictable geysers, and the next expected eruption time is clearly posted, so you can easily plan your visit. Some of the other geysers are more spectacular, so it’s worth waiting if they ere expected to erupt soon. A few hours is enough time to walk around the board walks, but you probably won’t get lucky and see a geyser erupting. It’s better to devote at least a half day to this area so you can wait for geysers to erupt. Besides Old Faithful, most of the geysers aren’t able to be predicted as accurately, so you might have to wait around a bit. But it’s worth it to see a big eruption.

The whole place is steaming with thermal activity.
The whole place is steaming with thermal activity.
Terry
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

One thought on “The Old Faithful geyser basin

  1. Wow, this is absolutely amazing! I can’t believe I haven’t been…but I will definitely need to visit soon! Thanks for sharing your experience!

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