Sunday, July 4, 2010

Artists Paintpots Hike (Yellowstone National Park)

The Artists Paintpots Hike in Yellowstone National Park is a fun short hike the whole family can do together. This is a neat side excursion into the heart of the Gibbons Geyser Basin that I had the opportunity to hike with my family while visiting Yellowstone National Park. By Yellowstone's standards, I don't know if I would actually call it a true hike due to the short nature of the hiking trail, however it is a fun excursion to explore one of the many thermal features in Yellowstone National Park. This is a fun short family friendly hike to one of the many geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park.

Directions to Trailhead: To find the trailhead to hike to the Artist Paintpots in Yellowstone National Park's Gibbon Geyser Basin, you need to drive south from Norris Junction for about 4 miles. Or if you are coming north from Madison Junction it is approximately 9 miles north of the junction. There is signage indicating the turn out to reach the hiking trail and there is a parking lot with plenty of parking to pull into. It is of note that there are no restrooms at the trailhead for the Artists Paintpots Hike. Click Here for a link to an interactive map of Yellowstone National Park. There is an entrance fee for Yellowstone National Park, but no permit is required to hike to the Artists Paintpots in the Gibbons Geyser Basin.

Description of Trail: The hiking trail to the Artists Paintpots is relatively short. The trail leaving the parking area is all dirt until you get to the Artists Paintpot area. When you reach the geothermal feature there is a boardwalk that has been constructed by the national park service so that hikers and visitors do not damage the fragile thermal feature. You will use the boardwalk to hike around the Artists Paintpots area. The hiking trail is wide, flat, and is easy for the whole family to do. The hike skirts the south edge of the massive Gibbon Meadows. You have a chance of seeing elk in this area since elk commonly use Gibbon Meadows to graze. This hiking trail is not as popular as others and is less used than other hiking trails in Yellowstone National Park highlighting thermal features in the park. This is a good option if you are looking to avoid the larger crowds at other thermal features in Yellowstone National Park. The hike is a 1.2 mile loop with minimal elevation gain. While on this hike, make sure to stay on the boardwalk and designated hiking trails, and do not touch any of the fragile hydrothermal features.

Further Thoughts: The hike to the Artists Paintpots in Yellowstone National Park is a fun hike for the family to do together. It is a short fun detour from driving on the grand loop road. It is always amazing to see the thermal features inside Yellowstone National Park. The Artists Paintpots are located three miles south of the Norris Geyser Basin, in the equally large but less active Gibbon Geyser Basin. The most popular thermal feature in the Gibbon Geyser Basin is the Artists Paintpots, which is a group of over 50 springs, geysers, vents and mud pots that exhibit varying shades of blue, grey and brown, and have a range of different textures, with the behavior changing during the year depending on the amount of subterranean water. There are multiple thermal features to see while on this hike. The boardwalk guiding you through the thermal features was is in good condition and allows you to get up close to them.

If you are looking to do more of a backcountry hike in Yellowstone, then this hike is probably not for you. But if you are looking to see more thermal features then this hike is a great one as it is located in the heart of the Gibbon Geyser Basin. Yellowstone National Park is an amazing place with a tremendous amount of wildlife combined with extraordinary thermal features.

Rating: Elevation Gain: Minimal (Easy), Distance: 1.2 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 30 - 45 Minutes.

View Artists Paintpots in a larger map


  1. Hi Brian and Ashley
    I was a NCSU room mate of your Mom's, Brian. I am headed to Yellowstone this Saturday for a week with my nephew Rob (14 years) and my brother Larry and wife Cathy... so I was excited to see your blogging on Yellowstone. Rob is a budding photographer , so he is very excited to get to YNP. I live in Colorado, so you and Ashley need to come out here - use my place as a home base to hike in the region,catch some local bands & brews, and check out our artist community and sculpture park here in Loveland. Trish

  2. Trish,

    Thank you for the comment. Enjoy your time in Yellowstone with family. Yellowstone is truly a beautiful place. I will tell my mom that you commented on our blog. Ashley and I will have to take you up on that offer sometime. I visited one of my college friends that went to college at Boulder a number of years ago and had the opportunity to do some hiking in the flatirons and to visit the Boulder area. Colorado is a beautiful place. Enjoy the trip to Yellowstone!

    Best regards



Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.