Friday, August 9, 2013

Upper Geyser Basin (Yellowstone National Park)

The Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park is a great hiking location that allows you the chance to see some of the most well known geysers in Yellowstone National Park. The Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular areas in Yellowstone National Park because of the large number of geysers that are located near the paths and hiking trails. The most popular geyser in this area is, of course, Old Faithful. But some of the other well known geysers are Castle Geyser, Beehive Geyser, and Riverside Geyser (Pictured Above).  For more pictures of the Upper Geyser Basin, make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: To hike at the Upper Geyser Basin, from inside Yellowstone National Park drive 16 miles south of Madison Junction or 17 miles west of West Thumb and take the Old Faithful exit. Park in the area by the Historic Old Faithful Inn. You can follow the signs that direct you to the visitor center where there is additional parking. The visitor center has predicted eruption times of a number of geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin. Click Here for an interactive map of Yellowstone National Park. There is an entrance fee for Yellowstone National Park, but no permit is required to hike at the Upper Geyser Basin.

Description of Hike: The Upper Geyser Basin Hiking Trail in Yellowstone National Park is well maintained by the National Park Service and it goes through one of the densest locations of thermal features in the park. The Upper Geyser Basin contains 180 of the parks roughly 250 geysers. You can make a number of different loops on your hike through the Upper Geyser Basin with mileage that ranges from 1 to 7 miles, all with relatively minimal elevation gain. Boardwalks, footpaths, trails, and a cycling paths along the Firehole River link the 5 distinct geyser groups in this area. When you are hiking in the Upper Geyser Basin do not expect to be alone, as there will be a number of visitors/hikers on the trails here trying to catch a glimpse of Yellowstone's geysers.

Make sure to pick up a map of the geysers in the area from the visitor center. The Old Faithful Visitor Center has a bookstore and information about the geysers located in the Upper Geyser Basin. Also make sure to get the predicted eruption times for the major geysers from the visitor center/Old Faithful Hotel if you are looking to see geysers erupt. All hikes in the Upper Geyser Basin should begin by watching the eruption of Old Faithful. Additionally, make sure to check the schedules of the predicted geyser eruptions that way you can plan your hike.

Old Faithful (Pictured Right) erupts roughly every 90 minutes and spouts up approximately 8,000 gallons of water up to 180 feet into the air. Old Faithful is not the tallest nor the most predictable geyser in the park, but it is considered the tallest predictable geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Historically, the time between eruptions has varied between 45 minutes and 110 minutes, with the average Old Faithful eruption lasting approximately 4 minutes. In addition to Old Faithful, the Upper Geyser Basin also has four other predictable geysers which are monitored for eruption times by the Park Service; Castle GeyserGrand GeyserDaisy Geyser, and Riverside Geyser.

Castle Geyser (Pictured Left) has a 10 to 12 hour eruption cycle. The geyser erupts hot water for about 20 minutes in a vertical column that reaches a height of 90 feet before changing to a noisy steam phase that issues for 30 to 40 minutes. Grand Geyser erupts every 7 to 15 hours and can reach a height of 200 feet. It belongs to the Grand Group (or Grand Geyser Complex), and its eruption is connected to those of the other geysers in the group, especially the adjacent Vent Geyser and Turban Geyser. For a few hours before an eruption by Grand, Turban Geyser erupts for a duration of five minutes about every 20 minutes. Grand's eruption begins within 1 to 2 minutes of one of Turban's eruptions with Vent Geyser erupting shortly after Grand. Daisy Geyser erupts every 110 to 240 minutes for a period of 3 to 5 minutes and is one of the most predictable geysers in the park. Its fountain erupts at an angle to the ground and reaches a height of 75 feet. The interval between eruptions can be temporarily altered by an eruption of nearby Splendid Geyser. Riverside Geyser shoots steam and water to heights of 75 feet in an arch over the Firehole River, sometimes causing brilliant rainbows. The eruptions occur every 51⁄2 to 7 hours. Riverside Geyser is one of the most predictable geysers in the park, because it is not located near any other geysers that may disrupt the flow of underground water in the geyser's plumbing.

Another Geyser we have seen erupt the last two time we visited this area was Beehive Geyser (Pictured Right). Eruptions of Beehive Geyser last about 5 minutes and are 200 feet high. The fountain maintains its full height for the duration of the eruption, dropping just slightly near the end. A roaring steam phase concludes the eruption and can be heard a quarter-mile away. The interval between eruptions range from 8 hours to one day during the summer. Winter eruptions are very erratic. There are occasions in both summer and winter that there are a series of eruptions that are quite regular. These eruptions have an interval of 10 to 20 hours with longer intervals near the end of the series. As of summer 2009 Beehive was having predictable eruptions every 11 to 14 hrs.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed our hike at the Upper Geyser Basin. We saw a total of 4 geysers erupt while visiting here, Old Faithful Geyser, Riverside Geyser, Beehive Geyser, and Castle Geyser. If you time your hike at the Upper Geyser Basin just right you can view multiple geysers erupting. If you are staying in the Historic Old Faithful Inn, then you have a great opportunity to view many geyser eruptions.

There are a number of Geysers in Yellowstone National Park that have spectacular eruptions, with so far Riverside Geyser and Beehive Geyser being our favorite. The Yellowstone Visitor Center has a lot of information on the Geysers and should be visited before your hike in the Upper Geyser Basin. Note: on the Google Map below we have only highlighted 5 geysers, however, there are many other geysers and additional thermal features along many portions of the Upper Geyser Basin Hike Trail. Make sure to take your time while hiking here. It will not be as quick as other hikes because you will spend time waiting for geysers to erupt and enjoying the beauty of Yellowstone National Park's thermal features.

Rating: Elevation Gain: Minimal (Easy), Distance: 1 - 7 Miles Roundtrip (Easy - Moderate).

Time to Complete Hike: Varies depending on length of hike and geyser eruptions.


August 9, 2013 (This Post)


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