Yellowstone Geysers that Aren’t Old Faithful
Admittedly, we’re on a bit of a Yellowstone kick lately. As one of the nation’s oldest and most popular national parks, not to mention the second largest in the continental United States, Yellowstone offers plenty to talk about. Over 4,000,000 visitors flock to the park each year and you can bet they’re all making a beeline to Old Faithful. And while Old Faithful is incredible, it’s also incredibly popular, welcoming approximately 2,000 guests per eruption. If you’d rather skip those crowds but still want to see some impressive hydrothermal activity, here are five Yellowstone geysers that aren’t Old Faithful.
Here’s a fun fact: Steamboat Geyser is the world’s tallest active geyser. While unpredictable and occasionally years apart, Steamboat’s major eruptions spew water up to 300 feet in the air. Minor phase eruptions are much smaller, reaching between 10 and 40 feet in height. Only Waimangu geyser in New Zealand has had larger eruptions, but not for over 100 years.
The aptly named Riverside Geyser is unique in that it shoots water at a 60-degree angle across the Firehole River. Time your visit right and you might just see a rainbow amid the eruption (no promises you’ll find the pot of gold, though). As of a few years ago, the eruption interval was 6 hours and 20 minutes, give or take half an hour. If you’re super into marmots (the animal, not the gear), this is also a favorite summer hangout for the yellow-bellied variety.
Located near Old Faithful in the Upper Geyser Basin, this impressive geyser has blasts that reach between 150 and 200 feet in the air, making it the world’s tallest predictable geyser. Rather than a steady stream (like Old Faithful), Grand Geyser erupts in bursts, with 1 to 4 bursts per eruption.
Grotto Geyser wins the award for the weirdest shaped cones and is worth a visit just for that alone. Sitting on the bank of the Firehole River, this geyser is one of the most picturesque and predictable geysers in Yellowstone. With 20-minute eruptions occurring about every 6 hours, this geyser shoots water to heights of 75 feet.
Great Fountain Geyser/White Dome Geyser
This Yellowstone geyser is two for the price of one! Located in the Lower Geyser Basin, Great Fountain Geyser’s 45-60 minute eruptions display a pretty impressive series of bursts and “superbursts” that can reach up to 200 feet. While most geysers do experience some periods of irregularity, Great Fountain is fairly dependable. After an eruption, the pool slowly fills over 10-14 hours and then begins to overflow about an hour to an hour and a half before the next eruption.
While you’re waiting for Great Fountain Geyser, watch for eruptions from White Dome Geyser. While it’s normally overshadowed by Great Fountain, White Dome’s 12-foot geyserite cone is the largest in the park. Eruptions could happen in intervals between 15 minutes and three hours, so it’s basically the same schedule as the person coming to fix your dishwasher.
There you have it, five Yellowstone geysers that aren’t Old Faithful! This list is literally 1% of the geysers Yellowstone has to offer. Find a complete list here and see if you can catch a rare eruption of the geysers off the beaten path.
This post was brought to you by Flat Creek Inn.
Breanne Kunz was raised in the Pacific Northwest but grew up spending summers in Idaho and frequently visiting Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. She is a wife and mom who likes to write. She occasionally travels (not as much as she’d like) and always eats.
David L. Sifry, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Dirtsc, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
National Parks Service (n.d.). Hydrothermal Features. Yellowstone National Park. Retrieved March 5, 2023, from https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/hydrothermal-features.htm#geysers