There’s something to be said when you’re sitting on a bench, waiting for Old Faithful to erupt. The anticipation builds as the time gets closer and closer. You can practically feel everyone hold their breath when Old Faithful’s about to erupt. And then, in a burst of steam and a geyser of boiling water, Old Faithful is going, and going strong.
It’s a real rush watching that iconic geyser erupt, but Yellowstone National Park isn’t all about Old Faithful. In fact, Old Faithful is only one of more than three hundred other geysers. And there are even geysers that are more reliable than Old Faithful. How will you find it? By heading out into the park and exploring.
Yellowstone National Park is truly a wonder to visit. It’s home to almost half of the world’s hydrothermal features (like hot springs, geysers, mud pots, etc.), and the wildlife there is just as popular as Old Faithful. The rugged beauty of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and the majestic Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River make a strong argument for some competition. There are other places to visit in Yellowstone, and they are all worth it.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs is home to the incredible Travertine Terraces. These are the beautiful chalky white terraces where the hot springs fall down, waterfall into waterfall. It’s an incredible experience, even if Mammoth is a bit out of the way. You’ll also be able to visit the historic Fort Yellowstone. This is where soldiers from the US Army were stationed. In 1886, soldiers occupied Yellowstone to help protect the park from poachers, vandals, and even squatters. You’ll also find plenty of sight-seeing opportunities around Mammoth Hot Springs.
Norris Geyser Basin
This area is incredible to explore and experience. It’s a dynamic thermal hotspot, largely because it rests on the intersection of three major fault lines. The entire area can experience large changes in thermal activity, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. Norris will pretty much be different every time you visit, making this an exciting place to explore. Norris Geyser Basin is home to the famous, yet rarely erupting, Steamboat Geyser. Steamboat is the tallest geyser in the world, reaching almost 400 feet in the air.
Home to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, this is one place you won’t want to miss. The incredible colors of the canyon rocks are due to erosion and the effects of hydrothermal activity. There are still geysers and hot springs active in the area. The combination of minerals and hydrothermal activity increased the rate of erosion in the canyon, which is why it was formed so quickly, at least in geological time.
West Thumb and Grant Village
This is a unique area, consisting of the West Thumb Geyser Basin. It’s the largest geyser basin along the shores of Yellowstone Lake. The source of the thermal energy for these features is actually incredibly close to the surface, being only 10,000 feet down. This area of the Yellowstone Lake was created by the volcanic explosion and creation of the caldera. This is only a smaller caldera, within the greater Yellowstone caldera.
While there is little, if any, thermal activity present in this area, the mountains themselves were created as the result of ancient volcanic activity. Now, this is a beautiful area that’s perfect for horseback riding, a ride on a stage coach, or just enjoying the day hiking out in nature. You’ll want to check out the petrified trees here in Specimen Ridge.
While Old Faithful isn’t the only attraction or area in Yellowstone, it is a big draw. And watching that geyser erupt is incredible, so missing out on this spot would be a bad idea. You can also explore the Old Faithful Inn, which is the just one of a few log hotels that remains in the United States. The hotel was expanded throughout the years, and today has 327 guest rooms. That’s right, you can spend the night at Old Faithful in the incredible Old Faithful Inn. Nearby, you’ll find the Upper Geyser Basin, home to the greatest number of geysers in the park. It’s worth checking out, considering that Yellowstone has over half of the world’s geysers.