Yellowstone National Park Geysers and Thermal Features

At Yellowstone National Park there are around 500 geysers and over 10,000 thermal features! There are more geysers at Yellowstone than anywhere else on Earth. One of the best walks to see many of the pools, springs and geysers is the Upper Geyser Basin right near the Old Faithful Inn. I love this map of the area:

upper-geyser-basin-map

When we visited in 2014, Craig and I walked the whole Upper Geyser Basin, past Morning Glory Pool, through the woods to Biscuit Basin. It took about three hours round trip. We stopped to take pictures, videos and to sit near the Firehole River for a snack. Be sure and take your bear spray. We did not see many people past Morning Glory Pool.

There will be geyser eruption times posted at the Old Faithful Inn and the Visitor Center. There is also an NPS App you can download that will give you several possible eruption times. Sometimes, you will luck out while walking and see a group of “Geyser Gazers” that may be waiting by a certain thermal feature. They keep the rangers up to date on what might be ready to erupt. We got to see Beehive Geyser shoot 200 feet in the air! The rangers also give free walks and talks around the geyser basins during the day and evenings. 

Do not forget Norris Geyser Basin, Black Sand Basin, Midway Geyser Basin, the Lower Geyser Basin and Firehole Lake Drive. West Thumb Geyser Basin is also unique because it is next to Yellowstone Lake. I love the Fishing Cone hot spring where in the past people would catch a fish in the cold lake and then cook it in the spring!  Be careful! When you get past Morning Glory Pool, you are able to walk right next to some of the thermal features. The boardwalks can also get very crowded at peak times. Near Grand Prismatic Spring was usually packed. Stay on marked trails. What geysers have you seen erupt at Yellowstone?  Sometimes you will catch a surprise eruption!

 


Where Should I Stay in Yellowstone?

When I first started researching a Yellowstone National Park trip, I was not aware of how many hotels, lodges and cabins there were at the park. I only really knew about the Old Faithful Inn. The park is very large, and driving to each section can take a long time. You want to stop and see the sights and there may be traffic jams due to animals on the roads. It is not safe to drive when it is dark because you may hit an animal. You do not want to hit an elk or buffalo!

About a year ahead, I started to research the different areas and concentrate on what we wanted to see the most. We decided to split our time between the Old Faithful area, Mammoth Hot Springs, Roosevelt and Lake.  Reservations open May 1st for the next summer. If you want an Old Faithful Inn room with a bathroom, a Roosevelt Lodge cabin with a bathroom or a Mammoth hot tub cabin, you must book ASAP. Xanterra runs the hotels and lodges at Yellowstone. You want to book through their web site or call them directly.  Here are some pictures of the different locations and what is near them.

The Old Faithful Inn area is very crowded during the day. Around the hotel and Old Faithful were the most crowds we saw the whole trip. A short walk away, the Upper Geyser Basin was much less crowded. At nighttime a ton of people also cleared out. We held a room in the old house section of the Inn. It had a sink, but shared bathrooms down the hall. The bathrooms were very clean and the shower stalls had shower gels and shampoo in them. The Inn is beautiful and they do give tours during the day so you can learn the history.

The Mammoth area is near the North Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs. Mammoth Village has a hotel, cabins, a post office, visitor center, chapel and restaurants. Historic Fort Yellowstone is here and there is a walking tour you can do.  Elk are often seen in this area.  We stayed in a hot tub cabin and it was nice after walking all day.

One of our favorite locations was the Roosevelt Lodge and Cabins. Roughrider Cabins are basic and have a stove for heat. This location is near Lamar Valley and the Northeast Entrance. You would get to the Beartooth Highway from this entrance. You can sign up for the Cowboy Cookout during the summer and ride a horse from the Roosevelt Stables or take a stagecoach! The Lamar Valley is beautiful and a great place to watch for bears and wolves. If you want a cabin with a bathroom, you have to book on May 1st for the next summer. There are only about 14 of these cabins! Otherwise there are shared bathrooms.

The next area we stayed in was near Lake Yellowstone. There are several nice hikes near Lake. You can take boats out or go on a guided Lake cruise. The Lake Hotel rooms are refurbished and expensive, but there are also bright yellow cabins here. Lake Lodge is next door and more rustic. There are cabins in this area as well. You can walk over to the Lake Hotel’s dining room. This is a good spot to get to Hayden Valley and The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone as well. There is a nice large laundry area at the Lake Lodge.    

I hope this gives you some info on where to start planning. There are other areas to stay at near Canyon and Grant Village as well as campsites spread throughout Yellowstone. The Old Faithful area also has the Snow Lodge and Cabins. TripAdvisor has some great info that you may want to start with. Yellowstone Treasures is also a wonderful book for research! 

The Crow’s Nest at Old Faithful Inn

High in the rafters at the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, is an enchanting place called the Crow’s Nest. It is said that Robert Reamer, the architect that built the Inn designed it from a childhood fantasy. Bands used to play here for guests high in the air. It is 76 feet up and looks like an amazing tree house.

When I was researching our Yellowstone trip, I came across info on the Crow’s Nest. It turns out you can call the Old Faithful Inn bell desk, and if there is space during your stay, they will take you up to the Crow’s Nest and the roof of the Old Faithful Inn for flag lowering. I was lucky to read this in May when they first opened for the season. I was able to get a spot for our August trip!

We met at the bell desk at 6pm as requested. The bell person that we went up with told us another family might be joining us and was that OK. We said sure. We waited a bit more for the family to show up, but only the mother decided to go. (Wow, who would turn this down? Maybe someone was afraid of heights!) Then we set off for the stairs. They keep the stairs to this area locked for safety.

People were watching and wondering why we got to go past the gates. It pays to do some research ahead of time.

The Crow’s Nest was amazing, but the real honor was getting to lower the United States flag and state flags on the roof of the Inn.

This would be a great thing to surprise someone with on your trip. It is pretty high up, and the railings are low so be prepared. It can be windy as well. The view of the Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful is stunning.