Lower Geyser Basin
The Lower Geyser Basin covers a large area (approx. 11 square miles) and contains an array of geothermal features including those that have a lot of water (geysers and hot springs/pools), and those with limited water (mudpots, and steaming fumaroles). Key features include:
Fountain Paint Pot Trail: The Fountain Paint Pot Trail is accessed via a boardwalk that does have some stairs along the path. This area is best known for its unique mud pool (Fountain Paint Pot) that fascinates and even baffles visitors, as a truly bizarre site to behold. As with all paint pots/mud pots, the consistency of the pots can be affected by recent rains, or lack thereof. This trail also provides a closeup view of other geothermal features including Celestine Pool, Silex Spring, Leather Pool, Red Spouter, Twig Geyser, Fountain Geyser, Morning Geyser, Jet Geyser, Clepsydra Geyser, Spasm Geyser, and various fumaroles.
Firehole Lake Drive: This 2-mile one-way drive (buses, RV’s and trailers are not permitted) is where Great Fountain Geyser, one of the most spectacular geysers in the park, is located. The geysers structure is elegant with a series of terracing features surrounding the geyser on all sides giving the appearance of reflection pools. This geyser is somewhat predictable within 1 to 2 hours, with intervals averaging between 9 and 15 hours apart. Predicted eruption times are available in the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, and when staffing is available, are written on a sign at the geyser location.
The reason this geyser is such a favorite among park visitors is because of the style of its eruptions. In fact, some people will arrive hours before the window of predicted eruption times to claim their seat on the wooden benches that are located along a side of the geyser. The process begins with a grouping of eruption bursts of smaller size followed by a quiet period. It causes you to think that it failed in its attempt to fully erupt. Then suddenly, and with great power, the geyser erupts shooting large amounts of water high into the air in spectacular fashion. The crowd of onlookers always seem to respond with sounds and expressions of awe and wonder. It truly is an exciting experience for those of all ages. The active and quiet episodes will continue for up to an hour, but the first eruption is usually the strongest and highest. The average height of the main eruption is 100 feet, but a rare phenomenon is a so called “superburst” eruption of 200 feet. Count yourself lucky if you happen to be in attendance when it occurs, and hopefully with your camera to film the experience.
Other geothermal features along this drive include Firehole Spring with its large bubbles giving the appearance of flashes of light, Sunrise Pool, and White Dome Geyser with eruptions of 30 feet in height occurring from 30 minutes to 3 hours apart. Pink Cone, Steady Geyser, Firehole Lake (the largest hot spring in the area), and Black Warrior Lake provide their unique characteristics to add to the experience. Boardwalks provide convenient access to these lakes and associated features.
The Great Fountain Geyser was mentioned in our article titled: "Best Places to Go and Things to do with Kids in Each of Yellowstone's 14 Road Sections"