Trip report #13 – Yellowstone – Old Faithful and Firehole Lake

While I enjoy the solitude of our hiking days, I also appreciate the chance to visit Yellowstone’s primary attractions. And during this time of year, even the busiest areas – like Old Faithful Inn – seem pretty much ours as it’s evident the park traffic is thinning.

We began our day with a quick detour off the park’s main highway to view Firehole Falls. The Firehole River is a favorite of fisherman and we quickly scouted it for future opportunities, and then got back on the highway toward the Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful.

Firehole Falls

Upon arriving at the Old Faithful Inn, we noted that it was predicted the large geyser would erupt in a matter of minutes. Sure enough, we had just enough time to get fairly close before it met that expectation.

Old Faithful Geyser

I had read the evening before that while it is not the largest or most regular of Yellowstone’s geysers, Old Faithful erupts more frequently than any other large one. Its average interval between eruptions is about 93 minutes. Reaching a height of between 106 and 184 feet, it expels between 3,700 and 8,400 gallons of boiling water.

Prior to viewing the other geysers in the basin, we enjoyed a tasty lunch at the Inn.  Roasted red pepper and smoky Gouda soup helped chase away the day’s chill, and the hamburger we chose to split was cooked just right.

After eating, we bought postcards to send to our grandchildren, and then sat for just a moment in the Inn’s majestic lobby, which is more than 75 feet high and is dominated by a massive four-sided stone fireplace.

The lobby of Old Faithful Inn

Designed by Robert Reamer and built in the winter of 1903-1904, the Inn is one of the largest log structures in existence. We learned that the building does not face the geyser as it was built facing sideways to allow early visitors to see the geyser as they exited their carriages.

Trail map in hand, we made our way to the boardwalk for a view of the largest concentration of geysers in the world.

View of the Upper Geyser Basin from the Old Faithful boardwalk

Doublet Pool’s deep blue waters are punctuated with steam bubbles and audible thumps caused by collapsing gases.

Doublet Pool

The Lion Group consists of four geysers: Little Cub, Lioness, Big Cub and Lion. Two of them are shown here.

The Lion Group

Pump Geyser is known for its regularity, while Sawmill Geyser is the most active, hissing and thumping in rhythmic fashion. We could hear it all the way around our boardwalk stroll.

Pump Geyser

Sawmill Geyser

Belgian Pool is beautiful but apparently deadly. In fact, it is named for George Landoy, a newspaperman visiting the park from Antwerp, Belgium. On July 3, 1929, Landoy fell into the pool while running toward an erupting geyser, scalding 50 percent of his body. He died two days later.

Belgian Pool

It had been our intention to walk the entire three-mile loop out to Morning Glory Pool and back, but Mother Nature had other ideas. We waited a bit, hoping this bison would move a safe distance away from the boardwalk, but it seemed pretty content right where it was grazing and we didn’t want to push the issue.

Morning Glory Pool holds a special place in my family’s lore. Upon our first visit there – I was 10 – my mother’s hair turned a clown-like yellow, most likely due to the sulfuric steam interacting with her newly frosted hair. Thankfully, her brunette locks returned to their normal color within several hours, but the incident still gets a good laugh out of my sisters and me.

Taking a shorter route back to the Inn did have some rewards for us. Beauty Pool is aptly named, its bright colors a result of the tremendous heat of its waters.

Beauty Pool

Crested Pool is almost constantly boiling, sometimes to a depth of six feet or more. We could hear its clear blue water sizzling even after we walked by.

Scott at Crested Pool

The magnificent cone of Castle Geyser is thousands of years old. It erupts every 14 hours – unfortunately, we didn’t view it – but we did see a lot of activity in the small pools and vents surrounding it.

Castle Geyser

On our way back to West Yellowstone, we took another scenic detour, this time out to Firehole Lake. Located in the Lower Geyser Basin, the lake is dotted with several hot spring features and discharges 3,500 gallons of water a minute into Tangled Creek.

Firehole Lake

Watching the sun set behind the lake, we declared our day a most excellent adventure.



  1. Colleen
    Oct 11, 2012

    Loving the photos, Janie. I had no idea there is such a variety in geysers.

  2. Janie
    Oct 13, 2012

    Colleen – every day we venture out into the park, I think of you! You would love it here – the photographic opportunities are endless! On that note, can’t wait to see the ones you shoot while on your much-deserved vacation. Let’s “talk” soon. Hugs, J.

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