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Old Faithful Yellowstone

Visiting the Old Faithful Geyser


Old Faithful Geyser
Southwest corner of lower loop drive, halfway between West Thumb and Madison.

Old Faithful may be the world's most famous geyser. Members of the 1870 Washburn Expedition first noticed the geyser's regular eruptions, and gave it the name it bears today. Oddly enough, Old Faithful is neither Yellowstone's biggest geyser (Steamboat Geyser is) nor its most predictable, but it has name-brand recognition, and people like watching it so much that more than 85% of Yellowstone visitors stop by to see it go off.

Watching Old Faithful Geyser

  • You can find the next predicted eruption times posted in the Old Faithful Inn or National Park Visitor Center, or just watch for the crowds to gather on the boardwalk.
  • Take a seat on the surrounding deck, or head for the Old Faithful Inn's second-floor veranda.
  • Taking a photo? Be alert. Sometimes Old Faithful goes off well before its predicted eruption time. Be prepared to protect your camera from the spray.

Old Faithful Cautions

Stay on the boardwalks and walkways. The water can be boiling temperature or higher, what looks like solid ground may be only a thin crust, and going off the trails damages fragile plants and rock formations.

All About Old Faithful

Consider these Old Faithful facts:
  • Each eruption lasts one and a half to five minutes.
  • When it erupts, it sprays 3,700 to 8,400 gallons (14,000 to 32,000 liters) of boiling water up to 184 feet (55 m) in the air.
  • Old Faithful has rarely missed an eruption in over 120 years of recorded history
  • Old Faithful is one of more than 300 geysers in Yellowstone.
  • Old Faithful is a cone geyser, named for the cone-shaped mineral formation around its opening that makes it erupt in a narrow jet.

How Old Faithful Works

Start with a hot spring, and constrict the water's exit. With boiling water circulating underground, and very little place for steam to escape, pressure builds up. Eventually, the confined steam and water burst out of the narrow opening, spraying until the water reservoir is exhausted or the pressure drops.

Old Faithful Accessibility

Old Faithful is easily accessible via smooth paths and the surrounding boardwalk.
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