GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

Wonderful Geysers Not to Miss

Grand Geyser

Grand Geyser (2013)

Visiting Yellowstone Park in the summer, you’ll want to devote at least a half day to a walk past the many different and beautiful hydrothermal features, especially the wonderful geysers, in Upper Geyser Basin. While out in the basin, plan on waiting for an eruption of one of the geysers that are predictable but not always dependable. Predictions are posted in the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center starting at 8:00 am every day.

For Grand Geyser, you may have to wait two hours or more. But I’ve never heard of anyone being disappointed by Grand. Recently, it erupts about every 7 to 10 hours and may go to 200 feet (60 m). Don’t leave after the first exciting burst of raw natural energy—it may have a second great burst or even more.

Riverside Geyser

Riverside Geyser

It’s a longer walk to catch Riverside Geyser erupting. This one goes off close to every 6 hours and has been dependable for years. Its graceful fountain over the Firehole River may catch a rainbow when the sun is right.

Great Fountain Geyser

Great Fountain Geyser (1996)

Others with predicted eruption times listed at the visitor center are Daisy, Castle, and Great Fountain Geysers. You’ll need to drive 8 miles (13 km) north of Old Faithful Village to see Great Fountain Geyser. It’s on Firehole Lake Drive, where there are numerous other features worth looking at with very little walking to do. Great Fountain has a beautiful crater built up of concentric circles of geyserite. Its thrilling eruption goes as high as 150 feet (45 m), and convenient benches place you very close to the action.

This next one is a bonus: nobody can tell you when and how to see a geyser eruption like this. This one may erupt 3 or 4 times a year—or it may not. After a six-year hiatus, Giantess Geyser came back to life on August 26, 2020. Then visitors got to witness long eruptions (approx. 30 hours) on August 11–12 and September 10, 2021, as well. The most recent eruption before those three was on January 29, 2014. The preceding one was way back in September of 2001! Six days before 9/11 I experienced the rare and unpredictable treat of an eruption of Giantess Geyser. You can see, in the picture taken by Linton Brown below (and on page 94 of Yellowstone Treasures), that the water from this geyser goes to amazing heights, dwarfing the watchers. What you can’t see here is the deafeningly loud steam phase that Giantess’s eruptions pass through between water phases.

Giantess Geyser

Giantess Geyser

CREDITS: The photo of Grand Geyser is by Beth Chapple, the photo of Riverside Geyser by Bruno Giletti, the photo of Great Fountain Geyser by Leslie Kilduff, and the photo of Giantess Geyser by Linton Brown.

IN THE GUIDEBOOK: Find out how geysers work on pages 84–85 and see a Riverside Geyser image with an even better rainbow on page 90 of Yellowstone Treasures, sixth edition.

Updated November 11, 2022. Copyright Janet Chapple. All Rights Reserved.