Tips for Visiting Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful has to be on your list of places to visit during your trip to Yellowstone National Park. This iconic geyser is something to check off your list of places to see during your lifetime. Here are a few tips I have compiled to ensure you know what to expect, and that you will have the best views while visiting:
1. Old Faithful is not that faithful.
Old Faithful erupts anywhere between 35-120 minutes apart each time. There seems to be the belief that the eruptions happen hourly (and some possibly believe they happen every hour on the hour). This is simply not true. Do not try to predict the next eruption yourself.
The wonderful thing about Old Faithful is that the park rangers are able to predict the eruptions pretty accurately, making it one of the easiest geysers in Yellowstone National Park to see. This is also probably why it is so popular. That, and the fact that it is so close to the parking lot. There are signs posted around the geyser predicting between what two times the geyser should erupt again next. This will help you plan on when you should be standing by the geyser.
Keep in mind that because Old Faithful is so easy to predict, you can always come back and see this geyser later. Some of the other geysers erupt several hours apart, so if it works better to go see them first, plan on stopping back by Old Faithful on your way back after your Upper Geyser Basin tour.
2. Stand with the wind to your back.
Any breeze will blow the steam in front of the water spray, making it impossible to see the actual water from the geyser. Instead, you will see a lot of steam blowing into the air. Probably not what you came to Old Faithful to see.
If you stand with the wind to your back, you will ensure the steam will be blown to the other side of the spray, so that you will actually be able to see the water.
Visitors tend to gather around the benches that have been placed near the buildings to watch the show. These benches are crowded in the middle of summer, and I am not sure that people immediately realize there is a path the entire way around the geyser. If you want to beat the crowds, head to the opposite side of the path from the benches to watch. You can also head up Geyser Hill. (But don’t forget to keep track of the wind direction to avoid seeing only steam!)
4. You will know the geyser is about to erupt by the crowd.
Everyone will gather around the previously mentioned bench area as the geyser gets closer to erupting. After it erupts, this area will become completely empty. So once you see people gathering around the benches, you know you should head to the geyser.
5. Expect some small jetting prior to eruption.
As Old Faithful nears eruption, steam and a small flow of water will begin to come out of the water. This will trick you to break out the camera, start filming, and start taking photos. This can last anywhere up to 20 minutes. So be prepared to sit through this trickery until the geyser suddenly explodes high into the air. You can experience this by clicking here to watch my video.
If you don’t want to wait until your visit to Yellowstone National Park to see Old Faithful, you can view the current eruption on their webcam by clicking here. Or head over to my Youtube Page for more Old Faithful and Yellowstone National Park videos.
Be sure to keep my list of tips in mind as you plan your trip to see this amazing geyser erupt. Old Faithful should absolutely be on your list of places to see during your Yellowstone trip, but keep in mind my list of other geysers as well.
Warm Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Alex M. Neill
Montana Vacation Blog