An Evening at the Upper Geyser Basin

Castle Geyser and Beehive Geyser erupt simultaneously in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Castle Geyser and Beehive Geyser erupt simultaneously

Last summer, the weather wasn’t working out so well at Mt. Hood, so we were looking for alternative places to visit on the trip home.  A couple members of the group wanted to stop at Yellowstone National Park and see the geysers, so we said, hey, why not?  It’s not that hard to go through northern Wyoming on our way from northern Oregon to New York!

Sawmill Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Sawmill Geyser

The upshot was that we spent a most lovely evening exploring the Upper Geyser Basin.  We’ve been there many times before (so often I did a post a few years back on the best geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin), but this was another of those special times when all the geysers seem to be going off at once, the evening sun is shining, and we’re just having a grand time together in a place we’ve always enjoyed before.

Fumaroles along the Firehole River near the trail through the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Fumaroles along the Firehole River near the trail

I’ll let the pictures and maps speak for themselves – trying to describe it is just too difficult!  But suffice to say we took the Multiuse Trail from Old Faithful (which had just erupted)…

Old Faithful in the early evening, Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Old Faithful in the early evening

…to Castle Geyser (with is constant minor eruptions)…

Castle Geyser and one of its small eruptions, Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Castle Geyser and one of its small eruptions

took the cutoff over to Sawmill Geyser (which also erupts almost constantly)…

Sawmill Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Sawmill Geyser

did a little extra loop that took us past Grand Geyser an a number of hot springs and pools, then walked to pick up the Multiuse Trail near Grotto Geyser (again, this one erupts almost constantly).

Grotto Geyser spits steam and water in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Grotto Geyser spits steam and water

During that time, we saw the top of Daisy Geyser’s eruption (that’s a first – too bad we weren’t up close, but then we wouldn’t have caught some later stuff, so I can’t complain!)

Daisy Geyser erupts from afar, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Daisy Geyser

Then we walked up to Morning Glory Pool.

Morning Glory Pool in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Morning Glory Pool

By that point, some of the younger ones wanted to run back along the Multiuse Trail to catch Old Faithful’s next eruption, so we told them, go ahead, run!  They didn’t quite make it, but they were close.

Old Faithful Geyser erupts from afar, Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Old Faithful Geyser erupts from afar

I wasn’t in the mood to run, so I was walking quickly / jogging along when I skidded to a stop because there was Beehive Geyser erupting!

Beehive Geyser from afar in the Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Beehive Geyser from afar

So I missed Old Faithful, but caught Beehive and Castle together, which was totally epic!

Castle Geyser and Beehive Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Castle Geyser and Beehive Geyser

By that time, the sun was setting, so it seemed like a good idea to go find a campsite!

the Old Faithful viewing area is pretty empty at sunset... Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

the Old Faithful viewing area is pretty empty at sunset…


Round Trip Trail Length: I hiked a total of 3.5 miles; it’s probably slightly shorter than that.

Net Elevation Change: 57ft. (7,375ft. at Castle Geyser to 7,318ft. at Morning Glory Pool)

Facilities: Restrooms, visitor services, cafeteria, hotel, gas, and much more available in the Old Faithful area

Fees: $30 to enter Yellowstone National Park; valid 7 days.  America the Beautiful (Interagency), Senior (Golden Age), Access (Golden Access), Volunteer, Military, 4th Grader, and Yellowstone Annual Passes also accepted

Trail Notes: Check at the Old Faithful front desk or visitor center for a schedule of the next geyser eruptions.  The entire area is pretty cool, and my favorite of the geyser basins in Yellowstone.  The trails and boardwalks are more or less wheelchair / stroller accessible.  The Multiuse Path is also fine for bicycles.

Boardwalk along the way through the Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Boardwalk along the way

Trail ★★★★★

Road ★★★★☆

Signs ★★★★★

Scenery ★★★★★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

Crested Pool, near Castle Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Crested Pool, near Castle Geyser

Key GPS Coordinates for the Upper Geyser Basin

Beginning: 44.45884N / -110.82759W (45° 29′ 2.4354″ / -123° 50′ 38.7234″) (7,358ft.) (0.0; end 3.5)

Old Faithful Lodge: 44.45938N / -110.82651W (44° 27′ 33.7680″ / -110° 49′ 35.4354″) (7,328ft.)

Old Faithful Geyser: 44.45970N / -110.82729W (44° 27′ 34.9194″ / -110° 49′ 38.2440″) (7,413ft.)

Castle Geyser; loop trail junction with multiuse trail: 44.46346N / -110.83683W (44° 27′ 48.4554″ / -110° 50′ 12.5880″) (7,375ft.) (0.66)

Sawmill Geyser: 44.46562N / -110.83653W (44° 27′ 56.2320″ / -110° 50′ 11.5074″) (7,362ft.) (0.90)

Grand Geyser: 44.46640N / -110.83728W (44° 27′ 59.0400″ / -110° 50′ 14.2080″) (7,358ft.) (1.01)

Grotto Geyser / intersection of loop trail and multiuse trail: 44.47174N / -110.84202W (44° 28′ 18.2634″ / -110° 50′ 31.2720″) (7,333ft.) (1.5)

Morning Glory Pool: 44.47505N / -110.84340W (44° 28′ 30.1800″ / -110° 50′ 36.2400″) (7,318ft.) (1.85)

From the trail from Castle Geyser, Sawmill Geyser is even more impressive! Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

From the trail from Castle Geyser, Sawmill Geyser is even more impressive!

The gpx file for my trek through the Upper Geyser Basin can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

Download GPX File size: 38.7 KB Downloaded 4 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

The Firehole River steams, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The Firehole River steams

Getting to the Upper Geyser Basin

From the South Entrance, follow the road for 22 miles to West Thumb.  Turn left on the road leading to Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basins (this road is well-marked) and drive 17 miles.  A right exit will take you into the Upper Geyser Basin area; keep driving until you reach a series of large parking lots.  Head over toward the buildings; you’ll likely find the hotel/gift shop/restaurant first (from here, walk through the building to the Old Faithful viewing area; turn left to walk past the benches and you’ll eventually come to the visitor center).

Mastiff Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Mastiff Geyser

From the West Entrance, drive 14 miles to Madison.  Turn right on the road to Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin (the road is well-marked).  Drive 16 miles; a right exit will take you to the Upper Geyser Basin area.  Follow the instruction for the South Entrance in terms of parking and finding the visitor center.

Beehive Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Beehive Geyser

From the North Entrance, drive 5 miles to Mammoth Hot Springs.  Continue south (toward Norris Geyser Basin) for 21 miles; keep heading south (toward Madison) for another 14 miles; then follow the directions for the West Entrance from Madison to the Upper Geyser Basin.

Chromatic Pool in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Chromatic Pool

From the Northeast Entrance, drive 29 miles to Tower-Roosevelt; turn left (south) and drive 19 miles to Canyon Village.  Turn right here toward Norris Geyser Basin and drive 12 miles.  Turn left at Norris Junction and drive 14 miles to Madison; follow the instructions for the West Entrance from Madison to the Upper Geyser Basin.

Views across the Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Views across the Upper Geyser Basin

From the East Entrance, drive 27 miles to Fishing Bridge.  Turn left (south) and drive another 21 miles to West Thumb.  Turn right on the road to Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin; follow the instructions for the South Entrance regarding driving from West Thumb to the Basin.

After the eruption... Beehive sits placidly, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

After the eruption… Beehive sits placidly

Please note that travel times are very slow within the park.  It will easily take you an hour or even three to get from one of the entrances to the Upper Geyser Basin.

Visual trail map of my loop through the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Visual trail map of my loop through the Upper Geyser Basin

Upper Geyser Basin Maps

Old (c.1995) map of the Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Old (c.1995) map of the Upper Geyser Basin

Newer (c.2009) map of the Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Newer (c.2009) map of the Upper Geyser Basin

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