Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful is pretty spectacular- even to the six year old. 🙂 We recently had the opportunity to visit Old Faithful and loved every minute of it. There are usually a lot of crowds surrounding the boardwalk but there was hardly anyone there, so we got an up close and personal view of the eruption of this magnificent geyser.
Old Faithful erupts approximately every 50-120 minutes. The height and magnitude varies each time. The eruption can last from 1 ½ minutes up to 4 ½ or 5 minutes. I couldn’t believe how much water it releases every time it erupts. It emits between 3700 and 8400 gallons of boiling water between 106 to 184 feet high each time! Since Old Faithful is a popular attraction, you’ll want to find the perfect spot to watch “the show”. Benches are scattered throughout the boardwalk on the south side of the geyser. They fill up quickly so we’ve had to sit there for about 30 minutes in order to get a good view as well as decent seating.
The boardwalk makes a big loop around 150 geysers. There are a few paths that veer off to the right or left in case you want to stop sooner. They have information about most of the geysers found. Like Old Faithful, some of them routinely gush out and at varying heights. Use caution when approaching these eruptions. Steam and gases have been known to cause irritation to the eyes/skin. Others are like pools and they just bubble but are entertaining to watch. The path is easy and smooth. The spacious walkway makes it perfect for a stroller or wheelchair. It’s level and you don’t have to worry about exerting a lot of energy. Being in a national park, it is possible that you may encounter wildlife. The geysers are home for buffalo, bears, and more. For your own safety, pay attention to the signs posted and DO NOT approach the animals. Sadly, there have been injuries and fatalities from not adhering to the basic guidelines.
There are plenty of restrooms around the premises, including in the visitor’s center. There’s also a place there to fill up water bottles. Hungry? There’s a restaurant with some excellent ice cream and other delicious food/ snacks.
Our kids really enjoyed the visitor’s center. The staff was friendly and knowledgable. You can tell they have a passion for what they do. There are four main exhibits: Why Geysers Erupt, Hot Water Treasures, Hot Spring Ecology, and Scientific Research. You can find answers to several questions about geysers and hot springs, as well as volcanoes. The visitor’s center offers the Jr. Ranger program for a small fee. However, they give the kids a patch and a plastic badge.
For more information on Old Faithful, visit the National Parks Service website: www.nps.gov/yell. From there type in Old Faithful.