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Artist's Paintpots Trail

Easy/Intermediate
 4.1 (15)

A nice trail with great views and interesting mudpots and hot springs to see.


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Map Key

0.7

Miles

1.2

KM

Point to Point

7,453' 2,272 m

High

7,352' 2,241 m

Low

101' 31 m

Up

72' 22 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (3°)

19%

Max Grade (11°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Hot Spring · Views

Family Friendly A short trail with easy access and interesting geologic features to see along the way.

Geyser basin boardwalks protect you and preserve delicate formations. You must stay on boardwalks. Pools may be near or above the boiling temperature and can cause severe, possibly even fatal, burns.

Description

From the parking area, the wide path heads south through a lodgepole pine forest rejuvenating after the 1988 fires. Lodgepoles have an unusual way of coping with fire. Besides their annual seed cones, they produce a special “serotinous cone,” which only opens at temperatures that exceed 113° F. Following the 1988 fires, up to a million seeds per acre were found on the ground. Some seeds survived the appetites of birds and rodents to produce an abundance of lodgepole saplings. In some places they grew so thick they’re called “dog-hair” forest. Paintpot Hill ahead on the horizon is such a place; notice the thick, green blanket of trees that covers it.

As you continue, notice also the dead trees on the left with white bottoms that look as if they are wearing white anklet socks. These “bobby socks” trees were not killed by fire, but rather drowned by thermal runoff water. The trees soaked up the mineral-laden water, and when the water evaporated, the minerals were left behind, turning the lower portion of the trees white.

At the junction, follow the boardwalk to the left. Notice the hot springs near the bottom of the hill. Most of the time, they have a good water supply. As you climb up the hill water is more limited and the pools are filled with mud. In early summer, the mudpots are thin and watery from abundant rain and snow. By late summer they are quite thick. The mud is composed of clay minerals and fine particles of silica. In this area the rock is rhyolite, which is composed primarily of quartz and feldspar. Acids in the steam and water break down the feldspar into a clay mineral called kaolinite. Iron oxide stains the white mud into a colorful array of pastels. This effect reminded early Yellowstone geologists of an artist’s palette, hence the name “Artists’ Paintpots.”

From the top of the hill, one gets a great view of the surrounding area including Mount Holmes, that dominates the skyline to the north.

Soon, the trail loops back to the right and continues down to the parking area.

Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.

Contacts

Shared By:

Tom Carter

Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 15 votes

#3

in Norris

#7021

Overall
  4.1 from 15 votes
5 Star
40%
4 Star
27%
3 Star
33%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#3

in Norris

#155

in Wyoming

#7,021

Overall
7 Views Last Month
604 Since Sep 8, 2015
Easy/Intermediate

58%
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25%
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Photos

Artists Paintpots
Sep 19, 2016 near Norris…, WY
Some of the colors of the Artist's Paintpot.
Apr 25, 2016 near Norris…, WY
Though it's better to view the pots from above, the steam signals the presence of geothermal activity.
Apr 25, 2016 near Norris…, WY
Mud Geyser.
Apr 25, 2016 near Norris…, WY
Artists Paintpots.
Sep 4, 2018 near Norris…, WY
Steam raising up on the approach to the Paintpots.
Sep 4, 2018 near Norris…, WY

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Sep 1, 2021
Lauren Holbrook
0h 30m
Aug 28, 2021
Isabella Mahlmann
0.7mi — 1h 30m
Aug 19, 2021
Marc Daniel
With Mila — 11h 20m
Aug 12, 2021
Taylor Screws
1.1mi
Jul 20, 2021
Dianne Sarmiento
Jul 15, 2021
Krista Mansholt
Jul 14, 2021
Stephanie Chou
Jul 6, 2021
Ellie Woertz