Monument Geyser Basin
ElevationAscent: 676' 206 m
Descent: -677' -206 m
High: 7,987' 2,434 m
Low: 7,346' 2,239 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 38% (21°)
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“This trail leads to unusual geyserite forms named Thermos Bottle Geyser, Sunning Seal, & Dog's Head.”— Tom Carter
Family Friendly Though this hike has a fairly steep section, the fancifully-named geyserite forms are worth the effort.
The trail turns sharply to the left and begins a 0.7-mile steep climb up more than 600 feet through a lodgepole forest thoroughly burned in 1988 by the North Fork Fire. At the 1.1-mile mark, you reach the top and get an impressive view down Gibbon Canyon. The trail then swings right and skirts the edge of Monument Geyser Basin, an oblong collection of acid mud pots, sulfurous pools, steam vents, and inactive geysers. The ground here is very unstable. Do not cross the basin. Instead do your exploring from the outer edge of the basin near the trees or other vegetation.
Park Superintendent P.W. Norris discovered this basin in 1878. He named it for the gravestone-like sinter cones it contains, commenting there were deposits "strongly suggesting the work of human hands; some ancient memorial to the dead."
The most impressive feature in the basin is eight-foot Monument Geyser (also known as Thermos Bottle Geyser), which lies elevated on the basin's western side. Until the 1930s, it commonly erupted to a height of 15 feet. It remains active, but now merely hisses, sputters and steams. As its sinter cone grows taller, Monument Geyser is apparently slowly sealing itself off at the top.
Most of the other interesting features in the basin have already sealed themselves and become dormant. Their unusual shapes, however, make them the stars of this hike. You'll find these extraordinary features to the right of Monument Geyser. Use your imagination to see how many of the following well-named features you can recognize: Sperm Whale, Sunning Seal, Jumping Seal, Dog's Head, and Dog's Tail. When you have finished your exploring, retrace your steps to the trailhead.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.
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