Hiking Project Logo

greenBlue Norris-Back Basin

Trail

1.6 mile 2.6 kilometer point to point
Easy/Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 60' 18 m
Descent: -94' -29 m
High: 7,580' 2,310 m
Low: 7,508' 2,288 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 6% (3°)

Dogs

No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Tom Carter

Head around Norris’ Back Basin, home to the world's tallest geyser and other interesting features.

Tom Carter

Features Geyser · Hot Spring · Views

Family Friendly This short boardwalk route heads past the world's tallest geyser!

Geyser basin boardwalks protect you and preserve delicate formations. You must stay on boardwalks and trails. Scalding water underlies much of the thin, breakable crust. Pools may be near or above the boiling temperature and can cause severe, possibly even fatal, burns.

Description

Before starting, check at the Norris Museum for info on current geyser predictions. Our trail begins left of the museum. Soon the trail reaches Emerald Spring. Its 27-foot deep pool is lined with yellow sulfur deposits. The yellow color from the sulfur combines with the water’s reflected blue light, making the hot spring appear a magnificent emerald green.

Continue through the trees and start down the hill. Soon you reach Steamboat Geyser, the world's tallest active geyser. Its major eruptions shoot water more than 300 feet. Observe the massive area this amazing geyser affects. It’s unlikely you'll see a full eruption, but even Steamboat's more frequent 10 to 40-foot micro-bursts exceed many other geysers in size. Further down the hill is Cistern Spring. Steamboat Geyser and Cistern are linked underground. During a major eruption of Steamboat, the water in Cistern's pool drains. Normally, Cistern is a beautiful blue pool from which water continually overflows.

Near Cistern, the trail divides. To the right the Back Basin Connector can be used to reduce the trail from 1.6 miles to .9 miles. [Note: As springs shift and grow, the boardwalks are often rerouted to protect the features. Look carefully around the basin, you'll see the scars where boardwalks used to be.] The main trail continues left across Steamboat's runoff channel. At the .4-mile mark is Echinus (e-KI-nus) Geyser. Echinus is the largest acid-water geyser known. Its waters are almost as acidic as vinegar with a pH around 3.5. For years this crowd-pleaser erupted every 35 to 75 minutes. More recently, Echinus eruptions are extremely rare. Like other geysers and hot springs, Echinus can change without warning.

The trail sweeps right, then back left, to visit Puff ‘n Stuff Geyser and Green Dragon Spring at .8 miles. Steam often fills Green Dragon’s cavern, forcing visitors to wait patiently to glimpse its sulfur-lined cave and boiling green water. The trail then turns back to the north and cuts across the Back Basin, passing Porkchop Geyser, Pearl Geyser, and a personal favorite, Vixen Geyser. Even the smaller geysers are fun to watch and worth a wait. They each have a personality of their own.

The trail passes a junction with the Back Basin Connector (on right), a shorter but steeper route back. Continue straight to see Palpitator Spring, Fearless Geyser, Monarch Geyser, and the remains of Minute Geyser. The trail then climbs through the trees back to the Museum.

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

Rate This Trail

Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In

Check-Ins

May 30, 2019
Kelsey Kimble
Apr 19, 2019
Robby Grant
A lot of snow but a lot of fun — 0h 30m
Sep 19, 2018
Joe Crimando
Sep 15, 2018
Karen Tuerk
Sep 14, 2018
Scott Street
Aug 25, 2018
Paul Hoffmann
Aug 21, 2018
Catherine Kirby
Aug 13, 2018
Vince Teixeira

Stewarded By


Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 5 votes

#1

in Norris

#6759

Overall
  4.2 from 5 votes
5 Star
40%
4 Star
40%
3 Star
20%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Rankings

#1

in Norris

#152

in Wyoming

#6,759

Overall
20 Views Last Month
485 Since Sep 10, 2015
Easy/Intermediate Easy/Intermediate

50%
33%
17%
0%
0%
0%

0 Comments

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking