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Observation Point Trail

Intermediate
 4.4 (5)

Get a birds-eye view of Old Faithful and the entire Upper Geyser Basin!


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Map Key

0.6

Miles

0.9

KM

Point to Point

7,589' 2,313 m

High

7,357' 2,242 m

Low

232' 71 m

Up

35' 11 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

19%

Max Grade (10°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views

Description

This short trail begins just across the Firehole River behind Old Faithful Geyser. From the Visitor's Center, head between the geyser and the Old Faithful Lodge, turn right at the first trail junction, and follow the paved path down to a bridged crossing of the Firehole River. The Observation Point Trail (unpaved) veers right at the first junction shortly past the river crossing. The trail climbs 230 feet through a partially burned lodgepole forest to Observation Point.

Near the top, the trail divides. Turn right and follow the loop trail as it switchbacks up the plateau rhyolite to Observation Point. The view from the point is magnificent! The entire Upper Geyser Basin spreads out before you. The 150 active geysers that lie here comprise more than 25% of the world's total and include some of the largest and most predictable geysers.

Old Faithful Geyser was named by the 1870 Washburn Expedition who wrote: "we emerged from the woods opposite Old Faithful just as it was giving vent to its internal motions. From that time our spirits rose and all our personal woes and sufferings were forgotten." For over 145 years, Old Faithful's regular, predictable eruptions have had a similar effect on millions of Yellowstone visitors. Other geysers with eruptions large enough to identify from the point include Castle, Beehive, and Giantess, all of which were also named by the Washburn Expedition.

Old Faithful erupts to between 106 and 184 feet (average height is 130 feet). Each eruption lasts between 1.5 to 5 minutes. The interval between eruptions is 60 to 110 minutes. Before the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake, the average interval was about one hour. That quake, and the 1983 Mount Borah quake, caused its average interval to slow to 78 minutes. Although not the largest geyser in the park, Old Faithful is the most frequent and predictable large geyser in Yellowstone and richly deserves its fame.

As you wait for the geyser to erupt, contemplate for a moment another of nature's forces. On September 7, 1988, wild fire attacked this area with a vengeance. Fanned by wind gusts of up to 70 mph, a massive wall of fire descended on the Old Faithful Area from Madison Plateau to the southwest. It roared across this large valley, jumped the Firehole and climbed this ridge. There was nothing man could do to stop it. In fact, it took a herculean effort and a lot of luck to save the Old Faithful Inn.

After enjoying the view, continue on the trail as it loops back down.

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

Flora & Fauna

The 1988 fires opened the forest canopy along this trail allowing more sunlight to reach the forest floor. The rich understory includes pretty, pink, sticky geranium and wild rose, delicate blue harebell, holly-like leaved Oregon grape, deep pink fireweed, and intricate purple monkshood. Look carefully, you may even spot some tasty wild raspberries!

Contacts

Shared By:

Tom Carter

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 5 votes

#10

in Old Faithful

#7185

Overall
  4.4 from 5 votes
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Trail Rankings

#10

in Old Faithful

#154

in Wyoming

#7,185

Overall
7 Views Last Month
1,837 Since Sep 10, 2015
Intermediate

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Photos

Observation Point affords a bird's-eye view of Old Faithful! Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
Mar 6, 2016 near Old Fai…, WY
Abiding by the rules of the park. Keep a safe distance! Don't want to make the news. Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park
Jan 19, 2016 near Old Fai…, WY

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Sep 9, 2020
Jess Toro
Aug 19, 2020
Richard Van Straten
Aug 17, 2020
Brandi Baldwin
Aug 11, 2020
Zachary Bowen
0.6mi
Aug 20, 2019
Andy Markevicus
Jun 11, 2019
Alyssa Roberts
May 21, 2019
Wendy Morton
1h 15m
Oct 9, 2018
Lorelí C.J.