Fun fact: There are over 10,000 hydro-thermal “features” in Yellowstone (straight from the NPS website)!! While Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin seem to be the most popular, the Norris Geyser Basin, Paint Pots, Grand Prismatic, and West Thumb are GREAT places to see a number of other geysers, fumaroles, mud pots, and hot springs.
You can watch the video of our experience with different thermal features on our YouTube Channel!
For us, the Norris Geyser Basin was a completely unexpected stop. We were on our way to the Canyon area, but when the Gypsy Guide encouraged us to stop we couldn’t help it! Now before we get too far, we need to talk about something that not many folks mention about Yellowstone: it smells. When you get close to hydro-thermal areas, be prepared for an intense smell of sulphur (i.e. rotten eggs).
Norris gave us quite the introduction to so many different geysers and hot springs: Steamboat, Echinus, Cistern Geyser, and SO MANY MORE!!
We also visited Paint Pots while we were in the park! A must-stop if you’re into the mud pots. And. Those. Views. My biggest complaint of the Paint Pots was that there was only a two-bathroom set-up and the line was long (and not moving). Top tip: if you need to go to the bathroom look for picnic areas! They can be relatively quiet and usually have a bathroom!
One of my absolute FAVORITE stops in Yellowstone was Grand Prismatic. Pictures don’t do this place justice!
Oh and THIS one!
Just be ready for ALL OF THE PEOPLE.
One of the last major places we stopped off at for thermal activity was West Thumb. The thermal activity was cool, but the fact that it’s right next to a giant lake is breathtakingly gorgeous.
And we saw an elk just munching next to a super warm hot spring. No big deal.
Thermal activities aren’t just happening in these areas, you can stop off on the side of the road and watch a geyser erupt (White Dome), watch a mountain look like it’s going to explode (Roaring Mountain), or maybe just watch some springs gurgle (Clearwater Springs). There are literally thousands of opportunities to see geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots!
Happy Hiking (even if it’s sometimes on boardwalks)!