Visiting Old Faithful: A Question and Answer Guide

Old Faithful is located in Yellowstone National Park, a short trek from the West Yellowstone entrance. Originally named Old Faithful by the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition in 1870, this predictable geothermal feature erupts approximately every 91 minutes. What are some important facts for visitors to know before visiting Old Faithful?

  • Eruptions – Old Faithful’s eruptions are based on previous eruptions, which is why eruption times are referred as average intervals between eruptions. Intervals range from 60 to 110 minutes. Prediction times are clearly posted in the Old Faithful visitor center areas.
  • Are Intervals Changing? – Old Faithful erupts an average of 17 times daily and experts can predict eruption times with more than 90-percent accuracy. However, due to two major earthquakes – the 1959 Hebgen Lake and 1983 Borah Peak – the average eruption intervals have lengthened. After an earthquake in 1998, Old Faithful began exhibiting longer duration and longer interval eruptions. In fact, scientists have learned that if Old Faithful’s eruption is less than two-and-a-half minutes, the next eruption will occur in 60 minutes. If it is longer than the aforementioned time period, the eruption increases to a 90-minute interval.
  • Gallons of Water – While the amount of water discharged from Old Faithful varies upon the duration of the eruption, scientists feel confident saying it ranges from 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of water.
  • Temperature – Old Faithful’s water temperature is approximately 204 degrees Fahrenheit, while the steam temperature is in excess of 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Other popular geothermic features in the Old Faithful area include:

  • Upper Geyser Basin – Yellowstone’s boundaries include approximately 60-percent of worldwide geysers. The Upper Geyser Basin contains the largest number of geothermal features, with more than 150 in a mere one-square-mile area. Popular geyser attractions include Castle, Daisy, Grand, Riverside and Old Faithful.
  • Lower Geyser Basin – This area is accessed by a walking trail at the Fountain Paint Pots, alongside Firehole Lake Drive, Great Fountain, Fountain Flats Drive, Firehole River and the Fairy Falls Trail.
  • Midway Geyser Basin – This basin includes the Excelsior Geyser and the Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the most photographed geysers next to Old Faithful.
  • Lone Star Geyser Basin – This includes a five-mile hike to Lone Star Geyser, which erupts approximately every three hours.
  • Shoshone Geyser Basin – This is lengthy, physical 17-mile hike that crosses Grant’s Divide (located at the Continental Divide). This is a remote geothermal area with trails, no boardwalks.
  • Craig Pass and Isa Lake – Located at 8,262 feet, this spring drains into both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as it hugs the Continental Divide.
  • Waterfalls – This area features several pristine, beautiful waterfalls, including Mystic Falls and Fairy Falls.

For visitors looking to stay in West Yellowstone, which offers convenient access to Old Faithful, Yellowstone Holiday offers West Yellowstone cabin rentals. They also offer RV parks in West Yellowstone as well as popular attractions, including fishing and boating at Hebgen Lake.

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