Old Faithful is the busiest place in Yellowstone National Park. For an obvious reason when people think of Yellowstone they picture the beautiful Geyser that is Old Faithful shooting up into the sky! So everyone has to stop to see it. Old Faithful is amazing and there are a lot of other Kid Friendly activities to do in the are.
The Old Faithful area – has a cafeteria, snack shop, souvenirs, a sit down restaurant, general store (like a gas station sized grocery store), ice cream, cookies and gas.
Table of Contents
- 1. The Grand Prismatic and the Midway Geyser Basin
- 2. Lone Star Geyser
- 3. Old Faithful Geyser
- 4. Old Faithful Inn
- 5. Old Faithful Visitor Center
- 6. Old Faithful Lodge Porch
- 7. Upper Geyser Basin Trail
- 8. Kepler Cascade
- 9. Firehole Lake Drive
1. The Grand Prismatic and the Midway Geyser Basin
Yes this is another highly populated tourist attraction that everyone who visits Yellowstone National Park stops to see – but it is so worth fighting the crowds to see it. It is beautiful, amazing, and crazy that all those colors come out of the ground! It is a must see when you are in Yellowstone.
The hike through the Midway Geyser Basin is all boardwalk, so it’s easy to navigate, but it also means standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers while soaking in the colors and trying to take pictures.
Take note it can be really windy here. If you have a hat leave it in the car – or it may end up in the Springs! Also if you have kids make sure to hold their hand. The boardwalk does not have any railings or anything like that.
View the Grand Prismatic Springs From Above
When stopping here plan on walking around the geyser so you can feel the heat and get up close to it. But also plan to drive up the road to the Fairy Falls trailhead and hike up to the Grand Prismatic Overlook.
It is a 1/2 mile hike that starts on the Fairy Falls trail – just short of a 1/2 mile up the trail there will be a small sign pointing up the hill. Don’t miss it! This is where you can walk up and look down on the springs. It is an amazing view!
2. Lone Star Geyser
This is my FAVORITE recommendation (a close second to the Grand Prismatic!). Old Faithful is Old Faithful but imagine Old Faithful without all the people and hoopla. That is what you get with the Lone Star Geyser. It is a 2 mile bike or hike to get back to the Geyser.
Then once you get there you can go and play in a stream that has shallow, crystal clear water while you wait for the Geyser to go off. The Geyser goes off about every 3 hours so it really is a matter of luck if you get there right before ir goes off, right after, or somewhere in the middle.
We weren’t sure when it was going to blow so we went to play in the stream and have a little picnic while we waited. All of a sudden we heard this noise and there it was! The Geyser started going off – it quickly stopped and we thought that was it.
We kept picking on my sister because she told us that it would go off for 30 minutes. Luckily we waited because sure enough it went off again and this time it lasted for a good 30 minutes! We chose to ride our bikes in and it was so worth it!
You can literally walk right up to the Geyser if you want. Obviously you wouldn’t do that because you would get scalded! But if you were so inclined you could. They also have a log book there that you could write down your name and date you came. It was a really cool experience and one I would highly recommend!
3. Old Faithful Geyser
The Disneyland of Yellowstone 🙂 YES it is worth coming to the visitor center to explore and then going out to watch Old Faithful. A LOT of people come to watch Old Faithful go off so if you want a front row seat you have 2 options.
- Check the time in the Visitor Center for when it will approximately go off (the time they provide is + or – 10 minutes). Then head out well before the set time to get your seat.
- Walk around the trails at Old Faithful and watch it go off from a back view. A lot of people have said that is even a better view than the benches in front of Old Faithful. There are also some trails that take you up higher point to watch it go off from above.
Our recommendation is to watch Old Faithful from both view points and to make sure you come back to watch it at sunset and when it is dark outside.
Yes we recommend watching it 4 times. But as you will see each way gives you a different view point of Old Faithful! And no, they don’t light it up at night. This place is rustic, man!
4. Old Faithful Inn
When you are by Old Faithful it is worth it to walk over to check out the Old Faithful Inn. It is a beautiful building and has a magical feeling when you walk into it. If you have the time you can get an ice cream cone and hang out in the lodge to take in the architecture and coolness of the Lodge! It has a huge vaulted ceiling which is awesome to see!
5. Old Faithful Visitor Center
It is a large Visitor Center that has floor to ceiling windows on the back wall where you can watch Old Faithful go off from inside! It has a large museum area that has a hands on are for kids. This place gets busy! Everyone hangs out here waiting for the next eruption, so be prepared.
6. Old Faithful Lodge Porch
If you are lucky enough to score a seat, there is a porch with rocking chairs where you can sit with your ice cream, beer, or dinner to watch Old Faithful go off! They also sell cookies at a snack bar area in the building that your kids will love.
7. Upper Geyser Basin Trail
This is a trail that starts off by Old Faithful and takes you to a variety of other thermal features and geysers. We didn’t do this trail the first time we were by Old Faithful and I don’t know why! It is an awesome trail and well worth doing.
This is also something that you can do while you are waiting for Old Faithful to go off. Just be sure you watch your time! You could spend hours on this trail stopping to look at everything.
8. Kepler Cascade
These are worth a stop! It is a beautiful cascade of water with a lookout area that you walk out to so you get a really good view. It is worth the stop!
9. Firehole Lake Drive
After seeing the Grand Prismatic, nothing will quite compare but it is still worth it to drive down Firehole Lake Drive to see a collection of geysers and hot springs. Some go off right next to the road, so you may get a bit of overspray from a geyser!
There you have it! Our top 9 things to do by Old Faithful – Enjoy!
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