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Upper Geyser Basin - The Boardwalks at Old Faithful Professional Review and Guide
"Although this is not a backcountry hike, except for the Observation Point trail, it is magnificent and a favorite Yellowstone hike. The Upper Geyser Basin contains the largest group of geysers in the world, including Old Faithful. They are in continuous motion. The predicted times of many of their eruptions are posted in the visitor center. Viewing this large assortment of geysers, pools, and the Firehole River make this walk a chance to see one of the earth's magical wonders."
--Robert Stone, Day Hikes in Yellowstone National Park (Day Hike Books).
Sure, it's crowded with hordes of people, but they're all there for a reason. There are more thermal features in Upper Geyser Basin than anywhere else in the world, and many of the geysers erupt almost continuously, so you WILL see geysers erupting. If you want to avoid crowds, go as early or as late in the season as you can. There will still be lots of people, but you will have plenty of elbow room.
After seeing virtually all of the geyser basins in Yellowstone, our favorite was the Upper Geyser Basin. In our opinion, it has the best thermal features. Of course, it's also the most crowded trail due to its proximity to many of the lodges. When we took this trail, however, we didn't have much problem with overcrowding because it was early in the season, and it was also a very cold day (we even had a brief blizzard in the morning). My favorite geyser was Beehive Geyser -- very powerful "jet" action. What a nice surprise to suddenly observe this geyser erupting just a few feet away. The eruption of Grotto Geyser was also quite fascinating to watch. Many of the thermal pools were very pretty -- Doublet Pool and Morning Glory Pool, for example. What a variety of exotic thermal features! :)
This is often a persons 1st stop at yellowstone and is arguably the parks most well known features. Despite heavy smoke from the summer fires there were several hundred (possibly over 1,000)people at Old faithful this day. There is a boardwalk that takes one past surrounding geysers and pits of boiling water. The clarity and color of the water is absolutely amazing. Once you get an estimate on when Old Faithful is expected to gush, take a stroll around the boardwalk to pass the time. With the number fo people around before Old Faithful "erupted" I felt like I was at a football game with all the cheering and shouting. Regardless it was still an amazing spectacle. Also if you are wondering if anyone has ever died in one of these scalding pits of water the answer is "yes". Several people have had this misfortune with the most recent being in the Summer of 2000. On a happier note if you are hoping to score some ice cream at the nearby gift shop RUN as soon as the geyser stops or you will be in line forever.
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