Does It Cost to See Old Faithful?
Old Faithful has been thrilling visitors to Yellowstone National Park for over 150 years. It’s a natural phenomenon with seemingly unending fascination.
Millions of visitors every year flock to watch Old Faithful shoot hot steaming water high above the ground. Pictures and videos abound on the internet, but they don’t do it justice.
So, today we’ll take a closer look at Old Faithful and see why it’s one of the top attractions in Yellowstone.
About Old Faithful
The Washburn Expedition discovered the Old Faithful in 1870, two years before Yellowstone became the first national park. They noted its frequent and somewhat regular eruptions and decided Old Faithful was an appropriate name.
Early visitors to the area often used the geyser to do their laundry. They’d toss dirty clothes into the crater and wait for Old Faithful to eject them during the next eruption. It sure sounds a lot more fun than going to the laundromat!
Geysers require a volcanic heat source, ample ground water, and a fracture, or fissure, in the ground surface. The amount of boiling water released from Old Faithful ranges from 3,700 to 8,400 gallons. Depending on the amount released, the eruptions will last anywhere from 1.5 to 5 minutes.
It’s difficult to know precisely how long Old Faithful has been erupting. Experts estimate it’s at least a few thousand years old.
It’s one of the main attractions in Yellowstone, and its regular activity continues to impress millions of visitors every year.
There are four additional geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin near Old Faithful worth checking out.
Do I Have to Pay to See Old Faithful?
To see Old Faithful, you need to pay $35 for a Yellowstone entrance pass. The fee is the same for autos or RVs and is $30 for motorcycles. The pass is good for seven days after you’ve entered, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the rest of the park.
There’s no extra charge to visit Old Faithful or any other geysers within the park boundaries.
Pro Tip: Save some time by purchasing a pass online, then downloading it to your phone or tablet.
Pro Tip: Yellowstone is full of many things to see. Unsure what to do first? This is How to Spend a Day in Yellowstone National Park.
How Often Does Old Faithful Go?
Eruptions happen approximately 17 times every day. The average time between them is 60-110 minutes. While it may not be the largest or most regular geyser in Yellowstone, it’s the most frequent to erupt.
Park Rangers have been able to create a schedule of times when you can see Old Faithful erupt. However, every day can be slightly different since they must base the timing on the length and amount of water from the last eruption.
Basically, it’s challenging to plan an exact time to see the eruption. If you miss one, there are plenty of other nearby sights to check out while you wait.
Viewing areas to watch eruptions include bleachers and the balcony at the Old Faithful Lodge. If you’re up for a short uphill hike, one of the best viewpoints is at Observation Point. You’ll enjoy a vantage point from 250 feet above Old Faithful.
Catching an eruption in the early morning or late afternoon is ideal if you don’t want to be around large crowds. A visit in the winter may just get you your own private viewing since fewer people visit the park that time of year.
Schedules are posted at the Old Faithful Visitor Center as well as on mobile apps and social media.
Could Old Faithful Dry Up?
It’s possible, but not for quite a while. Recent climate studies indicate Old Faithful could stop erupting due to rising temperatures and reduced snowpack. Fortunately, we have until the end of the century before that’s looking like a reality.
Pro Tip: Safety comes first when exploring national parks! Don’t know which one is safest to explore? We uncovered The Most Dangerous National Parks in the USA.
Best Hikes Near Old Faithful
Yellowstone offers over 900 miles of hiking trails, from easy to very strenuous. Depending on when you’re visiting, you’ll want to take trail conditions into account before starting your hike. Boardwalk trails can be slick on cold or rainy days, while dirt paths can turn rather muddy.
Grand Prismatic Hot Spring
This trail gives you an up-close view of the world’s largest hot spring in the US. But don’t try to swim in the water! The temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and swimming is not allowed.
The 1.6-mile loop boardwalk trail is excellent for everyone. Visitors in wheelchairs and strollers can even enjoy the trail with you.
Parts of the path don’t have handrails, so be sure to keep little ones close to you.
Mystic Falls, Fairy Creek, and Little Firehole Loop
This 3.5-mile loop hike offers fantastic views, a waterfall, and hot springs all in one. There’s an uphill climb to the top, but your reward will be a breathtaking panorama. Time it right, and you’re likely to catch Old Faithful erupt.
You’ll want to bring binoculars to take in the surrounding geysers and wildlife that you’ll be able to see from the trail.
Best Places to Stay Near Old Faithful
Located 16 miles from Old Faithful, this campground is a favorite among many visitors. The Madison River is within walking distance from the campsites and is a great fishing spot. It’s not unusual to see bison and elk roaming the campground too.
Tents and RVs 30’ or less can reserve sites for $28 per night. None of the sites have hookups, but there is a dump and potable water station near the entrance.
Madison Campground is relatively close to Old Faithful. But factors like weather, animals on the road, and time of year could add to your travel time.
Old Faithful Inn
Built in 1903, the Old Faithful Inn is the world’s largest log structure. Measuring about 700 feet in length and seven stories tall, it’s an impressive piece of architecture.
The famous geyser is just steps away, so you’ll have plenty of chances to see it erupt.
The Inn’s restaurant and cafe offer everything from a quick snack to a satisfying meal after a day of exploring the park.
While there are other lodging options throughout the park, this is the most requested of them all. Be sure to book your stay well in advance.
Is a Trip to Old Faithful Worth It?
There’s certainly plenty to explore within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. But no visit to the park would be complete without watching at least one eruption from Old Faithful.
The park is considered one of the seven natural wonders in North America. You could easily spend a week exploring Yellowstone and still only scratch the surface of all it offers.
Have you been to Yellowstone National Park and seen Old Faithful? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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