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Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park
Fast Facts




Old Faithful District
Yellowstone Nat'l Park
Wyoming 82190
Natural Wonder
Points of Interest Nearby

Clesydra Geyser, Fountain Paint Pots


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

Lower Geyser Basin, 18 square miles (29 km2) in size, is the largest geyser basin in Yellowstone National Park. It is home to roughly 100 hydrothermal features of all four types - hot springs, geysers, fumaroles and mud pots. And it discharges more hot water than any other geyser basin in the park. But what makes the trek to Lower Geyser Basin truly worth the effort is its accessibility. Fountain Freight Road is open to both foot traffic and cyclists and it is wheelchair accessible to Goose Lake Picnic Area. The mud pots at Fountain Paint Pots are Yellowstone's most easily reached pools of hot bubbling mud. The hydrothermal features at Firehole Lake Drive are all visible from the roadway. Even Great Fountain Geyser, one of only six predicable geysers in Yellowstone National Park, can be viewed from the car!
Getting There
Lower Geyser Basin, located between Old Faithful and Madison, includes the Fountain Flats, Fountain Paint Pots and Firehole Lake areas. Fountain Flats Drive departs Grand Loop Road 5 miles (8 km) south of Madison. Fountain Paints Pots is located midway between Old Faithful and Madison, 8 miles (13 km) each way. Firehole Lake Drive, a 3-mile one-way road, is located 7 miles (11 km) north of Old Faithful. The road from Old Faithful to Madison Junction is open to wheeled vehicles from mid-April through October and is open to oversnow vehicles from mid-December to mid-March.
Getting Around
Lower Geyser Basin trails vary in length and grade. Fountain Paint Pot Trail is an easy ½-mile (0.8 km) loop. The trail is wooden boardwalk but it is only partially accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. Apart from the short boardwalk at Black Warrior Group there is no walking at Firehole Lake Drive. All the features at this thermal area can be viewed from your vehicle. Fountain Flats trails are backcountry treks. The 1.5-mile (2.5 km) Fountain Flats Drive ends at a parking lot and offers access to Fountain Freight Road, Sentinel Meadows Trail and Fairy Falls Trail. (Fountain Freight Road and Fairy Falls Trail have a second trailhead just south of Midway Geyser Basin.) Fountain Freight Road is 5.5 miles (9 km) one-way. The trail, an old roadbed, is open to hikers and mountain bikers and is wheelchair accessible to Goose Lake. Sentinel Meadows Trail is an easy 3-mile (5 km) ramble. The Sentinel Meadows trailhead is located at the Fountain Flats Drive parking lot. Fairy Falls Trail is an easy 7-mile (11 km) hike. The Fairy Falls trailhead is located on Fountain Freight Road. This trail is open to x-country skiers in winter. NB: Check the ranger station for trail closings before you set out. Be bear aware. Maintain a safe distance from all wildlife, 100 yards (91m) from bears and wolves and 25 yards (23m) from all other animals. Be sure to pull your car of the roadway when parking at roadside turnouts and overlooks.
Things to Keep in Mind
Keep to boardwalks and trails. Swimming and bathing is prohibited in all hot spring pools. Do not throw objects into geothermal features. There is little shade and no concessions in Lower Geyser Basin. Pack water and snacks. Wear sunscreen and hats. Bison and elk are frequently sighted in Fountain Flats and Sentinel Meadows.
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