Lucky you! If you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park, you’ll get to see one of the world’s most famous natural attractions in action, Old Faithful. The beauty and power of this natural phenomenon is impressive to say the least. Though, it’s not as accurate as it once was, its predictability is still mind-boggling.
While you’re visiting this famous geyser, be sure not to miss out on these four things.
1) Don't Miss the Many Views of Old Faithful
From the Old Faithful Inn to the Old Faithful Lodge, crowds gather along a semi-circle of bleachers to wait for the show. Though, this gets you close to the action, we are not convinced it’s the best spot to watch the infamous geyser.
As we arrived a bit late for our first viewing, the only empty spots were in front of the Old Faithful Lodge. Indeed, it was a great view of Old Faithful in all her glory. Our disappointment comes from having nothing in the background to comprehend the scale of this great spout.
It’s worth checking out a few different views.
- Follow the boardwalk to the backside of the geyser to get photos with the Old Faithful Inn in the background.
- Take a hike to the Old Faithful Viewing Area for a view over the crowds. Just remember to bring bear spray.
- Grab a seat, and an ice cream, on the Old Faithful Inn outside balcony.
- On a hot day, you can even wait and watch for Old Faithful from the floor to ceiling windows in the air-conditioned visitor center.
Eruption intervals for Old Faithful range from 60 -110 minutes, with a tolerance of +/- 10 mins on either side of the prediction time. However, we watched three eruptions and each one was off by +/- 20 minutes. So, be patient.
Even though Old Faithful isn’t as faithful as it once was, it’s still worth waiting for. Other geysers have prediction tolerances of anywhere from +/- 20 minutes to +/- 90 minutes.
Predictions are also available on the downloadable NPS App. Though, internet is hard to get in the park and Verizon is the only network with any signal.
3) Don't Miss the Old Faithful Inn
Built in 1904, this national historic landmark is the largest log structure in the world. Made from local logs and stone, the lobby is incredible to see with its towering stone fireplace and a hand-crafted clock.
For a deeper historic look at the Old Faithful Inn, check at the lobby desk for the free tour times. Usually, they leave from the fireplace at 9:30am, 11:30am, 2pm, and 3:30pm.
As mentioned, you also won’t want to miss the view of Old Faithful from the second-floor balcony.
4) Don't Miss the Rest of Upper Geyser Basin
Though Old Faithful may be what you came to see, in our opinion it’s not the most spectacular attraction in the area. The entire Upper Geyser Basin is brimming with vibrant springs and bubbling geysers.
It’s also worth mentioning, we saw three other eruptions from unscheduled geysers, just walking around the Upper Geyser Basin. With so much to see, we had to dedicate a post just to the photos and attractions of the Upper Geyser Basin.
Where to Stay for Visiting Old Faithful
- We stayed in the park, at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, for our first three nights. However, you can’t get closer than a stay at the Old Faithful Inn, right in the Upper Geyser Basin. Typically, all the hotels in the park book out months in advance and the Old Faithful Inn is one of the first to fill up. Though, you may get lucky and find a cancellation about a month out.
- The nearest town to the center of the park, and a great choice for exploring Old Faithful, is West Yellowstone. We stayed at Yellowstone Park Hotel on our fourth night. The rooms were clean, comfortable, and the location was excellent for being outside the park.
Books on Yellowstone National Park
- Guidebook: We picked up the Lonely Planet Travel Guide for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Since we visited both parks on this trip, we felt it was good value.
- Photography & Guide Book: Whether you’re into photography or not, the book Photographing Yellowstone National Park: Where to Find Perfect Shots and How to Take Them (The Photographer’s Guide) makes a great guidebook if you want to be at the right place, at the right time.
- Hike Finder: With detailed descriptions, Best Easy Day Hikes Yellowstone National Park makes picking the best hike for you easy.