Five-Geyser Day

What an absolutely gorgeous day in the Old Faithful area. The sky is so blue it looks like God Photoshopped it! There is no wind making 50° feel much warmer. Most everything except the Visitor’s Center is closed for the season which translates into very few people and bring your own lunch. I want to check if the rangers are still noting eruption times for the most predictable geysers at the Information Desk in the VC. I’ve yet to see Castle Geyser erupt and I’m hoping today is the day. WOW, we are in luck. Old Faithful is due to erupt in two minutes. Well, that’s give or take ten minutes, but Castle Geyser is expected to erupt 45 minutes later. A beautiful day and very few people making for a quiet, relaxing stroll around Upper Geyser Basin. Thar she blows!


Old Faithful is not the largest or the most regular geyser in Yellowstone, but it is the largest regular geyser. Get that one? Old Faithful erupts about every 92 minutes, give or take about 10 minutes. You cannot set your watch by it, but you won’t have to wait too long to get a glorious show. Eruptions last about two to five minutes. Occasionally there will be a 20 foot eruption that settles back down and then the true eruption begins, anywhere from 100 to 180 feet high, but typically reaching 130 to 140 feet. The water temperature at the vent is around 204° but the steam temperature has been measured at over 350°! Now you know why the rangers keep you safely on the boardwalk.

Time to head to Castle Geyser. Castle Geyser is a cone-type geyser and has the largest cone in Yellowstone. Geologists believe this is a very old spring, estimating the age of its 12 foot high cone to be 5,000 to 15,000 years. However, it sits on top of an even older and much bigger sinter formation deposited by an even earlier spring.


Castle Geyser typically erupts at an interval of between 9 and 11 hours. However, Castle can have minor eruptions that abruptly stop after a few minutes. When this happens the geyser becomes unpredictable until its next major eruption. Let’s hope we are on schedule today. An eruption!


A typical eruption is between 60 and 90 feet high, but I don’t think we’ll see that today. Castle usually has an eruption about 20 minutes long then a steam phase for about 40 minutes which can be quite loud, or so I’m told. Not seeing that today either. Well, this is the first time I’ve seen Castle erupt at all, so I’m happy, how about you?

What is interesting is that the smaller features and the hot springs in this area near Castle Geyser have gotten more active since we’ve been sitting here. I’ve never read anything stating an eruption of Castle Geyser results in more activity in the surrounding thermal features. Very interesting to see. Right behind us is Shield Spring. Usually it is just a still pool, but now it is boiling and overflowing the rim. It is also making some hissing noise.


Crested Pool on the far side of Castle is erupting and boiling even more than usual.


A small spring near Castle keeps erupting and sometimes a bit higher than I’ve ever seen. I think it is Tortoise Shell Spring, but don’t hold me to that. See it to the left?


A young man just stopped to say that Grand Geyser is showing signs of erupting. Last time I walked to Grand, people had already been waiting six hours with no eruption, but it is such a gorgeous day, why not? He may be right, there is a small sign of geyser activity to the far left, see it? Grand Geyser is very grand, erupting up to about 180 feet high. It is closely connected to many geysers in its immediate area. The connection can best be seen by Vent Geyser and Turban Geyser, and that my be Turban Geyser we see. Before an eruption of Grand, Turban erupts about every 20 minutes for about 5 minutes. Let’s get over there.


We’ll just have a seat in the sun. What a day! We talked of bobby sock trees before, but with the grand scale of Grand Geyser so close to these trees, the entire dead tree turns white. The pool right in front of us is called West Triplet Geyser. It can erupt up to 10 feet a few times a day, but not always. It is filling with water, then water is receding so it must be connected to Grand Geyser.


Oh my! We’ll never get over there in time, but we can see and hear the people yelling, both Beehive Geyser (right) and Lion Geyser (left) are erupting. Both are on Geyser Hill which we can see through the steam of Spasmodic Geyser, which has very sporadic eruptions, but has a small eruption right now. What an incredibly active day. Well, if this is the day Yellowstone explodes, it’s been nice knowing you–OK, OK, only kidding. All this erupting means the system is venting and that’s healthy, especially for us.


Beehive Geyser, to the right, usually erupts in intervals of eight hours to a few days and there have been times when it has become dormant. It is not very predictable. It has a four-foot cone and is one of the tallest geysers in Yellowstone with a plume measured up to 218 feet.

Lion is mostly known for the roaring sound it makes as it puffs steam. It can reach between 50-90 feet and lasts for seven minutes. It erupts in a series of 1 to 30 eruptions with the first in the series the most dramatic. We didn’t get a great look at either of them, but we did see them!

Well, we have been waiting for 45 minutes to see Grand Geyser. It is pretty quiet here now and all the usual eruption indicators have stopped. I left my sunscreen in the car and I’m getting a bit red, plus we have a long drive home, so let’s head back. We are near the bridge to cross the Firehole River, and there’s a nice view of the Old Faithful Inn. It is closed now until next spring. There’s Chimney Cone which has an opening on the far side of its cone that releases water into the river.


We are just about back to the car, so let’s turn around for one more look. Wouldn’t you know it! Grand is erupting and look at the size of that plume compared to the people standing to the left. Spectacular! Now I have another excuse to come back to the Old Faithful area–to see Grand Geyser erupt as I stand nearby. I know what you are thinking–like she needs an excuse. You are right.


What an amazing day! A spectacular five geyser day! We saw Old Faithful Geyser, Castle Geyser, Beehive Geyser, Lion Geyser, and Grand Geyser. Considering three of the five are very unpredictable and they all range in eruption times from every 92 minutes to every three or more days, what are the chances that we would see them all erupt in less than three hours. A very special day, in a very beautiful place, and we got a little bit of a sun tan too. Life is good my friend!

Until next time, keep smilin’ . . .


8 thoughts on “Five-Geyser Day

  1. Makes me miss my days of working at the Inn! Lots of good memories from that and from years of visits with my family. Castle is my son’s favorite geyser. We saw Grand last May when we visited the park. Thanks for sharing!

    • Joy says:

      Thanks Mindy. Yellowstone, needless to say, is very special to me and will be for the rest of my life! Hope you come for a visit soon!

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