Observation Point Loop

SUMMARY: Escape from the thousands of tourists that crowd the boardwalks adjacent to Old Faithful Geyser every 90 minutes to watch one of Nature’s amazing shows. Observation Point is about 200 feet above the valley floor north of Old Faithful Geyser. The easy climb from the Footbridge across the Firehole River will give you a commanding view of the famous geyser with Old Faithful Inn in the background. Plan to start your hike no less than 30 minutes before the predicted time of Old Faithful’s next eruption. The trailhead is located on the right, just past the Footbridge north of Old Faithful Geyser. Chattering squirrels scamper alongside the trail as you hike through new growth forest and up switchbacks to Observation Point. The massive wildfires of 1988 came dangerously close to the Old Faithful Inn, but the regrowth that followed created new habitat for a diversity of plant and animal species. From Observation Point, enjoy a birds eye view of the Upper Geyser Basin and, if you’ve timed it right, Old Faithful Geyser erupting. Next, continue on the Observation Point Loop Trail to remote Solitary Geyser, which erupts out of a cloudy turquoise pool every four to ten minutes. Continue on the Loop Trail to the Geyser Hill Boardwalk. Turning to the left will take you back to the Footbridge just north of Old Faithful Geyser (for a roundtrip hike of 1.4 miles). An alternative to returning to where the hike started is to turn right following the trail downstream on the north side of the Firehole River. There are numerous geysers to see along this walk and two footbridges across the River so that you do not have to retrace your steps. This easy hike provides great views of Yellowstone’s geysers and the numerous thermal features that drain into the Firehole River giving the River its name. The Loop Trail, the boardwalks and asphalt paths are well maintained. The trail is restricted to foot travel.

RATING: Easy 1.4 mile roundtrip.

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO HIKE: Late May until the snow flies (mid-September to early October)It is recommended that you check with a ranger at the Old Faithful Visitors Center to get the latest report on the Observation Point Loop Trail’s condition and make sure it is free of snow and ice. The Old Faithful Visitors Center is located a short distance east of Old Faithful Inn.

AMOUNT OF TIME NEEDED: A fit hiker might complete the 1.4 mile Loop in less than one hour. Keep in mind that the estimated eruption times of Old Faithful and other geysers are just that. It is recommended that you allow a leisurely 1 ½ hours. Why rush? Observe many geysers erupting. Photograph buffalo grazing amongst the colorful thermal features with Old Faithful Inn in the background. While tourists are restricted to designated boardwalks, asphalt paths and trails, Yellowstone’s buffalo are free to wander amongst the thermal features. Take your time enjoying Yellowstone’s amazing thermal features that draw visitors from all around the World.

DIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD: Walk out the front door of the Old Faithful Visitors Center toward Old Faithful Geyser to the Boardwalk. From the Old Faithful Geyser Boardwalk, in front of the Visitors Center, walk counterclockwise around the Boardwalk until the sign for Geyser Hill. Turn right down an asphalt trail to the Firehole River and cross on the Footbridge.