Old Faithful Geyser – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming - Atlas Obscura

Old Faithful Geyser

One of nature's most well-scheduled phenomenons resides in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park. 


Natural phenomena aren’t known for their punctuality. Hurricanes show up late, avalanches could happen at any moment, and no one even knows where to find earthquakes half the time. But there is at least one amazing occurrence in this world that’s so good at meeting expectations, it’s actually named after its predictability.

The Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming erupts every 92 minutes (on average) – a timeframe it’s so good at keeping, crowds of people gather around the geyser on bleachers and benches to see it at just the right moment, as though it’s performing on a stage.

And it is indeed a show worth watching–Old Faithful spews a giant stream of water straight into the air, reaching heights of 130 to 190 feet. The timeliness and over-the-top nature of this phenomenon come from the enormous pressures found in the underground spring which, like a giant tea kettle, is filled with boiling water that reaches enormous pressures. The pressure builds so quickly, it escapes in a spectacular column of steam and boiling water with a force typically unheard of, even in the geyser community.

Unfortunately, riding the geyser is not an option–unless it’s your last wish. The ejected water reaches a temperature of more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and the surrounding steam is a scalding 350 degrees. But that doesn’t stop nature fans from flocking to catch a close-up glimpse of Old Faithful, because not only the schedule but also the trajectory is the same every time. It is without a doubt a safe way to watch one of nature’s most violent events – and you don’t even need millions of dollars in delicate monitoring equipment to know when to look.

Know Before You Go

Parking can be limited during the summer rush, especially midday. All park visitor centers have the predicted times for the eruptions, so you can check with them to plan ahead and avoid congested times at Old Faithful.Gas is available at two nearby gas stations. Meals and snacks are available too at nearby Old Faithful Inn, Old Faithful Lodge, the Snow Lodge, and Hamilton's Stores

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