Old Faithful in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park is undoubtedly the world's most recognizable geyser and was aptly named by an 1870 expedition for its remarkable consistency. Unlike most thermal features in the park, its heights, intervals and length of eruption have changed very little in 100 years. It erupts about every 92 minutes, or 18–21 times every day.
Although Old Faithful is neither the largest, nor highest geyser in Yellowstone, it’s by far the most regular. The time-sensitive column of boiling water normally reaches an average height of 130 in just 15 to 20 seconds. After about 20 more seconds, the water column lowers rapidly. The eruption ends with a few puffs of steam for an always appreciative crowd of visitors from across the globe. On average, about 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of water are shot out of the ground. For a vantage point away from the ground-level benches and viewing areas, hike up to Observation Point and take in this behemoth from 250 feet above; the view gives an entirely new perspective of the utter uniqueness of geysers.
What to Do In Between Old Faithful’s Eruptions
More than half of the world’s geysers are found in Yellowstone, so there’s plenty of sightseeing to be done in between its eruptions. Old Faithful is a part of the Upper Geyser Basin, a concentration of hundreds of geothermal features. Wander through the Old Faithful Area’s nine hiking trails
and discover these other standout hydrothermal spots:
Morning Glory Pool: This hot spring is dazzling in transparency with its blue color and plunging depth.
Beehive Geyser: Beehive looks like a spraying hose, with a cone shape spewing 130–190 feet into the sky.
The Lion Group: Four geysers are connected underground and make an earth-rumbling sound before eruption (hence the name).
Grand Geyser: This fountain geyser can reach up to 200 feet, making visitors to feel quite insignificant next its hydro wall.
Heart Spring: This hot spring’s name is due to its heart-like shape — we’ll let you try to see if you can find the resemblance.
Next door is the Old Faithful Area Historic District
. Stop at the Lower Hamilton Store, built in 1897, for a sheltered view of Geyser Hill. Or follow the less-known Howard Eaton Trail, a historic route named after an adventurous guide during the park’s early history, that takes hikers from the historic district southeast to the Lone Start Geyser.
Stop by the National Historic Landmark Old Faithful Inn
. Architect Robert C. Reamer based its design on natural inspirations. Built at the turn of the century, the interior is meant to portray the disarray and beauty of nature, something that was surely inspired by the many unpredictable geological features in Yellowstone. The perfectly constructed combination of timber, stone and towering ceiling in the lobby is a grandiose experience worth seeing
Visiting in Winter?
Like all of Mother Nature, Old Faithful doesn’t shut down for the winter season. In fact, witnessing the geyser after a fresh snowfall presents a beautiful and delicate contrast between the winter wonderland you’re standing in and the earth’s boiling insides.
Stop at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins
for a cozy place to stay or to rent snowshoes and skis. Explore the Old Faithful Area solo or with a knowledgeable guide, and at the end of the day, reward yourself with a steamin’ cup of hot cocoa in the fireside lounge.
Read our Winter Guide to Yellowstone
for trip ideas while visiting Yellowstone National Park during the winter season.