Lone Star Geyser ★★—Front-country geysers are spectacular, but there’s something extra-special about a backcountry spouter you have all to yourself (or more likely, to yourself and a few other hikers). Lone Star Geyser is one of the easiest ones to reach, and it’s predictable enough (eruptions happen every 3 hr. or so) to make catching its show likely: The 12-foot-high cone sprays water 45 feet in the air. Getting there means tracing the Firehole River on an old service road, passing intermittent meadows along the way; bikes can follow it almost all the way to the geyser. Check the register near the geyser to estimate the next eruption time.

4.8 miles round-trip. Easy. Access: Trailhead is at the parking lot opposite Kepler Cascades.

Mystic Falls ★★—Appreciate Yellowstone’s multitiered architecture firsthand on this loop past a booming cascade. From Biscuit Basin, trace the Little Firehole River, ascending gradually through an evergreen forest until you reach 70-foot Mystic Falls pouring off the lip of the Madison Plateau. This is a fine turnaround point for a 2.4-mile round-trip, but it’s worth the sweat equity to continue higher, grunting 500 feet uphill in a half-mile to the plateau’s top. Turn right on the Fairy Creek Trail and continue to a lookout: From here, Upper Geyser Basin spreads out below, dotted with steaming hydrothermals. Switchback down to close the loop.

advertisement

3 miles round-trip. Moderate to difficult. Access: Trailhead is on the far side of the Biscuit Basin boardwalk.

Observation Point & Solitary Geyser Loop ★★—An alternate look at Old Faithful’s famous eruption—with a grander scope, no less—is just a short climb away from the busy Upper Geyser Basin. From the boardwalk, ascend 160 feet in .8 mile up to the natural viewing platform of Observation Point, then enjoy the geyser doing its thing. Backtrack to the trail junction and turn west to hike through forest to Solitary Geyser. This frequent spouter steams in the middle of a wide, white circle, and its runoff has created a colorful, mineral-laden slope streaked with thermophile bacteria. Heading south down the hill takes you back to the boardwalk. 

2.2-mile loop. Easy to moderate. Access: Trailhead is at the Old Faithful boardwalk.

advertisement

Sentinel Meadows & Imperial Geyser Loop ★★—See backcountry hot springs and geysers, a National Historic Site, and Fairy Falls on this loop. Begin with a hike to Sentinel Meadows, a grassy area with thermal features, and the Queen’s Laundry Bathhouse, an unfinished building from 1881 that has been preserved by thermal minerals. Swing around to the south to follow Fairy Creek through lush meadows. You’ll pass Spray Geyser and Imperial Geyser (the latter can erupt up to 60 ft.) before reaching 200-foot Fairy Falls. Reconnect with Fountain Freight Road and return to your trailhead. This area can be boggy and buggy in early summer, so pack insect repellent.

10.5-mile loop. Easy. Access: Trailhead is at the end of Fountain Flat Drive.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.