Observation Point - Hiking

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Hiking to Observation Point in Yellowstone National Park

Written by

Joseph Brian


2.2 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

12.1 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

2 hours


Summer and Fall

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


Park Entrance Fee



This short, sunny hike begins at the Old Faithful boardwalk and climbs to Observation Point and a commanding view of the entire Upper Geyser Basin including Old Faithful, the Firehole River, and the historic Old Faithful Inn. The route then continues past Solitary Geyser, which erupts frequently. If you have one day to spend in the Upper Geyser Basin, plan this hike to either begin or end with. See Old Faithful, the most famous geyser in the world, erupt along this trail. Stop in the historic Old Faithful Inn, a beautifully crafted lodge constructed with peg and notch, to complete the experience.

What Makes It Great

The trail begins by walking counter-clockwise around the Old Faithful boardwalk, followed by a right turn at the sign to Geyser Hill. The trailhead is on the right after the Firehole River Bridge. Switchbacks lead up the hill for another half mile to Observation Point. After a visit and picture at the point, continue west toward Solitary Geyser and a small break from the crowds. With some luck and a tip from the visitor center park rangers, you could see Solitary Geyser erupt. Return via the trail to the south, which brings hikers back to the other end of the Geyser Hill boardwalk and back to Old Faithful.

The Upper Geyser Basin is the largest concentration of geysers in the world. The various geysers, mud pots, fumaroles, hot springs, and other geothermal features in the Upper Geyser Basin and surrounding areas are the result of snowmelt runoff percolating into the ground and becoming superheated by the Yellowstone hotspot. 

A hotspot is a volcanic region where the underlying mantle, the layer between Earth’s crust and the inner core of the planet, is much hotter than the surrounding mantel. This heat causes the water to boil and expand upward to the surface through fissures and cracks in the earth’s crust. This same hotspot created the Yellowstone Caldera.

Who is Going to Love It

Anyone planning a day at the Upper Geyser Basin will love this hike. Beginner and intermediate hikers will love the easy grade of the hike and the views from Observation Point. Expert hikers, perhaps annoyed by the large crowds in Upper Geyser Basin, will love the hike and take it as a chance to slip away from the throngs for an hour or two. Anyone planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park should spend at least a day marveling at the geologic spectacle of the Upper Geyser Basin.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From the Old Faithful Interchange: Proceed east to the Old Faithful/Upper Geyser Basin Parking Area. Parking is free at the Upper Geyser Basin with an Entrance Pass.

Stay on the trails and boardwalks in all Yellowstone National Park geyser basins. People have been injured or have died as the result of coming in contact with boiling water in Yellowstone National Park. Scalding water underlies most of the thin, breakable crust in thermal areas.

Originally written for Sunlight Sports.

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