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Things to do in Yellowstone: Old Faithful Eruption

Old Faithful eruption in Yellowstone National Park

The Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park is not the only geyser in the park. There are over 10,000 hydrothermal features in Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful isn’t even the largest geyser or most active geyser. On average, around 450 geysers erupt in Yellowstone each year. Old Faithful is the most active of the large geysers. It is also the first geyser within the park to be named. This cone geyser was named during the Washburn Expedition in 1870. Here’s what you need to know about viewing the Old Faithful eruption.

Watching the Old Faithful Geyser erupt in Yellowstone National Park in photos

Old Faithful Geyser Times

According to the national park website, the average interval between the Old Faithful geyser eruptions is 60 to 110 minutes.  It erupts for 1 1/2 to 5 minutes at a height of 106 to 184 feet. While it’s nearly impossible to predict Old Faithful geyser times, you can count on at least an hour from the last to the next Old Faithful eruption. If you arrive to find everyone leaving, chances are good that you’ve just missed an eruption. 

Watching the Old Faithful Geyser erupt in Yellowstone National Park in photos

Each eruption expels between 3,700 – 8,400 gallons of boiling water.

Watching the Old Faithful Geyser erupt in Yellowstone National Park in photos

It doesn’t look like it, but those benches that are provided for visitors of the park to sit while they wait for Old Faithful to erupt are 300 feet away from the geyser.

Watching the Old Faithful Geyser erupt in Yellowstone National Park in photos

Old Faithful Visitor Center

It may be debatable as to where to find the best seat to enjoy the view of the erupting geyser. I’d encourage visitors to skip the seating near the geyser and sit back a bit further. The few benches outside the Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria provided what I thought was the perfect vantage point for the show and according to our bench mates, the added distance provided a better view of the entire geyser.

Watching the Old Faithful Geyser erupt in Yellowstone National Park in photos

Don’t forget to pop into the Old Faithful Visitor Center while you are here. You can learn a lot about the various thermal features in Yellowstone, including other geysers, mud pots, hot springs, and fumaroles. If you plan on hiking in Yellowstone, you might talk to the rangers on duty to find out if there are other geysers you can hike to and enjoy without the crowds at Old Faithful. 

Old Faithful Inn

With advance planning, you can even stay overnight in the lodge at Old Faithful or enjoy a family meal at the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room. An added bonus of staying at the Inn is that you can enjoy the Old Faithful eruption in the early morning or late evening once most of the tourists have gone home. 

Did you know there are also cabins in Yellowstone? The Rough Rider cabins are an excellent budget-friendly alternative to camping in Yellowstone!

Old Faithful Eruption

Here’s a short video that shows the Old Faithful geyser eruption. It doesn’t show the entire eruption, but I think you’ll get the picture.

More than three million people visit Yellowstone National Park each year to see the geyser and other natural attractions that offer spectacular views.

Do you know the national park system turned 100 in August of 2016? Read this post to learn why now is a perfect time to support our park system with a National Parks Pass.

Do you have plans to visit a national park this year? Which one? 


Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

Saturday 15th of August 2015

Seeing Old Faithful erupt was my birthday present to myself last month. We had front-row seats. It was very impressive, but I do think that your photos from far away give a better sense of scale. In all, I ended up seeing it 4 times, once at about 10PM when we were leaving the lodge after dinner. No one else was around. My daughter did the Junior Ranger program and calculated when the next eruption was based on what time the previous eruption started and how long it lasted. I really enjoyed seeing all your Instagram posts during your trip as it helped get me even more excited about following in your footsteps a few weeks later.


Saturday 15th of August 2015

Seeing Old Faithful erupt without others around would have been very cool. Yes, that would have been a great birthday present. Happy belated birthday!

Lydia C. Lee

Friday 14th of August 2015

We went to the Volcano national park on Big island this year - that's the only US one we've been to. We go regularly here, but not their least not to my knowledge. Great shots of the Geyser - you really see the height of the spout!

Rachel Heller

Friday 14th of August 2015

I've been to Old Faithful and Yellowstone and highly recommend it, though off-season is better, with fewer people. Something about watching that geyser seemed scary to me. It's a reminder of all sorts of activity going on all the time under the ground and how we have no control over it!


Friday 14th of August 2015



Friday 14th of August 2015

My goodness, I'm jealous! I definitely need to see that in person. Protection Status
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