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Hiking Observation Point

Observation point packs a knockout punch when it comes to a great overall view. We lined up with hundreds of other tourists minutes before Old Faithful was set to blow...

Stuck like fizz in a can of shook up soda, children, parents, and grandparents sat around the rim of the famous geyser waiting for their hopes to explode.

As luck would have it, Randi and I were headed away from the heat of the crowds. Pass tour buses with drivers without licenses, pass the kid who cursed out his brother and the family about to leave that kid behind, (hope he was ready to walk) we found the trail on the other side of the boardwalk. Up the summit, we passed maybe 5 other people on the way. The view made all the difference in the world. Old Faithful, along with a number of other famous geysers, stretched before our eyes like the “Disneyland” of National parks. (1)


Back in 1932, locals named this spot because of the way it overlooked the entire plane below. 2 Some believe the name came into play 15 years before this. Either way, the reason for the name obviously stands out. I just wish someone could have used a little more creative juice in finding the name—Old Faithful’s Hunchback, anyone?

Driving Directions

Follow the signs to Old Faithful. From the West Entrance, turn right at Madison Junction and drive 18 miles south until you hit Old Faithful’s parking lot. For turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps click here.

The Trail

Once you reach the boardwalk, walk counter-clockwise (E) until you pass the Yellowstone Lodge, minus the pretty girl.

Randi in front of Yellowstone Lodge
Map of Old Faithful area
From the boardwalk the Observation Point Loop Trail branches off to the right. Walk a total of .2 miles until you cross this bridge over the Firehole River.

Randi & I near Firehole River
On the other side of the river, take the trail on your right (E) and walk .3 miles to the base of Observation Point. This is the start of the Observation Point Loop Trail. You should see this sign once you cross the river to let you know that your on the right path.

Beautiful sign to Observation Point
Now, this next step is very important. At the base of the 200 feet Observation Point this beauty of a sign pops up. Walk .1 miles to the top. (Or in the case of bears, run faster than the slowest person in your group.)

Sign at base of Observation Point
View from the top (no photoshop)
Once you pass this sign, there is no going back (just kidding). On your way back down the loop, for extra adventure follow the signs to the Solitary Geyser.

In .3 miles you hit the temperamental Solitary Geyser. When I say temperamental, I mean teenage girl throwing a fit because she can’t find her cell phone and her boyfriend just texted her kinda temperamental.

Solitary Geyser (the one some dude created with a pipe)
Seriously, this geyser erupts 4 feet every 5 to 7 minutes. And how does something like this happen, you ask? All because some guy wanted to tap into a hot spring with a pipe. He accidently created this geyser in the process. But I’m not complaining. The view is pretty sweet. Who said construction was harmful to the environment?

Walk another .3 miles until you meet back up with the Geyser Hill Loop Trail. You will see a sign that looks like the one below point you back up the hill from where you just came. (But don’t follow it, unless you really like retracing your steps and seeing the same things over and over again.)

Take a right at the fork in the boardwalk (W), and walk .4 miles to Sawmill Geyser. I promise all these crazy directions and places are worth your time. Just on the other side of the bridge sits Castle Geyser. Both Sawmill and Castle Geyser provide great views of nature at work. From the bridge back across the Firehole River, walk .75 miles to the parking lot to complete the loop.

Castle Geyer

Observation Point Trail Map

View Larger Map

Labels: Guides

1 Schmidt, W. (1982, February 21). Yellowstone National Park: Quiet but still spectacular in winter. Chicago Tribune, pp 11.
2 Whitney, L. (2006). Yellowstone Place Names. (pp. 191) New York, NY: Wonderland Publishing.

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