There Are Bigger And Better Geysers Than Old Faithful In Yellowstone

Old Faithful may be the most famous geyser on the planet, but Yellowstone visitors who want a truly unique experience can see bigger and even more spectacular geysers if they’re willing to go an extra mile or two.

Andrew Rossi

September 09, 20237 min read

Geysers composite
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Watching an eruption of Old Faithful is one of the watershed moments of anyone's first visit to Yellowstone National Park. It's also the only experience most visitors ever have with a geyser.

What makes Old Faithful so popular? A century and a half of promotion helps, but it's a combination of elements that make it iconic: predictable eruptions, a fantastic display of water and steam, impressive height and the ever-present element of danger.

But there are more than 10,000 thermal features within Yellowstone's boundaries, including more than 500 geysers. All it takes is a few steps away from the thousands of people on the Old Faithful boardwalk to find any number of hidden gem geysers that give Old Faithful a run for its money.


An Old Faithful eruption usually reaches a height of 184 feet, making it one of the tallest geysers in Yellowstone, but it's far from No. 1.

No list of great Yellowstone geysers would be complete without the mighty Steamboat in the Norris Geyser Basin. It doesn't erupt as frequently as Old Faithful, but Steamboat's eruptions are considerably higher at over 300 feet, making it the tallest active geyser on the planet.

When Steamboat erupts, it sends water hundreds of feet into the air with eruptions are so massive the water in nearby Cistern Spring gets sucked into Steamboat's plumbing to be pushed out of the massive geyser.

Few people are lucky to see a Steamboat eruption, although the geyser recently went through an active period with 48 eruptions in 2020. It's calmed down since then, but Steamboat has always been unpredictable, adding to its allure.

Grand Geyser is a neighbor of Old Faithful in the Upper Geyser Basin, but it has the title of the Tallest Predictable Geyser in the world. Every six or seven hours, Grand Geyser sends water up to 200 feet in the air for up to 12 minutes.

Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park.
Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. (Getty Images)


Old Faithful might have the best presentation of any geyser, but the National Park Service has spent years and a lot of resources to make it a carefully cultivated experience. Other geysers rely on their natural beauty to wow visitors.

Picturesque is a good descriptor of any geyser, but none are more so than Riverside Geyser. Located in the Upper Basin, Riverside Geyser erupts from a platform of travertine rock jutting out into the Firehole River.

Every five to seven hours, Riverside sends water 75 feet into the air for about 20 minutes. A rainbow is always guaranteed as the water falls into the Firehole River. It's a perfect spot to sit and admire the unexpected beauty of steam and water.

Castle Geyser is right down the boardwalk from Old Faithful in the Upper Geyser Basin, but it stands out thanks to its cone. It took 5,000 to 15,000 years for Mother Nature to carve out the 12-foot turret of geyserite, which is the unique mineral that forms the rock surrounding geysers.

When Castle Geyser erupts, usually for 20 minutes every 14 hours, it can reach up to 90 feet tall, not too far behind its famous neighbor. But a Castle Geyser eruption is noisy and chaotic, as water and steam are forced through its cone.

Grotto Geyser is picturesque and predictable. Every six hours, the oddly shaped geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin sends a 75-foot arch of water across the Firehole River.

  • Riverside Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.
    Riverside Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. (Getty Images)
  • A rainbow created by Riverside Geyser.
    A rainbow created by Riverside Geyser. (Getty Images)

Element Of Danger

Geysers are spectacular and dangerous, as searing hot water erupts from the earth and splashes wherever they like. But at least one active geyser in Yellowstone erupts with an acidic touch.

Like many thermal features in the Norris Geyser Basin, Echinus Geyser is slightly acidic (about the same acidity as vinegar). It was once the only predictable geyser in Norris and is still the largest active acidic geyser in the world.

Echinus Geyser used to shoot water 30 to 40 feet in the air every 90 minutes. Now it operates on its own schedule and erupts less frequently, but it remains steaming hot and acidic.

Beehive Geyser puts on a show when it erupts, usually twice daily. A lucky tourist might get a photo of Beehive and Old Faithful erupting simultaneously since they're so close to each other in the Upper Geyser Basin.

Unlike Old Faithful, Beehive Geyser is unpredictable. Visitors might find themselves on the boardwalk during an eruption as Beehive shoots a 150-foot plume of water over it. And the geyser's average temperature is almost 200 degrees.

Any geyser can be dangerous and potentially deadly. At least 19 people have died in Yellowstone's thermal features in the park's recorded history, and countless others have suffered serious burns.

Boardwalks are there for a reason, after all.

Echinus Geyser
Echinus Geyser (Cowboy State Daily Staff)


Old Faithful isn't as faithful as it once was, but visitors are still guaranteed an eruption every 90 minutes or so, and there's a giant clock in the Old Faithful Visitor Center that counts down each eruption. Many of the park's geysers have their own reliable eruption timetables.

One of the most reliable geysers in Yellowstone is the Daisy Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin. Daisy erupts less frequently than Old Faithful, but generally spouts off every two to 3.5 hours. When it does, it shoots water to a height of 75 feet for three to five minutes.

Then there's the Great Fountain Geyser, one of many overlooked thermal features in the Lower Geyser Basin. Eruptions happen every 11 to 14 hours and can last as long as an hour.

Great Fountain Geyser's normal eruption height is around 100 feet. But in the past, “superbursts " have gone as high as 200 feet, higher than Old Faithful.

Great Fountain Geyser erupts in Yellowstone.
Great Fountain Geyser erupts in Yellowstone. (Getty Images)

Off The Beaten Path

Let's face it, everyone would like Old Faithful more if it wasn't so busy. At the peak of summer, thousands of people line the boardwalk facing the geyser, waiting for the right moment to pull out their phones for a selfie or profile pic.

Lone Star Geyser is much less populated than Old Faithful, probably because it's a 3-mile round-trip hike to experience it. But a 30-minute eruption is almost guaranteed every three hours.

Lone Star Geyser sends water 45 feet into the air when it erupts, which isn't terribly tall. But it makes up for a lesser height by being much less busy. A trip to Lone Star Geyser can a personal piece of Yellowstone just a little way off the beaten path.

More adventurous geyser enthusiasts might consider a trek to the Shoshone Geyser Basin. It's an 8-mile hike to reach it (unless you're up to a canoe trip across the Lewis and Shoshone lakes), putting it well beyond the scope of an average Yellowstone visit.

The Shoshone Geyser Basin is home to more than 40 geysers, with names even regular Yellowstone visitors might not know, like the Union and Minute Man geysers. It's like a glimpse into the past before the crowds and boardwalks descended on the park. Even Old Faithful fans can appreciate that.

Lone Star Geyser
Lone Star Geyser (Getty Images)

Why Old Faithful?

There's never enough time to see everything in Yellowstone National Park. That may be why Old Faithful is and will remain the most famous geyser on the planet.

While many geysers can beat Old Faithful when it comes to height, beauty and reliability, no other has it all. It's not necessarily the best at anything, but the best of everything.

But nothing is forever. Eventually, Old Faithful will erupt less frequently or cease altogether. It's a fate that awaits all the geysers in Yellowstone.

That's why it's important to follow the boardwalks (and never leave them) to see more incredible geysers as they make their own shows on their own timetables in the shadow of the most famous geyser in the world.

  • Beehive Geyser in Yellowstone.
    Beehive Geyser in Yellowstone. (Getty Images)
  • Castle Geyser
    Castle Geyser (Getty Images)
  • Beehive Geyser and its vent both erupt.
    Beehive Geyser and its vent both erupt. (Getty Images)
  • Old Faithful with a rainbow. While the most popular geyser in Yellowstone National Park, there are plenty of others work straying a little off the beaten path to see.
    Old Faithful with a rainbow. While the most popular geyser in Yellowstone National Park, there are plenty of others work straying a little off the beaten path to see. (Getty Images)

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Andrew Rossi

Features Reporter

Andrew Rossi is a features reporter for Cowboy State Daily based in northwest Wyoming. He covers everything from horrible weather and giant pumpkins to dinosaurs, astronomy, and the eccentricities of Yellowstone National Park.