Yellowstone’s Lower Geyser Basin is an highly active geothermal area that is located halfway between the West Entrance and Old Faithful. There are several highlights in this area you wouldn’t want to miss – our recommendation is to stop by Ojo Cliente Spring, Fountain Paint Pot and Firehole Lake Drive.
Ojo Caliente is spanish and translates to ‘hot eye’, this hot spring is exceptionally hot. It is idyllically located along the Firehole River. Unlike many of the other thermal features you will have to walk a kilometer or so to reach the hot spring, and just because of this you will probably have it all to yourself, so if you are tired of the crowds this is where you want to head.
For those familiar with the story of Nez Perce it is interesting to know they entered Yellowstone from the West Entrance and Nez Perce Creek named after the events in 1877 is located in this area.
Fountain Paint Pot
A bit further south on the Grand Loop Road you’ll find the Fountain Paint Pot area.
Thermophilic bacteria is one of the fascinating forms of life on this planet. They love heat – and they thrive in the geothermal features of Yellowstone. The first thermophile bacteria was discovered in the Lower Geyser Basin. It is pretty amazing that the bacteria found in Yellowstone has contributed to DNA fingerprinting and is used to provide insight into the possibility of life on other planets.
Firehole Lake Drive
Across the road from the Fountain Paint Pot area is the Firehole Lake Drive. This is an awesome one-way drive through style loop where you’ll drive from one thermal feature to the next. You don’t even have to get out of the car to see the geysers and hot springs lined up for you!
There are two larger geysers on this loop that have somewhat regular eruptions. The White Dome Geyser is a cone type geyser that will erupt every 10 min – 3 hours. The other one is The Great Fountain Geyser that erupts every 8 – 12 hours. The latter one if by far the most impressive one, but unless you have a lot of time you are more likely to see the White Dome Geyser erupt.
White Dome Geyser
If you are not able to catch Great Fountain Geyser erupting second best is to catch the sunset here as the light is reflected beautifully in its pools.
Great Fountain Geyser