Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser Basin

The Norris Geyser Basin is a place of superlatives.  Largest, hottest, oldest, most volatile…all are descriptors used in referring to the geothermal features found within this amazing valley.  Located in the northwestern portion of Yellowstone National Park, just off the Grand Loop Road, Norris Geyser Basin is roughly halfway between Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs, and/or about a dozen miles west of Canyon Village.  According to park literature this is the oldest geothermal area at Yellowstone, with data suggesting that the basin has been active for well over 100,000-years.  That doesn’t mean it’s gone unchanged in that time.  In fact, Norris is also the most volatile and changeable of Yellowstone’s geyser basins.  This likely has a lot to do with the fact that this is where the highest geothermal temp in the park was recorded as well…an astounding 459’F just a thousand feet or so below the surface! It doesn’t take much of a natural disturbance here to upset eruption timings, create massive new fumeroles, or fluctuate water levels.  Then there’s Steamboat Geyser, the largest geyser in the world. Famously unpredictable, this monster can erupt to heights of 380 feet!  This, for comparison purposes, is nearly three times the height Old Faithful averages.  Unfortunately there’s no way to know when Steamboat will put on a show.  Between 1990 and 2018 the geyser only erupted a dozen times.  In the last three years, however, it’s erupted over 100!  So, if you want to better your chances, you might want to get over to the Norris Geyser Basin sooner than later.

This album provides a quick-and-dirty tour of the two major ‘basins’ within Norris Geyser Basin…namely the Porcelain Basin and the Back Basin.  The Porcelain Basin, which the album tours first, is a huge open area populated mostly by steam vents, fumeroles, and hot springs.  The Back Basin is much more forested in nature, with the loop passing a higher concentration of geysers (including Steamboat Geyser).  This is a wonderful place to stop and spend some time.   After visiting the geyser basins to the south, we found Norris to be more of an “all-inclusive” basin in that it sports just about every type of geothermal feature found at Yellowstone…and all can be seen in an easy 2.5-mile pair of loops.  With that said I invite you now to take a stroll with us through the incredible sights (and sounds) of the Norris Geyser Basin at Yellowstone National Park…as always, ENJOY!!

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  44.726166, -110.701967

Location:  Norris Geyser Basin

Hike Length:  2.5 miles

Hike Duration:  2:00

Elevation:  7,560'


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