5 Reasons Why Old Faithful is Overrated

Have you been to Yellowstone National Park? If so, you probably witnessed the clockwork of Old Faithful.

It’s an iconic American wonder. But is it really worth all the hype?

You may have a visit to Yellowstone on your bucket list, and we certainly believe the park is worthy of such an honor. But today, we’re explaining why we think Old Faithful is an overrated destination within the park.

Let’s dive in!

What Is Old Faithful?

People from all over the world have traveled to watch Old Faithful erupt. This geyser is one of approximately 500 in Yellowstone National Park.

But what makes this geyser famous is its predictability. It’s highly unusual to be able to predict when a geyser will erupt.

But Old Faithful is aptly named because it’s, well, faithful.

The eruptions shoot anywhere from 100 to 185 feet into the air, far from the tallest geyser in Yellowstone but still photo-worthy.

While the time between eruptions has lengthened by about 30 minutes over the last 30 years, you can bet your money that you’ll witness Old Faithful erupt every 65-90 minutes.

Old Faithful erupting on a bright blue day in Yellowstone National Park.

Where Is Old Faithful?

On March 1, 1872, Yellowstone became the first national park in the world.

This preservation ensures that 2.2 million acres of abundant wildlife, geothermal areas that include half the world’s active geysers, and other geologic wonders are protected for future generations.

Once inside the park, you’ll travel to the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center located in the Upper Geyser Basin.

It’s west of West Thumb and northwest of the Grant Visitor Center. From the West Yellowstone Visitor Center, you’ll travel east and then south, following the main road to the education center.

Yellowstone is a vast national park, and Old Faithful is in the southern half.

The Yellowstone National Park sign in front of the park.

5 Reasons Why Old Faithful Is Overrated

Although the reliability of this geyser has earned its name, it’s not one of the most spectacular geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park.

We think there are better options and more secluded places where you don’t have to fight the crowds. Let’s share five reasons we think Old Faithful is overrated.

1. It’s Always Crowded

In 2021, 4.86 million people visited Yellowstone. In 2022, 3.29 million people traveled through its borders. That’s a lot of people!

However, because Yellowstone is 2.2 million acres, exploring much of the park can take days. Generally, people flock to the most popular areas because they only have a short amount of time.

The Old Faithful viewing area is always crowded. While the predictability makes it easy to watch the geyser erupt, Old Faithful is one you’ll want to skip if you don’t like crowds.

Old Faithful erupting on a cloudy day with crowds all around it.

2. It’s Too Predictable

Many adventurers like the spontaneity of travel and exploration. We love it when we stumble upon a hidden gem.

We don’t love to plan our trips down to the hours because we want to have time for unpredictable memory-making moments.

That mindset doesn’t jive well with the routine eruptions of Old Faithful. To us, it’s boring.

Instead of being surprised, you stand there and wait, knowing the reliable geyser will sprew again.

Don’t be this guy when you visit the park: Bonehead Tourist Illegally Harasses Elk in Yellowstone.

3. There Are Bigger And Better Geysers

So where do we suggest you go instead? Check out Steamboat Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin to view the tallest active geyser in the world.

While not as predictable as Old Faithful, its eruptions launch over 300 feet into the air. It’s truly spectacular!

A neighbor to Old Faithful is Grand Geyser. It’s the tallest predictable geyser in the world, sending water 200 feet into the air about every six or seven hours.

If you’re looking for a less crowded location to witness a predictable geyser, hike the three-mile roundtrip to Lone Star Geyser. It’s a much smaller geyser, but you’ll also have the place to yourself.

Lastly, Fountain Geyser is one of our favorites because the boardwalk is a stunning stroll. The geyser itself gushes water and steam, making for quite a show.

Fountain Geyser erupting on a bright blue day.
Fountain Geyser

4. The Eruption Isn’t That Impressive

Although you can see Old Faithful erupt often during a visit to Yellowstone, you might be disappointed in the event.

It’s just not that impressive. Some travelers just want to check it off their list before moving on to more inspiring locations within the park.

It’s likely not the event you’ll remember when you go back home to tell your family and friends about your trip to Yellowstone National Park.

5. The Surrounding Landscape Is Dull

The part of Yellowstone National Park where Old Faithful is located isn’t the most awe-inspiring. There are better places for breathtaking natural wonders. Riverside Geyser produces a rainbow as the water falls into the Firehole River.

The jaw-dropping Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is one of the most picturesque areas of the park, with its alpine trees, hot springs, steam vents, and rushing river.

While crowded, The Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the most beautiful locations inside the park. The rainbow pool is a photographer’s dream.

Grand Prismatic Spring at sunset.
Grand Prismatic Spring

Other Must-See Attractions In Yellowstone

During your visit to Yellowstone, some popular destinations shouldn’t be missed: the Grand Prismatic Spring, Steamboat Geyser, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Other must-see locations include Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Lake, and the West Thumb Geyser Basin. 

While you’ll likely see wildlife anywhere in the park, we suggest heading to Lamar Valley, where you will most likely have a chance to view wild wolves roaming the park.

You’ll also have a higher chance of viewing bison, black bears, bighorn sheep, elk, grizzly bears, mule deer, and pronghorn here.

The park is massive, so we suggest giving yourself at least four days to explore as much as possible. If you can stay a week, that would give you time to truly enjoy the magnificence of this place.

Is Old Faithful Still Worth Visiting?

So the question many people ask us is, is Old Faithful worth visiting? For someone who has seen it, it’s not worth standing around to watch it again.

But if you’ve never witnessed the spewing geyser perform its clockwork magic, we wouldn’t deter you from doing it once.

It is a must-see item for many people on their trip to Yellowstone. But we suggest carving much more time to explore the other park areas.

Have you witnessed the reliability of Old Faithful? What was your takeaway?

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