Fountain Paint Pot Trail in Yellowstone National Park is an amazing half-mile boardwalk loop that leads visitors past all four types of hydrothermal features! This is a great opportunity to see geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles.
Fountain Paint Pot Trail - Yellowstone National Park
Location - Lower Geyser Basin between Madison and Old Faithful on the loop road.
Highlights - Contains all four types of hydrothermal features - Geysers, Hot Springs, Mudpots, and Fumaroles.
Trail Distance - .5 mile boardwalk loop
The Fountain Paint Pot Area is a must-see while visiting Yellowstone! This boardwalk trail is a great opportunity to learn more about the different type of thermal features you can find within the park.
There is an easily accessible parking lot near the boardwalk.
As you first head down the boardwalk, you will see thermophiles which are heat-loving microorganisms including bacteria. The green, orange, and brown colors you see in the bacterial mats are mostly Cyanobacteria.
Cyanobacteria can live in hot water that is up to 167 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of the water dictates the color of the Cyanobacteria. Cooler waters form different shades of orange, brown, or rust.
Hot temperatures closer to 176 degrees are usually yellow-green.
Colors along the bacterial mats can change by season and with the sunlight.
What does Silex mean - Silex is Latin for Silica.
When you look at the hot water in Silex Spring it is worth remembering that deep beneath your feet the heat from molten rock deep beneath the surface is transmitted up through the earth's crust.
The groundwater that circulates through rocks becomes heated as it follows cracks upwards until it escapes at the surface creating a hot spring.
Fountain Paint Pot
One thing to know is Fountain Paint Pot changes by the season. What you may see in the Fall is different from what it looks like in early summer.
During spring and early summer, the mud pots can be thin and watery from winter rain and snow.
Later in the summer and in the fall, the mud pots are thicker.
The hissing and roaring sounds you hear are caused by gases including steam, carbon dioxide, and a little hydrogen sulfide. These gases rush from the earth through a vent.
The 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake caused dramatic changes to Leather Pool. The pool waters rose to boiling after the earthquake which killed microorganisms. Today the pool has cooled again and can support microorganisms.
One cool thing about the Red Spouter is it exhibits the behaviors of all four thermal features. The Red Sprouter changes by season so you will find it looks very different depending on the time of year you are visiting.
Spring and early summer you can expect the Red Sprouter to be muddy hot spring that can seem similar to a geyser as it splashes reddish water up to several feet high.
Later in the year closer to late summer and fall as the water table lowers Red Sprouter is more of a big mudpot and then transforms into a hissing fumarole.
As you continue along the Fountain Paint Pot Boardwalk Trail you will enter into the geyser area.
There is an overlook that gives you the chance to see a half dozen geysers erupting at the same time!
Twig Geyser is the first geyser you will pass on the boardwalk. It is located at the base of the steps on the boardwalk.
Twig Geyser erupts 2 to 10 feet high in a series of eruptions.
When Jet Geyser is active it can erupt every few minutes up to 20 feet high.
Fountain Geyser is across from Jet Geyser and can look empty before it erupts.
Eruptions can last 25 minutes or more and be 20 to 50 feet high!!!
Morning Geyser is located behind Fountain Geyser. This geyser seldom erupts but when it does you are in for a show! Morning Geyser is one of Yellowstone's largest geysers with eruptions reaching 80 to 200 feet high!
Spasm Geyser erupts pretty frequently with an initial eruption of up to 20 feet and then splashes that are about 3 feet high.
What does Clepsydra Mean - Clepsydra is Greek for a water clock.
Clepsydra Geyser is pretty easy to see erupt. This geyser splashes from several vents. You can see the steam from Clepsydra Geyser throughout the Lower Geyser Basin.
The last hot springs you will see along the boardwalk trail is Celestine Spring. This pool has a gorgeous blue color.
Bobby Socks Trees
As you travel through the different thermal areas within Yellowstone National Park you will notice trees that look like they are wearing white socks.
This white sock look is caused when Lodgepole Pine Trees drown in super-heated waters. The trees are penetrated by silica which hardens their bases.
Fountain Paint Pot Trail Map
Where is Fountain Paint Pot?
Nearby Yellowstone Attractions
Old Faithful - Old Faithful is just down the road from Firehole Lake Drive
Biscuit Basin - Check out Black Opal Pool and the Jewel Geyser in Biscuit Basin.
Firehole Lake Drive - This 2-mile scenic drive includes the Great Fountain Geyer, White Dome Geyser, and Firehole Lake
Firehole Canyon Drive - Check out Firehole Falls and Firehole River Swimming Area on this great scenic drive.
Norris Geyser Basin - Norris Geyser Basin features some of the hottest thermal areas in the entire park.
Black Sand Basin - This short boardwalk trail offers great thermal features.
Have you seen all of the epic Yellowstone Waterfalls you can easily see in the park.
Check out all of the Yellowstone Campgrounds to help plan your time in the park.
Closest Yellowstone Lodging
Additional Yellowstone Resources
Yellowstone Lodging Guide -Check out all of the lodges you can stay in while visiting Yellowstone NP.
Yellowstone Camping Guide - Check out all of the campgrounds available within the park.
Things to do Yellowstone - Check out all of the top things to do in the park.
Yellowstone Facts - Learn more about the unique features in Yellowstone.
Free National Park Days - Check out all of the days the National Park Service waives park entrance fees.
National Parks in Wyoming - Check out all of the parks you can visit while in Wyoming.
Grand Teton National Park - Everything you need to know to plan a great visit.