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Artist's Paint Pots - Yellowstone National Park

From this boardwalk trail, you can see colorful hot springs, two large mudpots, a fumarole, and a couple of geysers.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 1.1 miles
Duration: Less than 1 hour
Family Friendly

Overview:  The Artist's Paint Pots trail is an easy hike to several geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park. From the boardwalk, you can... more »

Tips:  Hydrothermal features are fragile rarities of nature. Yellowstone preserves the largest collection of hydrothermal features on the... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead

From the parking area, take the boardwalk path to the south as it crosses through a section of forest burned in 1988.

2. Start of Loop

After about 0.3 miles, you will reach the start of the loop around the hot pools. Ahead of you (to the south) is Paintpot Hill. Turn right. The Artist's Paint Pots trail is not as developed as many of the more-traveled trails in Yellowstone, and many of the geothermal features do not have names.

3. Feature GAPNN021

Montana State University maintains a database of geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park. This pool is Feature GAPNN021. The database can be found at http://www.rcn.montana.edu/resources/features/features.aspx?nav=11®ion=9.

4. Milky Blue Pools

As you continue around the boardwalk, you will see several milky-blue pools. The milky blue color comes from silica that is suspensded in the water.

5. Small Vents

Next are various smaller vents as the trail climbs a short distance up the hill though new growth lodgepole pine trees. Much of this area was burned in the 1988 fire.

6. Artist's Paint Pots

At the top of the hill on the right are perhaps the most unusual features in the area - Artist's Paint Pots. The mud is composed of clay minerals and fine particles of silica. In this area the rock is rhyolite, which is composed primarily of quartz and feldspar. Acids in the steam and water break down the feldspar into a clay mineral called... More

7. Feature GAPNN047

This fumarole hill next to the boardwalk has runoff areas of bright red growth within.

8. Scenic Overlook

This part of the path is high enough to overlook many square miles of the surrounding area, from the hot pools below, across the Gibbon River Valley toward more distant active areas on the far side of Gibbon Meadows.

The hillside has several small pools and steam vents.

9. Blood Geyser

Visible from the eastern portion of the trail is Blood Geyser. Blood Geysers plays from a shallow basin at the east end of the group. Possibly the spring named "Red Geyser" in 1878, it was described as a perpetual spouter in 1882, and, indeed, it only briefly and infrequently pauses its play. Most quiet intervals last less than 1 minute, and they ... More

10. Flash Spring

The imporant springs of clear water, including two geysers, are located at the base of the Paintpot Hill. Several other springs in the area appear to be geysers but actually are not. Their spouting is perpetual and largely a result of the evolution of carbon dioxide in water cooler than boiling. The best-known of these is Flash Spring, immediately... More