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Fairy Falls - Yellowstone National Park

This easy hike to the 197-foot-tall Fairy Falls passes Grand Prismatic Spring, wildflowers, lodgepole pine, and more.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2.5 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview:  The hike to Fairy Falls is very easy despite its length. The trail passes Grand Prismatic Spring, and a short detour scramble up a... more »

Tips:  Plan on hiking for about 2-3 hours round trip if you turn around at the falls. Alternatively, you can continue on past Fairy Falls to ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Firehole River Bridge

The information stand on the north side of the Firehole River Bridge shows that the Fairy Falls trailhead is in 1.0 mi.

2. Good Place to Take Pictures From

The foot trails going up the hill on the left of the Fountain Freight Road Trail do not look official. However, a Yellowstone Park Ranger told his group that he highly recommended the short scramble to the top of the hill to get a good view of Grand Prismatic Spring.

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3. Grand Prismatic Spring

Notice the brilliant colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring ahead on the right. Early visitors to the park were told it was “so dazzling that the eye cannot endure it.” Most of the colors you see are caused by algae, which thrives in the hot spring water at temperatures up to 167° F. At that temperature, the algae is normally a light yellow... More

4. Excelsior Geyser Crater

5. Turquoise Pool

6. Opal Pool

7. Fairy Falls Trailhead

At the 1-mile mark, the trail turns left, leaves the freight road, and enters the forest.

8. As You Hike

Virtually all of this trail has been affected by the fires of 1988. As devastated as this forest may appear, it is not dead. In fact, by some measures it is more alive than before. Yellowstone was covered by aging lodgepole pine trees. This “lodgepole desert,” as some called it, supported relatively few species of plants and animals.

The fires... More

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9. Fairy Falls

At the 2.5-mile mark, you will reach Fairy Falls. Fairy Creek shoots out over the edge of the Madison Plateau and plunges 197 feet. Members of the 1871 Hayden Survey named it for the “graceful beauty with which the little stream dropped down a clear descent.”

At this point, you can either turn around and return to your car the way you came, or... More

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10. Imperial Geyser

Temperature 200°F Interval seconds to 2 hours and occasional dormancy. Duration seconds to 3 minutes. Height 6-80 feet. The geyser became active in 1927. In 1929 a contest among visiting newspaper men named this popular new thermal feature. The eruptions during that year were so violent-reaching 80 to 150 feet high- that its plumbing system... More

11. Spray Geyser

Temperature 199°F Interval 1-5 minutes. Duration 3-10 minutes. Height 10-25 feet. An old and popular small geyser, Spray has had regular eruptions since its early discovery. It has the same energy source as Imperial Geyser at the base of South Twin Butte. It is one of the few geysers that has a longer eruption time (duration) than the interval... More