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Fountain Paint Pot - Yellowstone National Park

The Fountain Paint Pot area in Yellowstone has several springs, pools, geysers, a fumarole, and the Fountain Paint Pot.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 0.6 miles
Duration: Less than 1 hour
Family Friendly

Overview:  This trail is an easy 0.5 mile (0.8 km) loop boardwalk. You will see various hydrothermal features that are expressions of... 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. Bacteria Mats

Thermophiles (heat-loving microorganisms such as bacteria) usually form the ribbons of color like you see here. The green, brown, and orange colors are mostly cyanobacteria, which can live in waters as hot as 167°F (75°C). At this temperature they are usually yellow-green. As water cools, different varieties of cyanobacteria appear in... More

2. Silex Spring

At Silex Spring, consider how this hot water arrived at the surface. Deep beneath your feet, heat from partially molten rock beneath the surface is transmitted up through the earth's crust. Ground water circulating through these rocks becomes heated and follows cracks upward. Where the hot water can escape at the surface, a hot spring forms.

... More

At Fountain Paint Pot, what you see varies with the season. In early summer the mudpots are thin and watery from abundant rain and snow. By late summer they are quite thick. If the mud is thick today, watch out! Bursting bubbles may lob mud over the rail.

The mud is composed of clay minerals and fine particles of silica. In this area the rock is ... More

4. Fumaroles

The hiss and roar of a fumarole comes from gases—steam, carbon dioxide, and a little hydrogen sulfide—rushing from the earth through a vent. A fumarole's channel system reaches down into the hot rock masses, but it contains very little water. When water contacts the hot rock, it flashes into steam, which increases its volume 1500 times and drives ... More

5. Red Spouter

Red Spouter, which originated with the Hebgen Lake Earthquake, exhibits the behavior of all four thermal features. In the spring and early summer it is a muddy hot spring that may seem like a geyser as it splashes reddish water several feet high. As the water table lowers in late summer and fall, Red Spouter seems more like a big mudpot, and then ... More

6. Leather Pool

Leather Pool underwent dramatic changes after the Hebgen Lake Earthquake of 1959. Prior to the earthquake, it was a warm (143°F/62°C) pool that supported leather-like thermophilic brown bacteria. After the earthquake, water temperatures rose to boiling and killed the microorganisms. Since that time, Leather Pool has cooled and again... More

7. Volcanic Tableland

Distant hills and mountains comprise a volcanic tableland, described later.

Before you descend the stairs, walk out to the viewpoint on your left to view the geysers below. From this overlook you might see half a dozen geysers erupting at the same time.

Yellowstone is one of the few places in the world where geysers occur. The essentials for... More

8. Twig Geyser

Twig Geyser is the first regularly erupting geyser on this trail. Look for it at the base of the steps on the right. Twig erupts in a series of brief eruptions 2-10 feet (0.6-3 m) high.

9. Jet Geyser

On your left, Jet Geyser may erupt before an eruption from Fountain Geyser. During its active period, Jet erupts every few minutes up to 20 feet (6 m).

10. Fountain Geyser

Across from Jet, Fountain Geyser may appear empty before an eruption. When it does erupt, it is one of the most impressive geysers in the park. Eruptions reach 20-50 feet (6-15 m) and last 25 minutes or more.

Temperature 199.2°F Interval 1-12 hours and occasional dormancy. Duration 30-60 minutes. Height 50-75 feet. Lt. G.C. Doane referred to ... More

11. Morning Geyser

Behind Fountain, you can see the pool for Morning Geyser, which seldom erupts. Should you be so lucky, you will see one of the park's largest geysers. Morning's eruptions have been high (80-200 feet/25-61 m) and wide (100 feet/31 m).

12. Spasm Geyser

Before 2006, Spasm Geyser erupted for an hour or more until Fountain erupted but now its eruptions are shorter and more frequent. Spasm's eruptions may start with bursts up to 20 feet (6 m), then splashes about 3 feet (0.9 m) high.

13. Clepsydra Geyser

You will probably see Clepsydra Geyser erupting. This nearly constant performer splashes from several vents and its steam can be seen throughout the Lower Geyser Basin. Its name is Greek for "water clock," and was given because the geyser used to erupt every three minutes. Since the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake, Clepsydra erupts almost... More

14. Jelly Geyser

Temperature 196.7°F Interval 15-90 minutes. Duration seconds to 2 minutes. Height 1-10 feet. Professor Theodore Comstock of the Captain Jones Party first described this feature in 1873, but its name may be derived from geologist Walter Weed, who in 1888 described the pool as "clear-as-glass, green water." He believed algae helped in ... More

15. Lodgepole Pine

Dead lodgepole pine trees in the geyser basin are pioneers that did not survive. Establishing a toehold in thin new soil, the trees enriched the soil through natural recycling of minerals and organic material. In time the increasing humus would have nurtured a mature forest- if the trees hadn't drowned when nearby hot springs shifted. Silica also ... More

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16. Celestine Pool

Celestine Spring is the last hot spring on this trail. No documentation exists of how this spring was named—but its blue color does seem to match the deep blue of the sky.