Grand Prismatic: How to Get the Best View

If you want to see one of the most iconic places in Yellowstone, head over to the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. Only second in fame to Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic is a MUST SEE if you are heading to Yellowstone for any amount of time.

How to Get the Best View of Grand Prismatic

There are two options for viewing Grand Prismatic. The first is the boardwalks where the main parking are is for the spring. Be sure to get here EARLY, like, before 9 am, if you don’t want to encounter a madhouse. The boardwalks allow you to see some of the other features in this basin. But the boardwalks doesn’t give you that amazing view that you see in all the pictures. If you want to see the most amazing view, you will need to head over to the Grand Prismatic Overlook. This overlook isn’t on the map. The only way we found out about it was by seeing people up on the overlook when we were down on the boardwalks. We knew we needed to get up there, so we went exploring.

If you drive down the road a little bit, you will come upon an unmarked parking area with a ton of parking. Park and get out and walk across the walking bridge to go up the hill, walking TOWARDS the Grand Prismatic. You will come to a fork in the road where you can continue straight or go up a hill. You want go left up the hill. At the top of this hill there will be an overlook where you can get THE BEST photos of the spring. The hike to this overlook is about two miles round trip. It will take about twenty to thirty minutes to walk up the hill. You will need good shoes and the ability to walk up hills. The overlook is not wheelchair accessible so keep that in mind as well.

When Should You Visit Grand Prismatic?

The best time of year to visit the hot spring depends on what your goals are. Do you want good sunny weather? Are you trying to avoid crowds? Do you want a unique view of the spring? All of these preferences and more are important considerations when planning your Yellowstone trip. High season or the busy season is May to mid-September with June, July, and August being the busiest times in the park. In the off season or October to April, there are other considerations to take into account such as snow, road closures, and if the park is open. If you are like most people, you will be heading to Yellowstone in high season and therefore should plan your Grand Prismatic trip accordingly.

Why is the Grand Prismatic Spring So Colorful?

The bright colors of the Grand Prismatic are caused by bacteria that love heat, called thermophiles. The different colors are caused by different types of thermophiles that live in the varying temperatures of water. In the center of the hot spring, the water temperatures are very high. As you move farther out from the center, the water cools. This allows bacteria to colonize. The different colors are indicative of the different types of bacteria. If you are interested in learning more about this unique and beautiful process, check out this article from the Smithsonian:

More Yellowstone Resources

If you would like more information about Yellowstone, be sure to check out these articles:

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