Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Springs

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, WY, USA

happyly approved

Spend the day exploring Yellowstone's closest phenomenons to Jackson Hole!

Natural Phenomena Fun for the Fam!

A day of hooky, inspired by the crisp autumn air and clear blue skies, led our family outdoors and to Yellowstone late this Fall. With little plan before our departure, but seeking a fun activity for the day, we figured we would use spontaneity as our ally. Kids old and young will love these attractions.

We left at 11 am with Persephone sandwiches, and Healthy Bean juices in tow and soaked in the beautiful drive as we traversed the base of the Tetons. We soon found ourselves pulled over at Jackson Lake for a photo shoot. With a sky absent of clouds, the Tetons starkly reflected themselves off of the lake, further validating our choice to make this day trip. Another hour in and we finally reached Old Faithful and stretched our legs out as we watched the steam float and hiss above the earth.  We left before the eruption due to just having missed the last blow, which occurs every 35-120 minutes. However, it still felt the visit well-worth our time due to the surreal nature of the landscape.

On our way to the Grand Prismatic Spring, we encountered a Bison lapping water from a nearby stream. Seeing this beautiful animal was one of the highlights of our family's summer. Always remember to keep a healthy distance from these inhabitants though! The animals are more afraid of you then you are of them and encounters that become dangerous are often the result of a human overstepping their boundaries.  

On our family's day trip, the ultra-cool Grand Prismatic Spring is only a few miles north of Old Faithful so it came up pretty quickly. There are two ways for your family to go about it. You can either pull in at the first entrance at the Fairy Falls TH, park and hike out and back to the overlook.  Otherwise, drive a little further and pull into a roadside viewing area. We opted for the hike as our legs were in dire need of some movement after the long drive.  

The hike gradually rose 105 feet over a distance of 0.6 miles. Our three-year-old kid happily trotted alongside us and sometimes even raced ahead. We did have to clearly specify to her that the tiny pools of water along the trail were dangerously hot and not to be touched.

It took us no more than 20 minutes to reach the viewpoint and, boy was it worth it. The Grand Prismatic Spring and Midway Geyser Basin exploded with color and steam; a phenomenon I’ve never experienced before. The few visitors we saw took turns taking photos of each other overlooking the views. We left feeling satisfied and overwhelmed by the absolute unfathomable nature of our country's very first National Park and arrived back to Jackson around 5 pm.  

It was a long day in the car for sure: two hours to Old Faithful and another 10 minutes past that to the Grand Prismatic Spring. The drive is beautiful both ways, but it’s definitely helpful for everyone in the car if you plan some fun car games for the kiddos. There are plenty of eye spy opportunities and also a bunch of self-guided audio tour apps worth looking into as well.

Emily Coleman
Jackson Hole, WY
Emily Coleman is a Jersey girl born and raised who caught the outdoor bug upon moving to Vermont to pursue a degree in Adventure Education and Environmental Studies from Green Mountain College. She spent most of her years before college deeply entrenched in the world of competitive cheerleading before discovering a passion for outdoor sports including mountain biking, white water kayaking, bikepacking, backpacking, slacklining, rock climbing, and skiing. Having been surrounded by children her entire life in her mother's daycare, she always had a strong affinity for kids. She moved to the mountains of Jackson Hole after graduating to coach for the local Kayak Club during the summers and nanny in the winters. Becoming a part of the Happy Active Family team felt like the perfect collision of her passion for building strong community bonds and encouraging an outdoor lifestyle.
More activities by Emily
Play to learn at the creative and interactive Jackson Hole Children’s Museum
An open gymnastics gym for children.
A community-built natural space with lakes, grassy knolls, walking/biking paths, and – in the winter – snow activities too.

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