Old Faithful is a geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. It is perhaps one of the more well known geysers both due to its name and the hype it receives. However, Old Faithful is not the most regular geyser the park has, nor is it the largest. In the world there are about 1000 geysers and half of them are found in Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful was named by Washburn-Langford-Doane during an exploration of Wyoming in 1870. It was also the first geyser to receive a name.
Old Faithful can be found by taking the main road. It is situated between Madison and Old Thumb, which is also near the Old Faithful Inn and Old Faithful visitor center. Old Faithful creates a spray of 120 feet most of the time. It will erupt about every 80 to 90 minutes. The time can vary somewhat during the year. The park rangers will post the estimated eruption times for Old Faithful at the visitor center. It is best to check with them first before walking out to the geyser. While there are other geysers to see along the path they are not as predictable and may not be erupting during your visit.
There is a pave walkway that begins from the parking lot of Old Faithful. This walkway will eventually turn to wood as it goes over marsh type land towards Old Faithful Geyser. The walkway and benches will keep visitors 300 feet from the actual spray when it erupts.
It has been suggested by scientists that all geysers including Old Faithful will erupt depending on the annual rainfall the park sees. It is known that Old Faithful has been reliable about eruptions for 135 years, and probably before it was discovered. However, over this period of time the geyser has erupted between 50 and 90 minutes. The most current average at Yellowstone for Old Faithful Geyser is 91 minutes. The scientific research has discovered that all geysers including Old Faithful will vary their eruptions from longer periods to shorter ones depending on the dry and wet periods. It suggests that when the geyser has more water running through the underground plumbing it will erupt more frequently.
When Old Faithful erupts it lasts for 1.5 to 5 minutes. This will again depend on the amount of water that is underground and the pressure that builds. The geyser tends to expel 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of water. This water is at boiling temperatures. While the typical eruption height is 120 feet this can also vary. It has been at heights of 106 to 184 feet over the last 135 years.
Steamboat Geyser in Norris Geyser Basin is actually the largest active geyser in the world. It is worth a stop for vacationers, and the basin can be found after Madison in the northwest area of the park. Once visitors have taken the pathway around Old Faithful a drive to Lower, Midway, and Upper Geyser basins is worthwhile, as this is an area filled with geysers.
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