Old Faith­ful isn’t the only geyser worth gush­ing over

Woonsocket Call - - TRAVEL - By DINA MISHEV

Yel­low­stone Na­tional Park has more than 10,000 ther­mal fea­tures – of which 500 are gey­sers – but it seems its 4.1 mil­lion an­nual vis­i­tors fix­ate on only one: Dur­ing peak sum­mer months, an es­ti­mated 2,000 peo­ple stuff into the sta­dium seat­ing at Old Faith­ful as the park’s most pre­dictable geyser spouts boil­ing water up to 17 sto­ries high. Not 2,000 peo­ple per day, but 2,000 peo­ple per erup­tion. The geyser goes off ev­ery 60 to 110 min­utes.

Com­ing to Yel­low­stone in Wy­oming and not see­ing its star at­trac­tion, how­ever, is like trav­el­ing to Ni­a­gara and skip­ping the falls: “Even though it’s crowded, it’s still well worth the visit,” says Tay­lor Phillips, founder of Jack­son Hole Eco Tour Ad­ven­tures. So strate­gize. Phillips takes clients to the end of Old Faith­ful Ob­ser­va­tion Trail, where crowds are smaller and there’s a “from above” view. The sec­ond-floor rooftop deck of his­toric Old Faith­ful Inn has the same ben­e­fits and a nearby cof­fee bar. Or, re­serve Room 150 in the Inn’s Old House and watch Old Faith­ful erupt through your win­dow. The best strat­egy of all? Visit dur­ing off-peak times – be­fore 9 a.m. or af­ter 7 p.m. in sum­mer, or any day and time in win­ter.

With Old Faith­ful du­ti­fully checked off, skip the sin­gle-file trudg­ing around Up­per Geyser Basin. In­stead, drive about one hour (30 miles) north to Nor­ris Geyser Basin. Here, you can see the same types of ther­mal fea­tures – some would say bet­ter – as around Old Faith­ful, en­joy some per­sonal space and maybe catch an erup­tion of the un­usu­ally ex­plo­sive Steam­boat Geyser, the tallest ac­tive geyser in the world.

Nor­ris is the hottest, most acidic, most change­able and most var­ied ther­mal area in Yel­low­stone but gets about half the vis­i­tors Old Faith­ful draws. Start at the 88-year-old Nor­ris Geyser Mu­seum, which was con­structed in a style known as Na­tional Park Ser­vice Rus­tic and is on the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places. The 2¼ miles of raised board­walks and trails lead­ing from the mu­seum pass fu­maroles; gey­sers; hot springs; col­or­ful pools; boil­ing mud; Ech­i­nus Geyser, the largest known acid-water gusher; and Green Dragon Spring, a sul­fur-lined cave filled with emer­ald-green boil­ing water that gen­er­ates so much steam it looks as if the cave is ex­hal­ing smoke.

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