Hike above Grand Prismatic Spring



1.2 miles

Elevation Gain

150 ft

Route Type


Added by Chase Dekker

The hike to the hill behind Yellowstone National Park's world famous, Grand Prismatic Spring, is a rewarding way to spend an hour or two while visiting this iconic site.

Grand Prismatic Spring is Yellowstone's largest hot spring and is the third largest spring in the world. Stretching over 350 feet, it is a gargantuan pool of steaming hot and colorful water that cannot be missed while visiting the world's first national park. However, due to it's size, it is impossible to fully appreciate from the boardwalk along it's north side. However, there is a way around this and that way would be to go up.

While driving along the lower loop road, you will find a parking lot for "Fairy Falls". This parking lot if before you reach the Midway Geyser Basin (where Grand Prismatic is located) parking lot, and only about 5 miles past the Old Faithful (Upper Geyser Basin) area. Park here and you will cross a bridge over the Firehole river and begin your walk on a loose gravel pathway that is both flat and very wide. Immediately, you will begin to see the massive hot spring ahead as the colorful steam rises out of the pool. Keep walking for under 1/2 mile and you will eventually be right across from the spring with a hillside to your left. There are signs that advise to not climb the hill due to an incident a couple years back, but you will find that a good handful of people are ascending the hill anyways. There is no marked trail up the hill, but there is a well defined natural path made by the thousands that have ascended it before. Climb up the hill and after just a few feet of climbing you will begin to see your reward. While thousands trek across the boardwalk below, you will have a bird's eye view of one of nature's most spectacular creations. Climb wherever you wish, but do be advised it is best to come down or not climb at all if there are strong winds or an impending thunderstorm. This hillside was once burned by a fire roughly 25 years ago, so many of the trees are dead and fall every year due to storms. Be careful on your way down as well due to the loose gravel.

Be advised that it is possible you may encounter wildlife while hiking here or anywhere in the park, so absolutely make sure at least one member of your party has bear spray handy!

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Know for

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Hot Springs



Leave a Review

🥇Top Contributor

5 months ago

Must see to comprehend

A true highlight of Yellowstone, this hike takes you up and above to see the spring in its entirety.

🥈 Contributor

6 months ago

Forget Old Faithful! Do this hike!

One of the best experiences I had in Yellowstone (besides Lamar Valley) was finding the hike above Grand Prismatic. My son and I had already done the rather boring boardwalk around the spring, but we found the parking lot and perfect timing since areas of Yellowstone were crowded this summer. Not only did we do the hike to the overlook but we kept going to the waterfall. Definitely worth the extra effort to find a little more quiet time in Yellowstone. We stopped briefly to see what time Old Faithful would erupt but too many people! Our Yellowstone highlights were this hike, for sure, Lamar Valley, Norris Basin with the absolutely stunning Steamboat Hot Spring and Yellowstone Lake.

🥇Top Contributor

7 months ago

Absolutely Beautiful

The Grand Prismatic Hot Spring is one of the most beautiful thermal features I have ever seen. The blue waters are surrounded by brightly colored algae. Highly recommended.

🥇Top Contributor

8 months ago

Favorite Spot in Yellowstone!

This is the favorite and most memorable feature to me in the whole park! It honestly feels like being on another planet - the colors and he smoke just look so bizarre and incredible. Be careful on the walkways and keep ahold of your young children!


🥇Top Contributor

about 4 years ago

Nothing Like You've Ever Seen Before!

The Grand Prismatic Spring is an absolute phenomena. Seeing it in person is a million times better than the pictures. Well worth it!

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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