Hike above Grand Prismatic Spring



1.2 miles

Elevation Gain

150 ft

Route Type


Added by Chase Dekker

The hike around 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 its size, it is impossible to fully appreciate from the boardwalk along its north side. However, there is a way to get a much better view of this Yellowstone gem. 

While driving along the lower loop road, you will find a parking lot for "Fairy Falls". This parking lot is 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. 

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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Known for

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Hot Springs



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Must see to comprehend

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

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.

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.

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!

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!

Check Status Before You Go

Make sure you check the status of the trail before you go. It can often be closed due to bear activity.

Majestic View!

Be sure you pack a bottle of insect repellent. I have been there in summer without one and I fed armies of mosquitoes already :P

Rocky trail, great reward

The "trail" up the hill is rocky and unstable. But if you take your time and are careful about where you step, you'll be rewarded with incredible views of Grand Prismatic Spring. Definitely worth seeing it from both viewpoints!


Currently closed due to bear activity in the area, but I highly recommend it. Best way to fully appreciate the pool.

The Best View of the Grand Prismatic

After seeing the Grand Prismatic from ground level, we weren't satisfied because we had seen pictures from a higher vantage point. This is the vantage point that most pictures are taken at. A little tricky to find at first, but the description is super solid. Even though the trail isn't maintained, tons of people have worn it down enough to see where to go.

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Leave No Trace

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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