A trip to Yellowstone is not complete without a visit to Old Faithful. While most geysers go off spontaneously, Old Faithful is so well known because it goes off approximately every 90 minutes, like clockwork. It’s so regular, Park rangers post timings, boardwalk and seating is placed all around it, and one of the biggest visitor centers and parking lots have been built around it. Not to mention the Old Faithful Inn, a grocery store, a gas station, etc. As I said, this is a popular place.
We arrived around 4:30pm, and after unloading the kids (who had been napping), finding a restroom, and walking over, it was around 4:50pm. I sat the kids down to have a snack on the benches while my husband went to get the next timing: 5:30pm (+ or – 10 minutes). We walked around the boardwalk a bit before we came back at 5:20pm. My kids took seats on the ground, while my husband wiggled his way into a good angle, camera ready.
My 4 year old son and 2 year old daughter are not really known for their patience or enjoyment of delayed gratification. And of course it would be our luck that Old Faithful decided to be late today. The kids very quickly got antsy, waiting, so they kept getting up and running around. Which made me anxious because we were in a crowded area and they kept disappearing in the crowd and running through people like it was a game. When 5:40pm came and there was no eruption I was ready to throw in the towel.
After the 102nd or so time I told the kids to stay seated (approximately 5:42pm), it finally happened. First a huge rush of stem, then the water shooting up in the air. My son jumped up, shouting in astonishment. I turned to my husband to smile, then watched him take off running with the camera. Assuming he was running to get a shot at a better angle I looked back at Old Faithful to realize the water and steam looked like it was coming at us. Then, I saw our entire section get up and run. Suddenly, me, the kids and the stroller realized why as water rained down on us.
My son and daughter immediately started shouting, I grabbed each by the hand, then pushed the stroller and took off toward the visitor center with the crowd. Further up the boardwalk, I realized we were out of the heaviest bit, and we waited there, still getting misted on, waiting for my husband to return. The kids had fun shrieking, and my son kept asking why it rained on us. Finally my husband came back, with the shot, the camera safe, and with an amused expression as he saw us drenched.
After that we heard the thunder clouds coming in, so we didn’t see more of the visitors center, we just headed to the car and started the drive to our hotel in West Yellowstone.
But my son certainly had his lessons in geysers ingrained in him. As soon as he got back to school, he told everyone he could in a very animated way: “Geysers shoot up in the air, then they rain all over you!”
Old Faithful Visitor Center: Open daily from 8 am – 8 pm in the summer, 8 am – 4 pm in the winter. The geyser erupts approximately every 90 minutes.
All photos taken by Atma Photography