Fountain Paint Pots Trail takes you around some of the hydrothermal features of the Fountain Group in Yellowstone National Park. Located in the Lower Geyser Basin, this group in the UNESCO World Heritage listed park contains geysers hot springs along with mudpots and fumaroles, features with very little water. The area is named for the rich red, yellow, and brown muds that appear during different stages of iron oxidation.
The first feature of the mostly accessible boardwalk trail is Celestine Pool. It’s almost always near boiling point. Unfortunately, it’s one of the pools that has claimed a human life. In 1981, a 24 year old California man tried to save his friend’s dog by diving into the pool. He died the next day. The dog’s body was never recovered.
Further up on the right side of the boardwalk is Silex Spring. It’s a beautiful blue pool that has very rare eruptions.
Fountain Paint Pot
Fountain Paint Pot is the highlight of the group. The pink and gray bubbling mud is fun to watch. In the beginning of the summer when there is more water, the mud is thinner and boils. By the end of summer, the mud is thicker and has a more bubbly effect, creating odd shapes as well.
Red Spouter and Leather Pool
Next to Fountain Paint Pot is Red Spouter. This fumarole didn’t exist until it appeared after a 1959 earthquake. In spring, it acts like a hot spring with muddy water. By summer, it spits out thick mud. By autumn, when it’s dry, Red Spouter is its true fumarole self, emitting a loud blowing noise. Microorganisms called thermophiles live inside of it causing a rotten egg smell. On the other side of the boardwalk is Leather Pool.
Geysers along the Boardwalk
The boardwalk continues to a bunch of geysers. Two of the major geysers are Fountain Geyser and Morning Geyser, but neither were active and were kind of tough to spot. Fountain Geyser erupts every four to 15 hours and shoots water up to 75 feet into the air for up to 30 minutes. It’s occasionally dormant, including a spell from 1929 until after World War II. Morning Geyser is one of the largest geysers in the world. Unfortunately, eruptions are rare. When it is active, it can erupt every four hours and shoot water 200 feet high and 100 feet wide.
The other important geyser in the bunch is Clepsydra Geyser. Since the 1959 earthquake, it’s been in an almost constant state of eruption, often reaching heights of 30 feet. Before the earthqauke, it erupted every three minutes. It discharges about 675 gallons per minute.
Inside the boardwalk area is Jet Geyser. It erupts frequently, every seven to 30 minutes. It can shoot water about 20 feet high.