Grand Loop Road: West Thumb to Old Faithful

There’s a 17 mile stretch of Grand Loop Road between the junction at West Thumb and the Old Faithful area in UNESCO World Heritage listed Yellowstone National Park. The road crosses the Continental Divide twice and has a few nice places to stop.

 

Duck Lake

Heading towards Old Faithful, our first stop was at a pullout overlooking Duck Lake. The 37 acre lake sits inside an ancient volcano basin. An easy half-mile trail from West Thumb Geyser Basin leads to a viewpoint and the shore of the lake. From the pullout, it’s possible to see Yellowstone Lake as well.

Duck Lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Duck Lake

 

Shoshone Lake

Next, we stopped at a pullout with a not-so-great view of Shoshone Lake. This backcountry lake occupies 8,050 acres and is the largest lake in the lower 48 states that can’t be reached by road. There’s an 8.5 mile trail to the lake and the Shoshone Geyser Basin, the largest backcountry geyser basin in the park. I’d like to do that trail on a future visit.

Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Shoshone Lake

 

Isa Lake

Right at the Continental Divide at Craig Pass is tiny Isa Lake. This small lake is covered in lily pads and is thought to be the only natural lake in the entire world that drains into two oceans. Isa Lake was discovered in 1891 by Hiram M. Chittenden while exploring the best route for a new road between West Thumb and Old Faithful.

Isa Lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Isa Lake

 

Kepler Cascades

Our fourth and final stop on this stretch of Grand Loop Road was at Kepler Cascades. This waterfall on the Firehole River has a series of drops over 150ft, with the largest drop being 50ft. The Shoshone Lake and Lone Star Geyser trails begin at the parking lot for Kepler Cascades.

Kepler Cascades in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Kepler Cascades

Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Firehole River

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