Artists Paint Pots, Yellowstone National Park


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Artists Paint Pots
Steam rising above the pools and fumaroles at Artists Paint Pots
Three miles south of Norris Geyser Basin, the equally large but less active Gibbon Geyser Basin contains several dispersed collections of thermal features of which the most popular is Artists Paint Pots, a group of over 50 springs, geysers, vents and especially mud pots. These exhibit varying shades of blue, grey and brown, and have a range of different textures, with the behavior changing during the year depending on the amount of subterranean water. All can be seen via an easy 0.6 mile loop trail through partly wooded land - mostly level apart from a short climb and descent across the hillside overlooking the basin.

Location


Trail map for Yellowstone National Park.

Video


Features along the trail (mp4; 1:27 min; 13 mb).




The Trail


The Artists Paint Pots trailhead is reached by a little side road, ending at parking area that although quite large, still often fills up on busy summer days. The boardwalk path crosses bushy flats to the start of the loop around the hot pools, at the base of the north side of Paintpot Hill. Turning right, the first features are a number of gently simmering milky-blue pools, edged by reddish sulfur deposits. Next are various smaller vents, as the trail climbs a short distance up the hill though new growth lodgepole pine trees and turns east, past perhaps the most unusual pool in the area - a big creamy-brown mud pot with several churning vents behaving slightly differently owing to the varying consistency of the mud. This part of the path is high enough to overlook many square miles of the surroundings, from the hot pools below, across the Gibbon River Valley towards more distant active areas on the far side of Gibbon Meadows. The hillside has other small pools and steam vents, before the trail descends and meets two forceful pools (Blood Geyser and Flash Spring), both constantly bubbling, creating much steam, and occasionally staging a proper eruption. Blood Geyser gets its name from the bright red-orange sulfur deposits surrounding the vent. The end of the loop section of the trail is reached in another 250 feet, after a few other equally steamy pools. There are plenty more hot springs nearby, some visible through the trees, and a larger area lies out of sight on the far side of Paintpot Hill (Geyser Creek Group), though numerous warning notices caution against leaving the official path.

photograph
Trail past the paint pots
photograph
Grey-blue paint pot
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Wide view of the basin
Artists Paint Pots

Very popular path across a meadow and around a compact but especially colorful and varied collection of hot pools, mudpots and small geysers

Length: 0.6 miles

Elevation change: 80 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Type: One way

Usage: High

Season: Summer, fall

Trailhead: Parking area on the east side of the Grand Loop Road; 44.696,-110.741

Rating (1-5): ★★★★
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Nearby Trails

Harlequin Lake

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Monument Geyser Basin

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