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Grand Prismatic Spring picture in Yellowstone
Rainbow Colors picture in Yellowstone
Colors Galore picture in Yellowstone
Grand Prismatic Spring picture in Yellowstone
Rainbow Colors picture in Yellowstone
Colors Galore picture in Yellowstone

Key Info

Price & Hours

  • $30 for seven-day park pass per car; $25 for seven-day park pass per motorcycle
  • 24/7 daily

Details

  • Natural Wonders, Sightseeing Type
  • 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.6
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    5.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.5

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

The Midway Geyser Basin's Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States, approximately 370 feet in size and around 121 feet deep. But its rainbow waters are what really make it fascinating: While the center of the pool's cerulean hue is pretty characteristic, the deep reds, bright yellows and fiery oranges encircling the edges are not. These colors are caused by pigmented thermophilic bacteria that thrive on the rich minerals produced by the geothermic activity. The color of the bacteria is determined by the temperature of the water – the center is too hot to support life – which is then reflected when light hits the organisms.

This natural wonder is one of the park's most photographed sights, so expect crowds when you visit. You may find fewer visitors if you arrive early, but fog is common until late in the morning on cooler days, so travelers recommend arriving around 10 a.m. No matter when you go, visitors say the attraction's Fairy Falls overlook will provide you with the best views.

Grand Prismatic Spring sits 2 miles southwest of the Lower Geyser Basin and 7 miles north of Old Faithful. Other nearby attractions include the Excelsior Geyser and the Turquoise Pool. Restrooms, a gift shop and multiple parking lots can be found at this attraction, but food and beverage concessions are not available.

The spring is free to visit 24 hours a day between April 20 and Nov. 6 (when roads to the attraction are open). But to access the park, you must buy a seven-day park pass. Additional details can be found on the National Park Service's Old Faithful Area page.

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Hotels Nearby

  • Thing to Do
  • Hotel
Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins

Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins ...

  • 4.8 Miles Away
  • 3.0-star Hotel Class
Old Faithful Inn

Old Faithful Inn ...

  • 4.5 Miles Away
  • 2.5-star Hotel Class
See all hotels in Yellowstone »

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#1 Old Faithful The world's most renowned geyser is a must-see for every Yellowstone visitor. Although it isn't the largest geyser in the world, Old Faithful's eruptions are definitely awe-inspiring ... Read more » pawel.gaul / Getty Images

#2 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Formed over thousands of years of erosion caused by wind, water and other natural forces, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the primary attraction in the Canyon Village area ... Read more » Fyletto / Getty Images

#3 Yellowstone Lake Sitting in the heart of Yellowstone's West Thumb area is Yellowstone Lake, the park's largest body of water and the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in ... Read more » SeanXu / Getty Images

#4 Grand Prismatic Spring The Midway Geyser Basin's Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States, approximately 370 feet in size and around 121 feet deep. But its rainbow ... Read more » lorcel / Getty Images

#5 Hayden Valley One of the best places to catch a glimpse of Yellowstone's fascinating wildlife is Hayden Valley. This lush valley north of Yellowstone Lake is a highly visited gathering place ... Read more » JREden / Getty Images

#6 Norris Geyser Basin Old Faithful may be Yellowstone's most well-known geyser, but this geothermal hot spot in the Norris area is the park's oldest and hottest. From its boardwalks, visitors can ... Read more » Fyletto / Getty Images

#7 Mammoth Hot Springs Sitting just southwest of the North Entrance in the aptly named Mammoth Hot Springs area, Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the park's more unique attractions. Known for its ... Read more » Yves Marcoux / Design Pics / Getty Images

#8 Lamar Valley Located between Yellowstone's Northeast Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs in the Tower-Roosevelt Area, Lamar Valley is a wildlife haven. In fact, this valley is often referred to as "America ... Read more » JurgaR / Getty Images

#9 Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center Those who want to learn about Yellowstone wildlife in a more controlled environment should take a break from the park and head to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center. Located ... Read more » Levente Siklsi / EyeEm / Getty Images

Old Faithful picture in Yellowstone
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone picture in Yellowstone
Yellowstone Lake picture in Yellowstone
Grand Prismatic Spring picture in Yellowstone
View of Hayden Valley picture in Yellowstone
Norris Geyser Basin picture in Yellowstone
Mammoth Hot Springs picture in Yellowstone
Lamar Valley picture in Yellowstone
Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center picture in Yellowstone
Old Faithful picture in Yellowstone
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone picture in Yellowstone
Yellowstone Lake picture in Yellowstone
Grand Prismatic Spring picture in Yellowstone
View of Hayden Valley picture in Yellowstone
Norris Geyser Basin picture in Yellowstone
Mammoth Hot Springs picture in Yellowstone
Lamar Valley picture in Yellowstone
Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center picture in Yellowstone

Old Faithful, Yellowstone's most famous attraction, earned its name from its highly predictable eruption schedule. pawel.gaul / Getty Images

The park's very own Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was formed by the rushing waters of the Yellowstone River. Fyletto / Getty Images

Yellowstone Lake features 141 miles of shoreline and is home to an abundance of wildlife and marine life, including elk, moose and trout. SeanXu / Getty Images

The colors in Grand Prismatic Spring are caused by pigmented bacteria that grow around the edges of the mineral-rich water. The colors change depending on the water's temperature. lorcel / Getty Images

Keep your eyes peeled for a myriad of fascinating creatures (think: bison, wolves and coyotes) that graze serene meadows and punctuate Hayden Valley's hillly landscape. JREden / Getty Images

The Old Faithful area's geysers may be the main reason you visit Yellowstone, but no trip would be complete without seeing the park's oldest and hottest geothermal region, Norris Geyser Basin. Fyletto / Getty Images

Mammoth Hot Springs' terraces are formed by calcium deposits left by the movement of hot water. The terraces are constantly changing shape. Yves Marcoux / Design Pics / Getty Images

When driving through the park's Northeast Entrance, you'll pass through the picturesque Lamar Valley. JurgaR / Getty Images

To get up close to some of Yellowstone's more dangerous critters, head to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana. Levente Siklsi / EyeEm / Getty Images

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