Grand Prismatic Spring is located in Midway Geyser Basin, just a few miles from Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful.

Its easily one of the most impressive sites in Yellowstone,

Standing on the boardwalk adjacent to the Grand Prismatic Spring, it is often hard even to comprehend what you’re seeing.

Steam pours up into the air, blocking your view, and your sense of what’s happening right in front of you.

View from boardwalk of Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park

A grand prism indeed

Warm and sunny days are better.

The warmth and brightness tone down the wall of steam that can block your view of the vast spring.

However, its not only steam which limit your view.

The low angle at which you view the spring from the board walk confines your perspective.

Fractal patterns pouring out of Grand Prismatic Spring

Otherworldly patterns mesmerize onlookers

Grand Prismatic Spring from Above

Have you ever seen a photo of Grand Prismatic taken from a drone or helicopter?

Literally, stunning.

Such a perspective isn’t possible from the boardwalk viewing area.

However, even without a drone, there is a way to add a little altitude to your perspective.

Aerial view of Grand Prismatic Spring

2010 photo taken above Fairy Falls Trail

When we first visited Yellowstone back in 2010, we did plenty of reading in preparation for our trip.

We learned of a way to get a birds-eye view of Grand Prismatic Spring.

It was an unofficial and farily tough  scramble up the hillside above the Fairy Falls Trail, adjacent to the spring.

The scramble was, indeed, tough, but so worth it. Its from here that we took the picture above, and the one below.

We visited Yellowstone the first time in 2010

2010, on the ridge above Fairy Falls Trail

So now, five years later, we fully planned to scramble up our hillside again.

We wanted to enjoy the stellar views again and to recreate our family picture.

However, when we approached the entrance to Fairy Falls Trail, we were dismayed to find it closed to all foot traffic.

Improvements Take Time

A worker nearby was just opening the gate from the roadway so his work truck could pass. I asked him what was up, and that’s when we heard the disappointing news.

Fairy Falls Trail would be closed for an entire season – probably two. And here’s the ironic part.They were closed so the park could finally build a sanctioned trail up the very hill we used to scramble.

It was difficult not to be disappointed. Visiting Yellowstone is a rare privilege, and we were saddened to miss our birds eye views. But we knew the closure was for good reason.

Minus a sanctioned trail, tourists in search of the epic view (including ourselves), would continue to have an impact  on the hillside over Grand Prismatic Spring.

It was a bittersweet moment. While the idea of the new trail stoked us up, we were bummed because we’d miss it, this time. 

View from adjacent Grand Prismatic Spring

In the background, the ridge above Fairy Falls Trail

We Willed a Way

So, we began walking from our parking spot along the main street (Grand Prismatic Spring parking lot gets full, fast), looking at the hillsides surrounding us to the east. And that’s when we saw it. A small trail winding up into the trees.

Certainly, it was unofficial. But at least it was an actual trail, and not a free-for-all scramble. We felt like we could explore it in good conscience. But would it lead to an epic view?

Looking down on Grand Prismatic Spring

A little perspective goes a long way

Indeed, it did. At the top, the wind was incredible, but so were the views. Totally worth it.

We hung out for an hour, or so, enriching our spirits in the marvelous scenery.

Who knows? Maybe the  Park Service will put an official trail here, too, one day?

Bird's eye view of Grand Prismatic Spring

Bird’s eye view of Grand Prismatic Spring

Travel More, Reclaim Health, Be with Family

We'll share our journey, and add value to yours.
Lessons, insights, and stories from the road. 2x/mo.
Let's Get Slow
SPAM-free since 2016. Unsubscribe at will.