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Yellowstone Driving Guide: Madison Junction to West Thumb

Yellowstone Park Entrance Fee

Best Season

Spring, Summer, Fall

Visitor Center

Old Faithful




Old Faithful

The Trail:

For an overview of our entire Yellowstone National Park Driving Guide visit the overview page by clicking here

The road from Madison to West Thumb is an interesting part of the park. It offers the least far off panoramic views but is probably the most visited part of the park where it houses many geyser basins and the most famous spot in the park in Old Faithful. Heading South from Madison Junction your first stop should be the short one-way side road call the Firehole Canyon Drive. The river gets its name because it is warmer than other rivers in the area from the many thermal areas that feed hot water into the river. The drive will take you to Firehole Falls which in spring is a very powerful 40 foot fall.

Just past the falls there is a nice swimming hole that is open in summer and fall. Its a great place for kids.

Back on the main road you will pass through many open meadows where Bison are common.

The next stop is the Lower Geyser Basin where Fountain Paint Pot is the popular feature. It is covered separately here:

Fountain Paint Pots

Next up is another short one-way side road called Firehole Lake Drive where there are other thermal features viewable from the car. Bison are also common here.

Next up is Midway Geyser Basin. This is one of the busiest spots in the park since it house Grand Prismatic Spring which is arguably the prettiest and by far the largest hot spring in the park. This short boardwalk hike is covered here:

Midway Geyser Basin

Just past the Midway Geyser Basin is the trail head for the popular Fairy Falls.

Fairy Falls Trek

As mentioned earlier this area is very thermal feature heavy and the next one up is Biscuit Basin. Also accessed from the same spot is Mystic Falls.

Biscuit Basin Trek

Mystic Falls Trek

Up next is Black Sand Basin. This is the smallest and probably the best one to skip but still has two cool pools and some small geysers.

Black Sand Basin Trek

The next stop is the popularity crown jewel of the park. Old Faithfully is visited by the vast majority of people visiting. The Old Faithful Inn is also an awesome place to explore.

The Upper Geyser Basin offers the most hiking of the main thermal areas and has some awesome features including the Morning Glory Pool. For info on the hiking visit here:

Upper Geyser Basin Trek

From Old Faithful the road quickly begins to climb. You will see the signs for Kepler Cascades where the river drops 150 feet in a long series of drops. It is well worth the stop for a 30 yard walk to the view point.

The road will travel over the continental divide two times before reaching West Thumb. The first has two pretty lily filled ponds.

From here on its a few more uneventful miles to West Thumb.
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About The Author
I love adventure! I live in Cache Valley, Utah. Do you have questions on any of my Treks? Email me @ joshua.oyler@gmail.com

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