How Can I Avoid the Crowds at Old Faithful?

Every year, Yellowstone draws in nearly three million visitors—most of them eager to see Old Faithful. The busy days of June through September.
Old Faithful at Sunset

Old Faithful at Sunset

In 2015, Yellowstone drew in more than 4 million visitors—most of them eager to see Old Faithful. The busy days of June through September bring throngs of tourists from all over the globe hoping to witness Old Faithful’s folk-tale beauty and cross it off the bucket list. Since Yellowstone brings in most of its visitors during the summer months, securing a great view of the geyser’s cone can be especially challenging, even though the scalding mist can reach 90 to 120 feet into the air for all to see. Plus, crowds typically peak in Yellowstone from noon until 6 p.m. when bus tours and visitors are expected to arrive and leave the park.

Park visitors waiting for Old Faithful to erupt. Photo by NPS Jay Elhard

Park visitors waiting for Old Faithful to erupt. Photo by NPS Jay Elhard

Thankfully, Old Faithful crowds can be avoided. The mornings (dawn until 11 a.m.) and evenings (6 p.m. until dusk) are perfect window times for beating the tour groups and family wagons and securing a spot with an uninterrupted view. If you prefer the morning, all you need is a trusty alarm clock, maybe a strong cup of coffee and an early start to the day. However, if you prefer the evening, you may need to secure a cozy room at the Old Faithful Inn.

If you’re really up for a one-of-a-kind experience and don’t mind braving a freezing-cold morning, try seeing this national treasure burst right around sunrise. Just imagine the sun’s early morning rays glowing through the geyser’s mist. What a sight to behold, and there’s likely nobody else around!

Related Stories: About Old FaithfulYellowstone's Upper Geyser Basin


Yellowstone Old Faithful Geyser

About Old Faithful, Yellowstone's Famous Geyser

Watch Old Faithful erupt and and explore exciting FAQs about Yellowstone's most famous geyser.

Registration desk at Yellowstone's Lake Lodge

How Far in Advance Do I Need to Book Hotels and Campgrounds?

Some seasons, planning a trip to Yellowstone can be a breeze. But in summer, you may need to reserve a year in advance.

Man on a Yellowstone boardwalk in front of a hot springs

Has Anyone Ever Fallen into a Geyser?

Visitors have in the past slipped and fallen into hot springs, or were severely injured with burns from erupting geysers, but it is extremely rare.

A woman watching a bison from a safe distance in Yellowstone

How close can I get to wild animals in Yellowstone?

Stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards away from other large mammals like bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and coyotes.

Yellowstone Old Faithful Geyser

See Old Faithful and 60% of the World's Geysers in Yellowstone's Upper Geyser Basin

See Old Faithful, Castle Geyser, Riverside Geyser and geothermal features of Yellowstone country's steaming vents, erupting geysers and gurgling hot springs.

Grizzly bear by lake

How many people get killed by bears in Yellowstone?

Although both black bears and grizzlies have a fearsome reputation for scratching or mauling people to death, attacks rarely occur, and deaths are even chancer.

Bison on the road near Yellowstone National Park

Do I need a car to tour Yellowstone? How long does it take to drive the Grand Loop?

Cars are the best option for taking a trip around Yellowstone unless you are riding with a bus tour or concessionaire.

Couple smoking and hiking

Can I Smoke in Yellowstone? How about marijuana?

Smoking is permitted only inside vehicles and designated areas. It's forbidden in thermal and natural areas. Boom! As for possessing marijuana, it's illegal on Federal land.

Gun in Yellowstone

Can I Bring a Gun to Yellowstone?

Yes, you can carry a gun in Yellowstone. But it's illegal to fire it - even in self defense. And once you exit Yellowstone, you could be in one of three states.