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Natural Wonders: World’s Tallest Geyser, North America’s Smallest Bird and Best Shade Tree

Discover the world's tallest geyser, North America's smallest bird, and the country's best shade tree on these three treks.


The World’s Tallest Geyser

Old Faithful is old news. This one spouts higher.

The Wonder

Steamboat Geyser’s major eruptions gush a boiling column of water 30 stories above Yellowstone’s Norris Geyser Basin, transforming nearby slopes into a muddy mess. After the three- to 40-minute spectacle, steam jets audible from a mile away roar from Steamboat’s vents for up to 36 hours. Minor earthquakes sometimes precede major eruptions, but scientists haven’t pinpointed a geologic trigger for this wildly unpredictable geyser: Historically, four days to 50 years separate mega-blasts. The most recent was in 2005.

The Way

From Norris Basin, take the boardwalk .25 mile to see Steamboat’s minor eruptions—up to 20 feet high every few minutes. Turn left after Cistern Springs and follow the trail through the park’s hottest and most active thermal region. Return past Steamboat to close the 1.5-mile loop. Want more? Take a .75-mile loop through Porcelain Basin’s sulfur-scented moonscape.

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