If it’s true that the great outdoors brings you worlds away from everyday life, then Yellowstone’s Fountain Paint Pot—with its noisy fumaroles, bubbling mudpots, and erupting geysers—may as well be in a different universe. This short hike starts with a visit to Celestine Pool and Silex Spring. Stop and gaze into the striking, turquoise waters that characterize these thermal features, but don’t get too close: these hotties flirt with the boiling point on a daily basis.
From here, follow the boardwalk north to the hike’s namesake: Fountain Paint Pot. A living lesson in geology, the Paint Pot owes much of its gurgling charisma to tiny, heat-loving organisms that convert solid rock into bubbling clay. Past the Paint Pot, the boardwalk swings by the ever-changing Red Spouter (a muddy pool in spring and early summer and a hissing fumarole in late summer and fall).
Next, stroll past Jet Geyser, a spring that propels 20-foot-high blasts of water and steam into the air every few minutes. Finish off the tour at a vantage point offering views of the rainbow-like runoff surrounding the Jelly, Clepsydra and Spasm Geysers. Return to the trailhead by following the boardwalk south back to Waypoint 2 and the parking lot.
MORE PARK INFO: Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-7381; nps.gov/yell/.
-Mapped by Jeff Chow