Fountain Paint Pot is one of several mud pots found within Yellowstone National Park that bursts and pops as the mud thickens throughout summer. The surrounding Fountain Paint Pot area is known for its pools of thermophiles (heat-loving bacteria) that gather to form multihued puddles in the earth, as well as mini-geysers and fumaroles.
The Fountain Paint Pot area is one of the most accessible part of Yellowstone National Park, and one where you can see all four types of thermal features found in Yellowstone—hot springs, mud pots, geysers, and fumaroles. Most tours of the Yellowstone Lower Loop include a walk along the Fountain Paint Pot boardwalk, as do winter tours to Old Faithful by snowmobile or snowcoach.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Fountain Paint Pot area is a must-visit for all first-time visitors to the national park.
- Don’t forget to bring sun protection, as there’s not much shade in the Fountain Paint Pot area.
- Plan to spend about 30 minutes touring the volcanic features of the area.
How to Get There
Fountain Paint Pot is accessed via a half-mile (0.80-kilometer) loop boardwalk known as the Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail. The easy trail is right next to Grand Loop Road in the Lower Geyser Basin area of the park. Plan to visit early in the morning to enjoy the scenery before the crowds pick up.
When to Get There
Fountain Paint Pot changes with the seasons. It’s at its most fluid and bubbly in the spring as snowmelt provides plenty of water to the pools. By the end of summer and into early autumn, the mud starts to thicken and dry.
Not all geysers are as reliable as this one, situated in the Fountain Paint Pot area. In Ancient Greece, a clepsydra was a type of water clock, and Clepsydra Geyser erupts like clockwork every three minutes. After an earthquake in 1959, the geyser now erupts almost continuously, making it a star in Yellowstone’s Lower Geyser Basin.