Geyser Gazing – Riverside Geyser Rainbow

I’m back in southern Utah now, and my third Yellowstone summer is a rapidly fading memory. The high elevation hot springs of one of the world’s largest active volcanoes have been replaced by a delicately sculpted red rock desert landscape. I can’t help but think back, though, on that last weekend in the Park.

Sawmill Geyser

In “Geyser Gazing” over my last several posts, CW and I were on a mission to see as many predictable geysers in the Upper Basin as we could. So with Castle Geyser, Black Sand Pool and Daisy Geyser, along with a couple of tasty mid–day milkshakes under our bear–spray toting belts we again commenced bounding down the boardwalk, intent on seeing world–renowned Riverside Geyser erupt. We had its prediction time.  Nothing could stop us now! 

Grotto Fountain erupts in the distance

Except that on our way we were ambushed once again, this time by the impressively spouting Grotto Fountain and its steaming neighbor, Spa Geyser.

We missed any eruption of Grotto Geyser (foreground)
IMG_5688Grotto Fountain
I hunted in the trees for this Grotto Fountain sign
IMG_5683 SpaGeyserAnd GrottoFountain
Spa Geyser simmers against a backdrop of Grotto Fountain

Jeez, these things are everywhere!

In my three summers at Yellowstone I had patiently listened to people rave on and on about howtotally amazing(!) Riverside was, but I had never personally seen it erupt. I finally got so annoyed at listening to everyone that I decided I simply must succumb to the pressure. I would elbow my way through the Old Faithful crowds to see it. Strangely enough the Friday before Labor Day turned out to be a perfect, crowd–free day.

IMG_5689RiversideGeyserPrediction Sign
Riverside eruption prediction sign

CW and I dragged ourselves away from the shimmering jets of Grotto Fountain (not an easy task to accomplish) and plunked ourselves down on a bench to wait in what scant shade we could find. Eventually we relocated to a scorchingly sunny spot on a log that was as close as we could get to the geyser without actually wading into and across the Firehole River.

It is likely that Riverside is an isolated spring, not connected in its subterranean plumbing system with any other hot spring. Because of its isolation the flow of water and energy into its system is quite constant. Its eruption interval is extremely regular, even more so statistically over the years than Old Faithful, and has been nearly the same since at least the 1880s. It is possible that it will continue to erupt in a similar manner for a long time to come.

Was it worth a three–year wait to see that arching spray of liquid diamonds and brilliant rainbow of Riverside Geyser?

An ephemeral rainbow exists in the mist

This picture says it all!

After a day of serious geyser gazing!

Katherine Hanson

Hey there, I'm Katherine Hanson, the curator of, a site dedicated to uncovering the hidden gems of the USA. With a passion for exploration and a love for discovering the beauty in every corner of this vast country, I'm on a mission to share the best cities, national parks, historic landmarks, and entertainment hotspots that the USA has to offer. From towering mountains to bustling cities, there's so much to see and experience. Join me as I embark on adventures and uncover the wonders that make America truly remarkable.
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