Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Biscuit Geyser Basin - Yellowstone National Park



Biscuit Basin is home to some of the prettiest pools of water within Yellowstone. This area has a wide boardwalk that allows you to approach all the pools and look down into their deep and colorful waters. The trail head for a 2 mile round trip hike to Mystic Falls branches off from the Biscuit Basin Boardwalk.

Location: Biscuit Basin is located on the southwest side of the Lower Loop of the Grand Loop Road. It is almost 2 miles from Black Sand Basin and 3.5 miles south of Midway Geyser Basin.

Hiking Distance and Time:  It should take less than 30 minutes to walk the whole board walk.  The hike to Mystic Falls will take between 1 to 2 hours.

Open Season: The boardwalk opens along with this section of the Grand Loop Road in mid April and stays open until late October.  The trail to Mystic Falls is open from Mid June until September.

Date of Visit: Sunday June 11, and Saturday July 29, 2017 as well as times in May 2008 and July 2010.


In the summer of 2017 I received a job with Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Yellowstone National Park. I moved there with my husband and our four young children. We lived in a 25 foot RV and spent all our free time exploring the park. This is one of many posts that I will write about specific features within Yellowstone National Park. Be sure to check out my other posts for more tips for your Yellowstone visit.

Biscuit Basin is sandwiched between two large "must see" areas of Yellowstone National Park.  Grand Prismatic Spring is located 3.5 miles to the north in the Midway Geyser Basin.  Old Faithful is located 3.5 miles to the south in the Upper Geyser Basin.  Since it's located between these two popular areas of the park, you may be wondering if Biscuit Basin is worth a visit.

I'd say it is. There are several beautiful pools in the area as well as a few small geysers that you may be lucky to see erupt.

The only drawback is the traffic. Biscuit Basin suffers from the usual congestion you find in this area of the park.  It's hard to find a parking spot between the hours of 10:00 am and 5:00 pm during the busy summer months.  However, since Biscuit Basin doesn't have a famous feature it's parking lot fills up a little slower than the surrounding areas. Even if the parking lots at Fountain Paint Pots and Midway Geyser Basin are full you might have a chance of finding a spot at Biscuit Basin.

I think this area should be renamed Jewel Basin because the pools in the Biscuit Basin are some of the prettiest colors you'll see the in the park. Also Jewel Geyser is located in this area. The name Biscuit Basin apparently comes from some biscuit shaped features that were inside of Sapphire  Pool.  However, those features disappeared in 1959 when Sapphire Pool went through a period of eruptions. 

This area has a couple of nice features that are fun to visit. And they are all located within a short walk on a boardwalk. I'm going to show you some of the features we saw on our various visits to Biscuit Basin.  Well start with Black Opal Pool which is the first feature you see in the area. I always love the colors.

 Sapphire Pool is probably the most famous pool in the area. There are usually throngs of tourists lining the boardwalk to take pictures of this pool.
 My kids liked being surrounded by the mist coming off of the pool.
 Here's a look at the boardwalk.  Even though this place isn't as popular as nearby areas it still draws a lot of tourists all day long during the summer.
 My favorite feature in the area is Shell Spring.  When Brandon and I visited the park in 2008 we were enchanted by this active little spring.  The water sloshes around and squirts out of the spring on a regular basis.
 Biscuit Basin doesn't just have thermal features.  It's also the trail head for the Mystic Falls Hike. The hike to the waterfall is 2 miles round trip and takes between 1-2 hours.  There is also a mile long extension of the trail that takes you up a hill to an overlook of the whole area.  From what I've read you can see Old Faithful erupt in the far off distance from this overlook.

My family wasn't interested in the overlook trail, but we did want to see Mystic Falls so on a Saturday in Late July we decided to do the hike.  We were lucky and found the one empty parking space in the whole parking lot.

We passed the thermal features and headed to the back section of the boardwalk trail.  At Avoca Springs we left the boardwalk and started following a wide, dirt trail.  The trail starts out somewhat flat and with decent shade from the surrounding trees.
The trail does get steeper and more rocky as it starts following the Little Firehole River.
The falls themselves are pretty and are worth the hike to see them. 
They are 70 feet tall and have a number of picturesque cascades. As far as waterfalls within Yellowstone go this one is in the mid-range.  It's pretty and the hike isn't too far, but it's also not really a "must see."  If you have the time to hike to this waterfall - then go ahead and do it.
The trail continues up the hillside.  We weren't interested in doing all the switch backs and we had other places to be that day so we didn't continue up the trail.  Instead we turned around and went down the way we had come.

Another hiking option at Biscuit Basin is the extension trail to the Old Faithful area.  This hike is over 3 miles but is mostly flat the whole time. The trail passes several other geysers and hot springs. I've never done this trail, but I've always kept it in mind as an extreme option for visiting Biscuit Basin if we couldn't get a parking spot.

Recommendation: If you can get a parking spot, Biscuit Basin is a wonderful addition to your visit to Yellowstone. You'll see beautiful thermal features and have the option to hike to a waterfall. However, Biscuit Basin can be skipped if you are running late or can't find a parking spot. 

Directions: Biscuit Basin is easy to find on the Grand Loop Road. It's visible from the road and the turn off is easily marked. It is about 2.5 miles northwest of the turn off for the Old Faithful Area.


Places Nearby: Black Sand Basin is less than 2 miles south of Biscuit Basin. The parking lot is even smaller so if traffic is bad you probably won't get a spot in Black Sand.  However, if you can find a spot Black Sand Basin is another interesting place to visit.

Want more Yellowstone Vacation Ideas? Visit my list of Things you can't miss and hidden gems along the way.

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I would love to hear what you think. Did I get it right, or was I dead wrong? What was your experience like?

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