Black Sand Basin in Yellowstone National Park

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Black Sand Basin

Just a mile north of Old Faithful, explore Black Sand Basin, one of Yellowstone’s most colorful basins that boasts a small isolated collection of geysers and hot springs.

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  • Close to Old Faithful for easy access.
  • See thermal springs as colorful as any rainbow.
  • Enjoy the deep colorful Emerald Pool.
  • Perhaps catch the rare occurrence of Rainbow Pool erupting.
  • Witness the strange skeleton trees at Opalescent Pool.
  • Watch Cliff Geyser crater fill with water to see an impressive eruption.

What can I do and see at Black Sand Basin?

Named for its black sand (obsidian) which is formed when lava cools too quickly. Obsidian is the natural form of glass. This rare obsidian sand covers much of the Black Sand Basin, which is located within the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. Jewel-like geysers and beautiful hot springs show vivid colors, which are the main attraction of the area.

  • Emerald Pool: Deep emerald colors blend amidst the orange and yellow fringes that form the outer ring of the pool.
  • Rainbow Pool: View the colors of a rainbow along the edges of this pool. Rainbow Pool rarely erupts, but when it did in 1948, it shot to a height of 25 feet.
  • Opalescent Pool: When Spouter Geyser began erupting, the run-off flowed into Opalescent Pool, flooding the surrounding area and creating white skeleton trees amidst a rainbow colored pool.
  • Cliff Geyser: When this crater fills with boiling water, you know an eruption is about to take place. The Cliff Geyser erupts every few minutes and can reach heights of 30 feet. It's a fountain geyser which means it erupts from a pool.
  • Ranger Led Walks: Park rangers lead interpretive walks around the Black Sand Basin. Check the park newspaper or at the Old Faithful Visitor Center for times.

Where is the Black Sand Basin?

The Black Sand Basin Yellowstone Park is located only a mile north of Old Faithful Visitor Center.