Using Caution to Preserve Old Faithful Visitor Areas

May 30 2014

As one of the most popular destinations within Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful is a fragile natural wonder. Still being regularly studied by scientists from around the world, these experts advise that extreme caution is exercised when developing this sensitive geothermic area. In fact, scientists recommend that before more development is pursued, the Upper Geyser Basin hydrothermal system should be subject to additional research.

The Old Faithful area teams with tourists, often seeing more than 20,000 visitors daily, as the geyser erupts on a regular 90-minute schedule. In fact, most of the parking areas surrounding Old Faithful are completely full by noon, which has become an ongoing problem.

The area surrounding Old Faithful is developed, but has been done in segments. Originally, a lodge was build for visitors, but due to poor planning the area is now an underground jungle of power, water and sewer lines that were not subject to methodical public works planning.

A new scientific report, issued by the Old Faithful Science Review Panel, recommends that the park consider developing staging areas and offering shuttle buses to transport visitors to and from Old Faithful. This would help limit future development needs, while still allowing the general public to experience and witness this site first-hand. Scientists believe this will allow for optimal preservation of the current geyser features, while accommodating future geothermic activities.

Experts agree that the underground plumbing system that makes up the Upper Geyser Basin is largely unexplored and not well understood. This makes it extremely difficult to pursue future development without a risk for compromising the area’s ecosystem. Scientists recommend erring on the side of caution with this complex system.

The report highlights three unique Old Faithful categories:

Red – This zone contains active hydrothermal systems. It is advised that all development within these zones be prohibited.
Yellow – This indicates that no active geothermal features are present, but scientists recommend additional testing to confirm.
Green – These areas are considered stable and are the only areas for development recommended by scientists.

The report states that ongoing testing is highly recommended and installing new groundwater pressure monitors would greatly help determine the stability of the region.

Yellowstone Holiday is a West Yellowstone campground located on the shores of Hebgen Lake. They offer a convenient location to Yellowstone National Park, which is an excellent alternative to staying in the park’s expensive onsite hotels, lodges and cabins.