From Mammoth village, I decided to go down the western part of the Yellowstone Road loop first, so if you’re road tripping from the North Entrance of the park, you’d likely pass Norris Geyser Basin on the way to Old Faithful village. Most people skip this part of the park due to time constraints, but I think it’s worth it to stop and see all of the hot springs and geysers it has to offer! Here are all of my recommended spots to see, eat, and stay in Norris Geyser Basin village:
Museum of the National Park Ranger
Because Yellowstone was the first of the USA’s national parks, its a fitting place to host the history of the national park rangers. The Museum of the National Park Ranger is a little log cabin a few miles north of the Norris Geyser Basin. While learning about park rangers, you can also meet volunteer retired rangers who can give firsthand accounts on the profession. One time, my friends and met a ranger and asked what the craziest questions he’s ever got asked by visitors were. These were the gems he gave us:
- “At what elevation do deer become elk?”
- “How long did it take them to paint the Grand Canyon”, and my favorite:
- “When do they turn on the bison?” (like they’re robots or something?!)
Norris Geyser Basin
Norris Geyser Basin is a massive geothermal field full of colorful hot springs, small geysers, and the famed Steamboat geyser.
My favorite part of the Norris Geyser Basin is that its hot springs are a bit different than the others you’ll see scattered throughout the park. The spring water is a kind of milky-opaque, making the basin into a palate of soft pastel pools. Since this is a bigger basin, it’s divided into multiple basins and features, which I’ll detail below:
Norris Geyser Basin Museum
At the entrance to the basin is a small museum with lots of cool facts about the geothermal features at Norris. Here, you can learn about the extreme environments that product the bright spring colors, and how Norris Geyser Basin contains the “hottest, oldest, and most dynamic” geothermal features in the whole park!
The boardwalks over Porcelain Basin wrap around of the thermal landscape. I feel like the name is appropriate, because you can look across the whole field unobscured, over a pallet of colorful springs. One stretch of the path is pretty steep, but lets you see the whole basin from above.
Black Sand Basin
The boardwalks of Black Sand Basin are much longer, traveling through the woods and past some of Yellowstone’s more unique geysers and pools. Because its a longer trail, It tends to be less crowded than the trails at Poreclain basin, and so you get more time to look at each geothermal feature. The Black Sand Basin has some of my favorite thermal features in the park:
Norris Geyser Basin is also home to the formidable Steamboat Geyser. What makes this geyser so legendary? Well, it’s the biggest active geyser in the entire world, and shoots scalding water up to 300 feet in the sky when it erupts. And what’s more, it’s an unpredictable geyser, so you’ll never know when you’re about to witness a massive eruption. Even when not erupting, it shoots water up to 20 feet in the air, and my friends and I frequently would wait in front of it, convincing ourselves that an explosion was due any minute. Even though I’ve never seen it erupt, you can see the evidence of it, all of the surrounding trees and earth have been scorched.
Monument Geyser Basin
Monument Geyser Basin is another basin a bit further down the way from Norris featuring several hot springs an a ton of little geysers. So many of the geysers here erupt so unusually that I find them especially memorable.
Spazmatic geyser is a personal favorite, and just like the name indicates, it goes off in a series of arrhythmic burst of water and steam. Another one that I find especially cool is jet geyser, where water erupts from several small holes in the ground and sprays in all different directions.
Artist Paint Pots
The nearby Artist Paint Pots give you a chance to see one of the more uncommon of the five geothermal features of Yellowstone- mud pots!
When hot springs are “contaminated” with mud, they become mud pots, and what happens when boiling, bubbling spring water flows up through the earth into a giant mud puddle? It hurls chunks of boiling mud into the air! It’s one of the coolest natural phenomena to see, and you’re guaranteed to feel like you’re on the set of Jurrasic Park or some other prehistoric movie.
The boardwalks at Artist Paint Pots take you around the various mud pots of all different colors, sizes, and activity levels. I’m not sure what it is about mud pots, but I think they’re so much fun to watch and could stay there all day, so definitely give this stop a go if you can!
Helpful note: this parking lot is on the smaller side, so if you’re dying to see it, make it a morning visit!
The Virginia Cascades are about 3 miles East of Norris down the scenic Old Road. Cascades are a type of waterfall where instead of dropping into a pool below, the water gently flows down sloping rock. It’s a lovely waterfall, and if you have time, its a nice quiet place to enjoy.
Where to eat in/near Norris Village
There’s not much in the way of food near Norris Village itself, but you have a few options nearby. The Gibbon Meadows picnic area is a fantastic spot just North of the Monument Geyser Basin if you’ve got your own food, but if you’re looking for restaurants, the closest options are 15 miles East down the Old Road in Canyon Village, which has several dining options from snacks to sit down meals.
The Warming Hut at Madison Junction (south of Norris) has a snack bar, but this is only open in the winter.
Where to stay in/near Norris Village
In the Norris Village area, the only option for lodging is the Norris Campground. Run by the NPS, this campground is situated in the lovely Gibbon Meadows, and is within walking distance from both the Norris Geyser Basin and the Museum of the National Park Ranger! This is a convenient and good value stay at around $25 per night. For more info on the Norris Campground, click here.
If you’re looking for hotel-style lodging, your closest option is to travel 15 miles East on the Old Road to Canyon Village, with several hotel options. Some other options are to travel a little over 30 miles to the town of West Yellowstone, which also has a ton of hotel options outside the park.
So that’s everything to see, what to eat, and where to stay in Norris Village of Yellowstone National Park! I hope this short guide was helpful for planning your visit, and I’d love to hear your favorite places and things about Norris.
Next up on this virtual road trip, we’ll go South along the stretch of the Grand Loop Road leading to Madison Junction, and then explore Madison Junction itself. Can’t wait for this next leg of the trip! 🙂
If you want to start from the beginning, click here to hop to Mammoth Hot Springs Village.
If you want to see the last post, click here to read about everything to see between the Mammoth and Norris villages.
Thanks for reading!