Black Sand Basin

Yellowstone National Park

This geyser basin, 1 mile northwest of Old Faithful, has a few interesting features. The eponymous black sand is derived from weathered volcanic glass (obsidian). You can access Black Sand Basin by car or, better, by foot from Daisy Geyser. Rangers lead hour-long walks here daily at 1pm.

Cliff Geyser is named for the geyserite wall that separates the geyser from Iron Spring Creek and is a frequent splasher. Nearby Ragged Spring frequently joins in the action with 12ft bursts. Emerald Pool looks like an exquisite flower with a lovely orange lip and gets its pretty color from yellow bacteria that blend with blue reflected from the sky. Rainbow Pool is connected underground to nearby Sunset Lake and is one of the more colorful in the park, though it's hard to see. The ground under the boardwalks here is literally boiling.

Unsigned Handkerchief Pool, just to the south of Rainbow Pool, was once one of Yellowstone’s most famous features. Visitors would place a handkerchief in the pool and watch it get sucked down and then spat out ‘clean’ through a side vent. The pool stopped functioning in the 1920s after a dimwit jammed logs into the opening, but it has since restored itself. Today it’s illegal to throw anything into any of Yellowstone’s thermal features.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Yellowstone National Park attractions

1. Upper Geyser Basin

1.01 MILES

While Old Faithful gets the most attention, there's lots to explore in Upper Geyser Basin, which has the densest collection of geysers in Yellowstone. On…

2. Morning Glory Pool

1.02 MILES

A steamy favorite that’s well worth the walk, beautiful Morning Glory Pool is named after its flower shape. Unfortunately, the pool is slowly changing…

3. Old Faithful Inn

1.11 MILES

Designed by Seattle architect Robert C Reamer and built in 1904, this is the only building in the park that looks as though it actually belongs here. The…

4. Old Faithful Visitor Education Center

1.22 MILES

This environmentally friendly center is all about the thermal features at Yellowstone, exploring the differences between geysers, hot springs, fumaroles…

5. Old Faithful

1.26 MILES

Though it’s neither the tallest nor even the most predictable geyser in the park, Old Faithful is the poster child for Yellowstone and a consistent crowd…

7. Biscuit Basin

1.58 MILES

Two miles north of Black Sand Basin, Biscuit Basin is named for biscuit-like deposits that surrounded stunning Sapphire Pool, but these were destroyed…

8. Grand Prismatic Spring

4.41 MILES

At 370ft wide and 121ft deep, Grand Prismatic Spring is the park’s largest and deepest hot spring. It’s also considered by many to be the most beautiful…