Black Sand Basin is a section of the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. Though small, it is packed with exceptional thermal features like geysers, colorful pools, and hot springs, and is often less crowded than its big-name neighbors. Visit as a quick stop during your Yellowstone National Park tour—it’s worth every second.
Black Sand Basin is accessed via a half-mile (0.8 kilometer) wooden boardwalk—one of the shortest walks in all of Yellowstone. In that distance, though, you pass by the periwinkle-colored Opalescent Pool, Emerald Pool, Rainbow Pool, Spouter Geyser, Cliff Geyser, and more. Nearby trails lead to Daisy Geyser and the Upper Geyser Basin, which reconnects with the trails near Old Faithful for a steaming, geyser-filled loop.
Visit as part of a guided tour of Yellowstone National Park for the benefit of included transportation and guided commentary or go on your own self-guided driving tour of the Yellowstone Lower Loop or Grand Loop Road. If you're not staying in Yellowstone, look out for tours from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to see Black Sand Basin and other nearby Yellowstone attractions like Castle Geyser and Fountain Paint Pot in a day.
Things to Know Before You Go
The boardwalk path is wheelchair accessible.
Due to high amounts of steam, it is prudent to keep technology protected.
Be sure to stay on the path for your safety.
How to Get There
Black Sand Basin is located on the Grand Loop Road and is best accessed in a private vehicle or as part of a guided tour. There is a parking area nearby, though it often fills up as the day goes on. You can also walk the 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from Old Faithful to Black Sand Basin.
When to Get There
Because it’s located on the Grand Loop Road—which is closed to vehicles in the winter—Black Sand Basin is best visited in either summer or fall. Head out in the morning for the fewest crowds.
To understand its name, look out for a sprinkling of jet-black sand when visiting Black Sand Basin. The area was named for the obsidian (volcanic rock) that’s been crushed down into the earth in that part of the park.