The Monument Geyser Basin Trail was my favorite hike during my visit to Yellowstone National Park this past week. This trail is a little under the radar as it isn’t listed on the National Park website. The Monument Geyser Basin is shown on the park map, but no trail or further information is given.
The trailhead is located off of the main park road, between the Norris and Madison junctions. Right before we arrived at the trailhead we saw a grizzly bear walking along the roadway. That really jazzed us up as we arrived at the trailhead. It wasn’t well marked and the parking was limited to a dirt area on the side of the road that could probably only fit 2-3 vehicles.
The air was warm and the skies gray as we started the hike. I had expected an immediate vertical hike, but was surprised as the trail blazed through the trees along the bank of the Gibbon River. After about 1/2 a mile, the trail cut left and the steep ascent finally began. I estimate we picked up about 600 feet in elevation over the next 1/2 mile. The overlook views got progressively more breathtaking the higher up we went. I especially liked seeing the Gibbon River snaking through the valley below.
At the top of the mountain lies the Monument Geyser Basin. This geyser basin isn’t as impressive as the ones farther south in the Old Faithful area. We saw a little spurting water and some steam but not much else. We could hear water gurgling nearby but couldn’t locate the source. We checked with a Park Ranger later and he wasn’t aware of large flows of water up there and promised to check it out the next time he was in the area.
The reason I liked this trail so much was that I felt like we had it to ourselves. Much of the Yellowstone iconic sights are very crowded so it was nice to have some space to ourselves. At 2.4 miles round trip this is a trail where you can work up a sweat, enjoy beautiful scenery, and also complete pretty quickly. I hope you can try this trail the next time you visit Yellowstone National Park. rk