Fairy Creek Trail to Imperial Geyser [CLOSED]

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Yellowstone National Park

Fairy Creek Trail to Imperial Geyser is a 6.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October.

Distance: 6.5 miles Elevation Gain: 387 feet Route Type: Out & Back

kid friendly


nature trips


bird watching



hot springs




wild flowers





no dogs

It has been reported this trail has a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information. Short route: Park 1 mile south of Midway Geyser Basin, cross the steel bridge and walk 1 mile to the trailhead. Long route: Park at the end of Fountain Flat Dr. and walk 1.75 miles to trailhead. The trail travels through young forest to the 197-foot-tall Fairy Falls passing Grand Prismatic Spring, wildflowers, lodgepole pines, and more. The hike to Fairy Falls is very easy despite its length. The trail passes Grand Prismatic Spring, and a short detour scramble up a hill offers a spectacular view of the spring. Along the hike are tons of wildflowers, obsidian, lodgepole pines, and other wildlife.

18 hours ago

We did this as a family of 17 last summer with 9 kids ages 7-14 and it was fantastic!! It’s wooded a good part of the way, so not overly sunny but bring your really good mosquito spray! Between Fairy Falls and Imperial geyser was a big field where buffalo had clearly been recently (but none when we were there) so there was fresh-ish scat that was a BIG hit with all of the kids. There were mud pots as well. Highly recommend!

7 months ago

8 months ago

Definitely not intermediate hike but clearly an easy hike. It is flat all the way to the imperial geyser. You will hike through a very young forest (it burned a couple of years ago) with small trees until the fall. The fall is not the best i've seen but it was fair. The geyser though is pretty awesome. I recommend you to walk the very steep slope (if you feel doing it) on the other side of the geyser to have a better view of the geyser and the basin if you go a little bit further, it worth the 10min extra. Beware while going down on the way back it can be slippery but not dangerous if you take care and have hiking shoes.

8 months ago

Nice, easy hike with a view of Grand Prismatic Spring along the way. Definitely go the extra distance from Fairy Falls to Imperial Geyser, well worth it.

9 months ago

just great, 7 miles in total

10 months ago

Be ready to walk across logs or go off trail a bit to get around some muddy pools. The waterfall is splendid, and most of the hike to the waterfall itself is tight packed woods so you needn't worry too much about the sun.

no shade
10 months ago

We had intended to do the shorter Fairy Falls trail but somehow didn’t notice the turn off. Turned out to be a very happy accident. The longer trail had almost no traffic and walked right past a cute little geyser. There’s also a section that was basically walking on balance beams. Not a lot of trees for shade but we had a great view of the falls for miles as we hiked to them. It was muddy in places but not too bad. Mostly flat so it wasn’t too bad hiking/walking 4 more miles than we intended to. We really loved this one.

10 months ago

Samantha Lewis’s review below nailed it. The hike starts off relatively mundane (and crowded due to its ease) but gets much better closer to the falls, which provide some nice shade and spray to cool down on a hotter day. To go past the falls and on to the geyser (there are two, one that isn’t accessible from the trail and one that is), you have to double back a bit and cross the river to pick the trail back up, which wasn’t a difficult crossing (plenty of downed trees across as bridges). Highly recommend continuing on, as you get very up close and personal to a very active geyser (smaller than Old Faithful but without the long wait!). We also continued up the short steep hill behind the geyser which gave some great panoramic views of the geyser and falls, as well as the valley. A fellow hiker mentioned a pretty lily pad lake further on, but somehow a bison had wandered his way up the hill and cut us off so we couldn’t see ourselves. It had rained in Yellowstone a few days prior to our visit and the trail was still muddy in parts but very manageable with boots and easy to navigate around as needed. I’d recommend bringing some bug spray - they were killers once in the wooded section and we had to save several fellow hikers out there who neglected to bring some along! Overall a very nice hike with great views and not overly challenging (especially with moderate weather).

Wed Jan 02 2019

Stunning, really loved it

Sun Nov 04 2018

Hiked to the prismatic overlook, and then finished on this trail. Totaled about 10 miles. The imperial geyser was the highlight of the trip. Hike was pretty boring compared to other hikes, but was very easy. Worth seeing the geyser over the falls or prismatic.

Tue Jul 24 2018

Had to scramble into the woods to let a herd of bison pass. The falls are spectacular.

Sat Jul 14 2018

started before 9 so had trail to ourselves most of the time (so nice given how busy it can get at midway!).. easy walk to falls and 2 geysers.. go up the hill for great view of imperial geyser.. we did the loop and walked through meadow back to the fountain trail - saw 3 bison and just kept following the orange square guides - felt very isolated in wide open meadows and geysers so was great although started getting pretty hot.. walk back on fountain flats path to midway parking lot was uneventful.. stopped for lunch at firehole river...

Thu Jul 05 2018

Wasn’t super impressed with the views of grand prismatic spring. A nice short incline but very crowded.

Wed Jul 04 2018

I'm giving this 5 stars, but with a caveat: the initial part of the hike is very boring and very crowded. The best part is the falls and beyond, so the beginning/end of the hike are a bit of a drudge. The geyser is totally worth it, though. Leaving the parking lot, it's a wide, flat gravel trail. There's tons of people heading up to the overlook. You walk alongside the springs which is nice. There were lots of muddy parts, but they're easy to get around. The trail then passes through a sparse forest for a while. There's really nothing interesting to see here and I was somewhat regretting choosing this hike. The portion approaching the falls (less than 0.25 miles) is very rocky, but still mostly flat. Getting up to the falls you need to climb over some logs. The falls were also crowded around midday. You can climb over some logs and rocks to get closer to the falls. I also climbed a bit up the side, which I'd only recommend if you have good shoes and are comfortable with a bit of climbing as it's steep and the footing is loose. To continue, you need to cross over the little stream via logs. It's not too bad and the water isn't deep so you could just wade through it, but this may be a problem if you need more stability when walking. As of 7/2, the trail is very muddy in the portions leading up to and away from the falls. There are logs and boards, but you'll still probably get your shoes a little muddy. The trail continues through a meadow and more forest. The trail here is more interesting but still mostly flat. If you continue clockwise you'll arrive at the Imperial Geyser. This geyser erupts very frequently, making it well worth the trip! You can get right up next to it. I saw very few people throughout this part of the hike, so it really felt like a hidden gem. There's a hill next to the geyser that's not part of the trail, but you can climb up it to get a great overhead view. As a warning, the hill is very steep and the footing is loose. That portion is difficult and strenuous, but it's not part of the trail and is totally optional. Continuing past the geyser, you walk along a very interesting creek and pass another geyser in the distance. You can continue back at this point, but I'd recommend taking a brief detour into the meadow. (You reach a fork: right goes back to the falls, straight goes on to the meadow.) I walked for about a mile into the meadow and saw no one else. I believe this trail eventually goes to the Imperial Meadows campground. The trail through the meadow is obvious and easy to follow. You get a distance view of the falls and a panoramic view with lots of wildflowers. I also saw a lone bison playing in the distance, which was beautiful. Overall the easy rating for this hike is accurate. There are a couple of tricky points around the falls, but they're doable for most people including kids. The falls and geyser are definitely worth the long gravel part of the trail. Keep in the trailhead from the parking lot off the Grand Loop road is very popular since it leads to the overlook of the prismatic springs. When I arrived around 11 AM, the parking lot was full and most of the parking alongside the road was also. I think there's high turnover, but you'll spend a lot of time waiting. I parked at a pullout about a third of a mile away and walked alongside the road.

Sun Jul 01 2018

Absolutely love this trail! Fairly level the entire way through and the scenery is beautiful! Plus there aren’t usually a lot of people.

Tue Jun 26 2018

Best hike and geysers in the park!! Forget old faithful. This one is way cooler. We were the only people at geysers at 10. Everyone else seemed not to know about them and not well marked so this app is important

Mon Dec 25 2017

One of the coolest hikes I've ever been on. My cousin and I had the whole trail and Geyser to ourselves after the falls as it started raining and scared everyone away. It was creepy not seeing humans for so long alone with the geyser and the beautiful geothermal creek leading up to it. Will never forget this one

Mon Oct 02 2017

This was a wonderful hike. The original starting point makes this a shorter hike, but my group started the trail on Grand Loop Road and the Fountain Flats drive, and made this a 9-10 mile hike in and out. It was quite busy when you got to the main trail to the falls, and there was rarely a moment where you were all alone. This isn't necessarily bad, as you can converse with your fellow travelers and assess how packed it will be at the falls. The falls was gorgeous and had a lot of water running off, with the local chipmunks and a raven hanging around while visitors moved in.

Mon Sep 25 2017

Super-easy trail that ends at a beautiful waterfall—or so you think. Continue a bit further past the falls, along the trail to the right, and you'll find yourself in Imperial Meadows. It's here where you can find both the Spray & Imperial geysers, nestled along a winding, rust-colored creek. It seems nobody ventures past Fairy Falls, as we had both of these majestic geysers completely to ourselves—it was far more enjoyable than dealing with the crowds at Grand Prismatic.

Mon Sep 18 2017

An easy hike to do. Starts out great with views of Grand Prismatic Spring from above on the newly constructed platform which is fairly crowded. Most people turn back at that point so the trail isn't real busy to Mystic Falls. It's a fairly uneventful walk to the falls, but the falls themselves are very cool with an almost 200 foot drop to a pool beneath. I took the trail to Imperial Geyser which was fun to see as it erupts pretty regularly. Overall a nice easy hike though fairly hot in July with little shade so bring water.

Sat Sep 09 2017

Favorite trail I hiked at Yellowstone!

Tue Aug 08 2017

Great views

Fri Aug 04 2017

It was a little hard to find since we had no cell service the mass majority of the time way. Consider downloading the map beforehand. If you keep hiking past the waterfall you get to see some awesome geysers! It is close to a 6 mile hike in and out.

Fri Aug 04 2017

Easy hike with nice waterfall. Trail was crowded first week of august

Fri Jun 16 2017

Wasn't able to do this hike because it was closed. Supposedly it's closed for most of the year. Would have liked to know that.

Wed Aug 17 2016

Mixed emotions on this review, the walk to the falls is actually pretty boring, a very flat walk through a forest that was burned out years ago, probably would have been much more fun when there was big pine trees to look up to, but right now there is nothing to keep your attention. plus it get hot cause while there is little shade, it's not the same as an old growth forest, the fall them-self are OK, but would not go to see them again. THE GOOD part of this trail is the chance to see Grand Prismatic Springs from above, you do have to Hike up a pretty steep hill to accomplish this! Very cool sight, only do the falls if you have extra time on your hands

Thu Feb 11 2016

make sure you go up the hill to see the grand prismatic spring.

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