As it goes in Yellowstone National Park, there are many thermal basins!
The Black Sand Basin can be a fun little thermal basin to walk around if you find yourself with extra time after a visit to the Old Faithful geyser.
There were 2 things in particular that made it fun, and as it also goes in Yellowstone National Park, these things are guaranteed!
1. The Black Sand Basin geyser
It’s also always exciting to see a geyser erupt in Yellowstone!
There is one geyser in Black Sand Basin, and that’s the Cliff Geyser.
This is a picturesque geyser, as it’s a geyser that erupts right alongside a creek!
Is there a Black Sand Basin geyser eruption prediction?
There are eruption predictions with specific timings for a few Yellowstone geysers, but the geyser in Black Sand Basin is not one of the them.
But in their March 2020 Black Sand Basin trail guide, the National Park Service says about the Black Sand Basin geyser that “it erupts every few minutes” and on their website as of late 2021 they say “the interval between cycles can be up to 35 minutes.”
So based on this description, it seems like you might have a good chance of seeing a geyser erupting in Black Sand Basin!
In addition to seeing the the Black Sand Basin geyser erupt, I did also see it quiet.
2. Buffalo in Black Sand Basin
Well, it’s always exciting to see a buffalo in Yellowstone!
When I arrived to the Black Sand Basin, there was a buffalo right near the Black Sand Basin trailhead.
Trail around Black Sand Basin
There is a boardwalk trail that goes around the Black Sand Basin to see thermal features in the area.
The Black Sand Basin trail is pretty short. It’s listed as 0.25 miles long.
👆 Black obsidian (volcanic glass) “sand” gives the Black Sand Basin its name. Now, I have been to many very black black sand beaches that are the result of more recent lava flows and volcano activity, so I have high expectations for black sand. 😜 I did not see sand that was all that black at the Black Sand Basin in Yellowstone National Park. But I guess there was some black sand around the thermal basin that has lost its color… and mixed in with other sediments.
And, when you see a boardwalk around a thermal basin in Yellowstone… stay on the boardwalk!
Thermal areas can be HOT and dangerous.
To be dramatic, people have been badly burned and even DIED by walking off-trail. If you step off the trail, the ground could break or sink underneath you when you least expect it.
Yellowstone is a supervolcano with tons of HOT activity going on underground!
The National Park Service calls the Yellowstone supervolcano a “restless giant.”
👆 The ground around the Black Sand Basin can be dangerous. There may be only a thin crust above boiling hot springs or scalding mud.
Also, it is said that coins (and other foreign objects that make their way into thermal pools) can contaminate the thermal pools.
Getting to the Black Sand Basin trailhead parking
Driving to the Black Sand Basin is easy enough.
There is a stretch of road along the western side of the Yellowstone Grand Loop Road that has a number of thermal basins.
The Black Sand Basin is one of these thermal basins.
The turn-off to the Black Sand Basin parking lot is located directly the Grand Loop Road.
It’s located right near Old Faithful. (map: Old Faithful to Black Sand Basin)
So the Black Sand Basin can be a relatively quick thermal basin to see near Old Faithful.
You’ll just look for the Black Sand Basin sign, and it’s a short road to the Black Sand Basin parking lot!
And then the Black Sand Basin trailhead is right there!
Black Sand Basin in the 50s in the evening
Weather in Yellowstone can make a difference in how the thermal features of Black Sand Basin look when you see it!
The air temperature was on the cooler side when I went, so there may be more steam in the pictures than if you visit when it’s warmer.
The sun’s lighting can also make a difference in what it looks like. Midday sun can bring out the colors of hot spring better than at sunset.
When I went it was nearing sunset, so similarly, you may see more vibrant colors if you go during the day compared to what you see in the pictures here!
For reference, my visit to the Black Sand Basin was in early October 2021 around 6pm. The outside temperature was in the 50s F at that time.
More below about what you can see with a quick walk around Black Sand Basin!
Things to see in Black Sand Basin
1. Opalescent Pool
The Opalescent Pool is located along side the road near the parking lot. This is something you can see before actually starting the Black Sand Basin trail.
Starting the Black Sand Basin trail!
2. Cliff Geyser
If the Cliff Geyser is erupting, it’s something you can see from the parking lot.
The trail also goes directly in front of the Cliff Geyser so you can get a closer look.
3. Green Spring
4. Iron Creek bridge
In addition to watching the water flowing along Iron Spring Creek, if the Cliff Geyser is erupting, you can get a different view of it from the bridge.
5. Rainbow Pool
6. Sunset Lake
👆 A small bubbling thermal spot along the side of the Black Sand Basin trail!
7. Emerald Pool
And then continuing back to the Black Sand Basin trailhead!
And that’s a bit about the Black Sand Basin in Yellowstone!
See more thermal basin trails in Yellowstone:
- Biscuit Basin trail (near Black Sand Basin)
- Trail to the Old Faithful Geyser overlook
- Trail to the Grand Prismatic Spring overlook
- Trail to a small geyser with frequent eruptions
- Trail to mudpots
- Trail to fumarole
Plan more of your trip to Yellowstone and beyond:
- How to spend one day in Yellowstone
- Grand Teton to Yellowstone
- One day in Grand Teton
- Driving through Grand Teton
- Yellowstone to Craters of the Moon
- Things to do in Craters of the Moon National Monument
HAPPY WALKING AROUND BLACK SAND BASIN!
See Yellowstone thermal areas in action on youtube!
- Geysers and hot springs: Yellowstone National Park videos