Artists’ Paintpots | Yellowstone

Artists’ Paintpots is a short lollipop hike in Yellowstone National Park. This hike features some really unique geothermal features that are rare, even in Yellowstone. The feature looks just like white paint bubbling along the trail. The hike is quite busy, but fortunately, the parking lot turns over quickly because the hike only runs 1 mile roundtrip.

This is a quick, but interesting hike.


The trailhead to Artists’ Paintpots has its own parking lot on the west side of the Grand Loop just south of Norris. There is a sign for the turnoff. You’ll find restrooms at the trailhead, but the parking lot is rather small. On our last trip, we waited about 5 minutes in a short line for parking to clear.


The Artists’ Paintpots trail starts out in the trees and runs along mostly level for the first few hundred yards. Eventually, you come to a split, and though traffic goes either way, most people travel the loop clockwise, so turn to the left. From the split, you can see the entirety of the looping trail, which travels up the hill in front of you and across the face before returning to your present location. Make sure to enjoy the small boiling pots that are here at the junction.

The first part of the trail begins along a boardwalk.
The trail is flat over to the lollipop part of the trail.
You will come to this sign. We recommend going clockwise, but either way is fine.
There are some hot springs and small geysers.
This little geyser was bubbling a ton and was also super steamy.
We liked this light blue pool.

It’s a bit steep, but short. For those who struggle with footing, Artists’ Paintpots is not a good idea, but the reward is a really beautiful geothermic feature. After passing a few fumeroles and vents, you come to the paint pots. They look exactly like boiling paint. We were mesmerized by the slow bubbles that rise to the surface and pop spectacularly. It’s amazing how thick the “paint” looks. We really enjoyed these boiling pools that we really haven’t seen anywhere else in Yellowstone.

Then the trail begins to climb up to the Artists’ Paintpots.
There is a small bridge to cross.
We enjoyed the views!
The Artists’ Paintpots are so unique. They are worth the stop..
It really looks just like paint is boiling. We watched the bubbles for awhile.

Eventually, you loop back around to the trail split, coming steeply down the hill. There are some beautiful blue pools as you come back to the trail back to the parking area. Whether it is your first trip to Yellowstone, or you have visited dozens of times like us, if you haven’t seen the Artists’ Paintpots, plan 30 minutes into your itinerary to stop and see this fun little geothermal feature.

We also liked these little pools on the way back down to the parking lot.

For other hikes that are kid friendly in Yellowstone, make sure to check out Yellowstone Kid Hikes. You learn more about Yellowstone’s geothermal features here.

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