Be prepared for stark white mud pots and strikingly colored pools at Artists Paintpots near Norris in Yellowstone National Park. This short trail leads to a loop that goes up and hillside and back down, circling a wonderful collection of hydrothermal features.
I’d been exploring all over Yellowstone throughout the day and this was my last stop. I pulled into the parking lot at Artist Paintpots in the Norris area as the sun was getting low in the sky. The nice thing about visiting busier areas like this in the afternoon is that they are much quieter, so you spend less time trying not to bump into people and more time admiring the features. The features here do not disappoint.
The first part of the trail was a level walk on a gravel trail through a hall of younger Lodgepole Pines. This broke out into some sections where some trees had sucked up too many minerals which clogged them up, making them not able to suck up nutrients and they died. A short distance and I was at the loop that goes up the hill, around all of the features. This is where it got good.
Stark white mud pots accented with pools of red, green, and aquamarine. Some bubbled, while others “blurped” as gas escaped the mud. Steam rose from pools and extreme colors laced through the whole hillside. The trail ducked into the trees and climbed up the hill a short ways, then traversed through large sections of white mud pots. This then led to bright crimson stream beds and an overlook of the whole area.
The golden glow of the evening made the whole place magical as steam roared out of a few vents and clear pools churned as I began to work my way down.
Overall, Artists Paintpots is a great example of what makes Yellowstone National Park unique and amazing. The wide variety of hydrothermal features and the extreme colors make this a memorable stop for the whole family.66