During our first trip to Yellowstone National Park, we walked on the Grand Prismatic Spring Boardwalk and were blown away by the beauty. But then I found out that there is a semi-secret Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook if you take a short hike from the parking lot to Fairy Falls. The Grand Prismatic Spring hike and overlook is the best way to get beautiful photos of the whole Grand Prismatic.
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Grand Prismatic Overlook
I’ve learned very quickly that the term accessibility means different things to different travelers. When you or your party does not have a disability, accessibility might mean being able to get to a destination with ease.
For my family, it means being able to navigate while using mobility devices including a transport chair, cane, or walker. When I was reading about how Yellowstone National Parked opened an accessible trail to see the Grand Prismatic, I was more than excited to go and explore the trailhead.
According to a Facebook comment from the Park, I was told that it was handicap accessible, but after the experience, I would suggest not to attempt to do this hike until you read the full review. If you are in good health, this is the perfect small hike for you!
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Hiking Fairy Falls With Determination
One thing you will learn from The Plaid Shirt Family and our hikes is that we are determined. The first time we vacationed in Yellowstone, Mom had just finished with an infusion, and we brought her on a whirlwind 9-day vacation across the MidWest.
In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea we’ve ever had, but with limited vacation times, we made the best of the vacation. Lots of road trips and short naps helped us get through our grueling itinerary. Also, the ability to flex our plans and schedule helped us out too.
During that first trip, we saw the Grand Prismatic up close, but I was dying to see the entire Grand Prismatic and didn’t know how to do it! That is until I found out about the Fair Falls hike with the Grand Prismatic overlook.
Seeing the Grand Prismatic Boardwalk
The Grand Prismatic is enormous. According to Yellowstonepark.com Grand Prismatic is deeper than a ten story building, larger than a football field, and has a rainbow of colors that are made up of bacteria. Getting up close to Grand Prismatic is one of the easiest and most popular ways to view the hot spring.
Mind you, just because the hot spring is surrounding by flat boardwalks, doesn’t mean that it is easy to climb or push someone up the ramps. If you are going to visit this hot spring, make sure to bring water with you and stay for a while, because the upward climb is a feat, but the view is spectacular.
I have to admit. I talked about Grand Prismatic almost the entire trip to Yellowstone. I was so excited to see all of the colors. What I didn’t realize is that you need to hike up on a hill to see the enormous size and color spectrum.
Hiking Fairy Falls to see Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook
I started off the trail very determined to see Fairy Falls and Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook. Warning, we only had enough steam to see the Grand Prismatic Spring. Our hike was done on a crisp October day where there was leftover snow and packed ice on the trail.
To start off the to hike, we parked at the Fairy Falls parking lot, where there is insufficient parking. If you are not doing this during shoulder season, you need to get up super early to make sure you have a spot to ditch your car while you hike in nature.
After the parking lot, there is a small bridge that you will need to cross to get to the trail. This bridge crosses over Firehole River. The gravel path wasn’t the easiest thing to hike on with a wheelchair because sometimes we would run into some rocks and bigger gravel on the trail.
Overlooking the Grand Prismatic
We hiked until we saw the turn off up a hill to see the overlook. Many people gave us strange looks because we were hiking with a wheelchair (I read it was accessible don’t judge me!) and they told us there was a bit of snow (umm I’m from the south there was a lot of snow and ice).
We tried as hard as we could to bring mom up the trail, but when we saw that it mostly iced all the way up, we turned back around and allowed her to sit in a spot where she could see the spring (kind of) and talked to everyone going up and down the trail. Mom made a couple of friends who also decided they couldn’t make the hike, and they all just sat and talked while the daredevils hiked to the overlook.
With the trail being mostly in the shade, the snow was very slick and compact. Being the true southerners that we are, Ally and I had a hard time climbing up in the snow. Luckily we brought our Ugg Snow Boots, but when we saw someone in Vans slide all the way down the mountain, we knew we were in trouble.
The Grand Prismatic Overlook in Yellowstone National Park
Finally getting to the overlook, we climbed a few stairs and had a breathtaking view of The Grand Prismatic. I knew the hot spring was enormous, but I had no idea how large the hot spring was from up above. Ally and I stayed up at the top for a while, taking photos of the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. After spending time, we made our way down the slippery icy slope, which took twice as long.
About a fourth of the way through the hike, Ally decided that she was too nervous with the slick ice, so she hiked all the way down on her bottom. We did get a lot of laughs and from other hikers who gave us the advice to make sure our boots had tread on them (they did). Our response? We are southerners, and we do not know how to deal with this snow!
Hiking to Grand Prismatic with Mobility Devices
Unfortunately, I would not suggest trying to hike up the hill to Grand Prismatic. Even though it only climbs up 105 feet over a half mile, it is steep if you have any issues walking.
After our exciting journey up the hill, we decided it was time to go back to the car and have a lovely picnic before going to the Grand Tetons for some Moose photography. With mom hanging out while we hiked, we got a great tip on how to find Moose in the Grand Tetons. If you are looking for an easier hike, check out My Hike to Morning Glory.
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