Artists Paint Pots is a colorful Yellowstone Park attraction. It consists of more than fifty mud pots, springs, geysers and vents. The mud pots range in color from shades of blue to gray and brown. The colors are caused by thermophiles (thermo=heat, phile=love), bacteria that thrive in high temperatures. Ribbons of color can be seen where certain species grow separate from others. Thermophiles are thought to be some of the oldest living species on earth. Some use sulfur where other organisms use oxygen to survive on; leading to the hypothesis that they lived before Earth’s atmosphere became oxygen-rich.
Artists Paint Pots are available for viewing along an easy one-mile, new trail cut in 2004. The old trail use to begin near the main loop road, but was often flooded. The new trailhead supplies tourists more parking area. The trailhead is 4.4 miles south of Norris on the Norris-Madison road. The beginning of the trail is a boardwalk, which continues as a dirt path going through a lodge pole pine forest, with a gentle slope upward toward the paint pots and other thermal features. With luck you might get to see a small geyser erupt or the paint pots spurt mud.