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Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park

by Nagib Georges Araman

posted in Travel and Leisure

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Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the reasons people should spend not one but a couple of days or more at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Located adjacent to the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District, Mammoth's terraces go all the way to the hillside, and across the Parade Ground, and finally, down to Boling River.
The site is particularly unique from other hot springs, and is highly regarded for its otherworldly features. During winter, the boiling spring waters flow from white terraces and into pools that exhibit beautiful colors. The terraces of Mammoth were not created by nature overnight. Instead, they were formed over many centuries by underground water rising out of the surface. When this happens, this water dissolves large quantities of limestone rock, which then, produces the white chalky mineral (calcium carbonate deposit), we see today. This natural phenomenon, which has been going on for hundreds of years, created geological formations that look like one of Mother Nature's famous sculptural masterpieces.
One important thing to remember about the hot springs is that its water flow shifts rapidly. In some cases, the springs appears to have dried up, but this is quite normal. In fact, the rate of water flow and volume of water discharged, change on a daily basis. Make your way to the hot springs and explore its natural travertines. While doing so, watch for wildlife like elk, which usually hang out at the edge of the springs. Unfortunately, the water from these springs are too hot to handle, so make sure to avoid direct contact unless you want to get serious skin burns!
Aside from the natural hot springs, the Mammoth area has also a couple of additional attractions worth exploring. At the nearby Albright Visitor Center & Museum, you can learn more about Yellowstone history and the wide array of wildlife through various exhibits and displays. Another attraction you may want to consider exploring is Terrace Mountain, situated northwest of Golden Gate. This mountain has a summit covered with glacial till, as a result of glacial activity.
There is a decent selection of hotels and other types of accommodation near Mammoth Hot Springs. One of the closest and most established of them is the Mammoth Hotel. This building enjoys a distinct location as it is built on an old terrace structure called Hotel Terrace. The hotel is also close to Fort Yellowstone, which also stands on the same terrace.
The best way to reach the lower terraces is to hike through established and well-maintained trails. You can get closer to such terraces via the boardwalks set up at their base. Although most of the area has stairs and steep grades, there are some boardwalks that have been made wheelchair-accessible.
As for the Upper Terrace section, you can reach it by driving through the Grand Loop Road, south of the Albright Visitor Center. Officially called the Upper Terrace Drive, this very scenic road is about 2 (3.2 kilometers) miles from the center, and it stretches for 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) going pass travertine formations and the hot springs. Take note that big vehicles like buses and trailers are not allowed on the drive because it is a narrow winding roadway with limited parking spaces.
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