Tour the spectacular geothermal features of Mammoth Hot Springs on this 1.7-mile hike past hot springs, thermal pools and terrace structures. Although Yellowstone National Park is home to half the world’s known geothermal features and has the world’s largest concentration of geysers, Mammoth Hot Springs is especially unique. The water in this area ascends through ancient limestone deposits rather than the lava flows common in other parts of the park. The result: A wonderland of otherworldly-looking features unique to Yellowstone National Park.
Starting from the Mammoth Terraces Boardwalk, head north for 0.4 mile before reaching the constantly-changing Main Terrace. This feature is characterized by eerily-stunted trees, countless travertine cascades, and clouds of steamy vapors filtering the view of Mount Everts in the background.
Next, pass New Blue Spring, Cleopatra Terrace, and Palette Springs as you continue your boardwalk loop. Vividly colored by the heat-loving bacteria living in and around them, these features serve as appetizers for one of Mammoth’s most popular attractions, the multi-tiered Minerva Terrace. Plunging down 30 feet of intricate travertine steps, this feature is constantly growing, thanks to the 500 gallons of mineral-rich water that flows from it each minute.
Continuing your loop, you’ll pass the Mound Terrace—another magnificent structure—as you head toward the hike’s grand finale: a breathtaking vista of the Main Terrace spilling over the edge of a plateau with views of the Gardner River Canyon and Snow Mountains in the distance. Spend some time here and take in the scene before heading back to Waypoint 11 and turning left to return to the trailhead.
MORE PARK INFO: Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-7381; nps.gov/yell/.
-Mapped by Jeff Chow