Mammoth Hot Springs is a beautiful place to visit while you are in Yellowstone National Park. It is a little bit out of the way to the north, but don’t let that deter you! Make the drive up there and enjoy it all.
While you are there be sure to Visit the Albright Visitor Center (originally quarters for single Army officers) and Tour Historic Fort Yellowstone. There is also a lot of wildlife in this area, especially on the grass around the buildings. It is so beautiful!
We came in from the east side of Yellowstone, so our first stop included Liberty Cap (a dormant hot springs cone), Devil’s Thumb, and Palette Spring.
There are several stops in the Mammoth Hot Springs area, places to eat, stay and a lot of trails. You can spend a lot of time here, or do what we did and just hit the most popular trails and only spend a couple of hours. It is a beautiful place and I would love to go back and spend more time there on our next trip.
Next we drove up to the Main Terrace and hiked the loop to the Overlook and Cleopatra Terrace.
We hiked around the upper and lower terraces and checked out all of the main viewpoints. After that, we drove the Upper Terrace Drive loop. This was really beautiful and we saw a lot of wildlife.
Here is a picture of the map from when we were there in 2016. I hope it helps you plan a little more of your adventure in Mammoth Hot Springs.
About Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces
As one early visitor described the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces, “No human architect ever designed such intricate fountains as these. The water trickles over the edges from one to another, blending them together with the effect of a frozen waterfall.” The hot springs were an early commercialized attraction for those seeking relief from ailments in the mineral waters.
Mammoth Hot Springs are a surface expression of the deep volcanic forces at work in Yellowstone. Although these springs lie outside the caldera boundary, scientists surmise that the heat from the hot springs comes from the same magmatic system that fuels other Yellowstone thermal areas. A large fault system runs between Norris Geyser Basin and Mammoth, which may allow thermal water to flow between the two. Also, multiple basalt eruptions have occurred in this area. Thus, basalt may be a heat source for the Mammoth area.
Thermal activity here is extensive and has been present for several thousand years. Terrace Mountain, northwest of Golden Gate, has a thick cap of travertine. The Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces extend all the way from the hillside where we see them today, across the historic Parade Ground, and down to Boiling River. The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, as well as all of Fort Yellowstone, is built upon an old terrace formation known as Hotel Terrace. There was some concern when construction began in 1891 on the fort site that the hollow ground would not support the weight of the buildings. Currently, there are several large sinkholes (fenced off) can be seen on the historic Fort Yellowstone Parade Ground.
You can learn more about Mammoth Hot Springs on the NPS website here