Mammoth Hot Springs Area Trail

EASY 68 reviews
#7 of 183 trails in

Mammoth Hot Springs Area Trail is a 3.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until October.

DISTANCE
3.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
623 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

hot springs

views

waterfall

wildlife

no dogs

Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine terraces in Yellowstone National Park. Limestone is the dominant underlying rock here instead of rhyolite, which is dominant in the park's other major hydrothermal areas. This area is one of the world's best examples of travertine-depositing hot springs. It's also one of the park's most dynamic hydrothermal areas - its features constantly change. Inactive terraces underlie most of this area, including the hotel and Albright Visitor Center. Maximum water temperature is 163ºF/73ºC. For hundreds of years, Shoshone and Bannock people collected minerals from Mammoth Hot Springs for white paint. These minerals contribute to the beautiful terrace structures, along with heat, a natural "plumbing" system, water, and limestone. The volcanic heat source for Mammoth Hot Springs remains somewhat of a mystery. Scientists have proposed a number of sources, including the large magma chamber underlying the Yellowstone Caldera, or perhaps a smaller heat source closer to Mammoth. At Mammoth, a network of fractures and fissures form the plumbing system that allows hot water from underground to reach the surface. The water comes from rain and snow falling on the surrounding mountains and seeping deep into the earth where it is heated. Small earthquakes may keep the plumbing open. Limestone, deposited here millions of years ago when a vast sea covered this area, provides the final ingredient. Hot water with dissolved carbon dioxide makes a solution of weak carbonic acid. As the solution rises through rock, it dissolves calcium carbonate, the primary compound in limestone. At the surface, the calcium carbonate is deposited in the form of travertine, the rock that forms the terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs. Primal Colors: Thermophiles (heat-loving microorganisms) create tapestries of color where hot water flows among the terraces. Colorless and yellow thermophiles grow in the hottest water; orange, brown, and green thermophiles thrive in cooler waters. Colors also change with the seasons. Living Sculpture: These terraces are like living sculptures, shaped by the volume of water, the slope of the ground, and objects in the water's path. They change constantly, and sometimes overnight-but the overall activity of the entire area and the volume of water discharge remain relatively constant. Here, as in few other places on earth, rock forms before your eyes. Lower Terraces: You can reach these terraces from boardwalks at their base or from Upper Terrace Drive. Some sections of boardwalk are wheelchair-accessible; the rest of the area has stairs or steep grades due to the terrain. Upper Terrace Drive: The entrance to the Upper Terrace Drive is two miles (3.2 km) south of the Albright Visitor Center on the Grand Loop Road. This one-way scenic drive winds for 1.5 miles (2.4 km) among hot springs and travertine formations. Trailers, buses, and motor homes are prohibited on the drive due to limited parking and a narrow, winding roadway. Park these vehicles in the lot beside the Grand Loop Road, then enjoy the Upper Terraces on foot. Please stay on the road and boardwalks.

hiking
10 hours ago

Unique views of hot springs. Can't see things like this anywhere else. Would be 5 stars but too crowded and backtracking instead of looping is necessary in many areas.

10 days ago

Nice trail. To do

hiking
10 days ago

19 days ago

26 days ago

scenic driving
28 days ago

1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Very nice but hopelessly overrun...

1 month ago

2 months ago

walking
2 months ago

Mammoth hot springs is pretty crazy. Makes you wonder what's below you when you walk around here. Pretty active area. I have walked many sections of this area, but not all at once. The road allows for many places to stop and take a short jaunt to check things out. Definitely a spot one must see when here

hiking
4 months ago

On an overcast day, we did the amazing boardwalk loop and saw elk at the visitor center. The best view is from the top of the steps on the right, where you are up close and personal as the cascade of oozing seeping rock-forming liquid pours over the cliff face, creating more interesting formations. The thermal and geological features of this park are absolutely surreal. Enjoy!

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

walking
9 months ago

9 months ago

walking
9 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

Such a cool geological area! Family friendly, but very crowded with tourists. You can see some of these from the car, but best to see on foot.

10 months ago

I guess you can say this is one of those "must do's" but it's not as beautiful as I remember it as when I was younger, (due to lots of the spring that seemed to have dried up) you can do as much or as little as you want, Go once if you never been too...