Mammoth Hot Springs Area Trail

EASY 141 reviews
#7 of 206 trails in

Mammoth Hot Springs Area Trail is a 3.5 mile heavily 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
3.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
561 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.

1 day ago

Mammoth Hot Springs are definitely interesting and worth a look; the low rating is largely driven by the absurdity of including the upper terrace as a "trail" when it is nothing but a road just wide enough for cars. Do NOT hike the upper terrace; if you wish to see those features, do that loop by car as the Parks Service clearly intends. The lower terrace has a series of pedestrian boardwalks and stairs that facilitate an interesting walkabout to view the beautiful travertine formations around the hot springs. There are a couple of placards describing the basic process by which these types of features formed, but there is almost no information provided as to what explains their various names and histories. Bottom line: this is an easy stop that is a worthwhile roadside attraction but is not a "trail" or a "hike" per se, and All Trails should know better than to mark a narrow car-only road (upper terrace) as a "trail."

hiking
8 days ago

A interesting place. Different from other places in Yellowstone. One of my favorite.

walking
10 days ago

Pretty stunning to see up close. Great views. Then onto Fort Yellowstone which was also interesting. Lots of people but it is what it is. Ran into a lot of road construction which was frustrating.

22 days ago

We drove around the upper terrace, jumping out at a few spots, then hiked the lower loop. So amazingly beautiful and like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Apparently this backdrop was used as Spock’s home of Vulcan in one of the Star Trek movies. This was our second day of exploring in Yellowstone. Take time to read all the signs and pay up to take a trail map at each area to get the most out of your visit.

walking
1 month ago

Amazingly beautiful nature! We enjoyed slowly meandering to take photographs.

1 month ago

easy walk but busy.. did this after bunsen peak so good cool down!

walking
1 month ago

Easy and fun boardwalk. The canary spring is pretty amazing to see up close.

1 month ago

Very interesting to see the hot springs, but too crowded (hundreds of people) for our taste. I’d go on a weekday in the off season, at the end of the day if you are wanting to avoid crowds.

walking
1 month ago

The boardwalks were nice. I liked that we could exit when needed. Saw a snake next to boardwalk. Several parking areas.

1 month ago

this was 3.5 miles? I must have missed a lot. It's def worth checking out!

walking
2 months ago

Place is amazing!

hiking
2 months ago

Mammoth Hot Springs is amazing. Everyone says it is out of this worldish and it really is. I will never forget our trip to Yellowstone. Be sure to do whatever you have to do to make it through both grand loops. We bought an ice chest and picnicked every day and used the app "Gypsy Guide" for Yellowstone and Tetons. Didn't miss a thing!

8 months ago

Not very busy on Black Friday. Was very icy in some areas, but enjoyable on a beautiful sunny day!

10 months ago

Lots to see here.

hiking
11 months ago

Great boardwalk. What a great site. A must-do when coming to Yellowstone

hiking
Monday, August 14, 2017

Definitely the best hot springs in Yellowstone, but to crowded.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

loved the terraces in the late afternoon light. very crowded still at 5pm.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

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.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Easy boardwalk stroll to see many interesting hot springs. VERY crowded which always makes a nice walk a bit frustrating, but really is a must see when in the Mammoth area. The waypoint descriptions on AllTrails makes it much more enjoyable and educational since there is very little info (if any) posted about each hot spring along the trail.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Nice trail. To do

hiking
Saturday, May 13, 2017

Very nice but hopelessly overrun...

walking
Thursday, April 13, 2017

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
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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
Thursday, August 18, 2016

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.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

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...

walking
Friday, August 12, 2016

Different scenery and a close up look of the hot springs. Buffalo were roaming around the area when I did this trail. Something to see!

walking
Tuesday, August 09, 2016

A good walk, lots of scenery but lots of people

hiking
Friday, August 05, 2016

One of my favorites in Yellowstone especially canary spring

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Went here with family years ago and loved it! Could spend so much time admiring the hot springs! So beautiful and so unique!

hiking
Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Did this trail yesterday. Beautiful and the kids loved running up and down the stairs. Yellowstone is great in winter as you don't have to fight the crowds.

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