Mammoth Hot Springs Area Trail

EASY 160 reviews
#8 of 223 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 bird watching and is best used from April until October.

Distance: 3.5 miles Elevation Gain: 561 feet Route Type: Loop

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

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
no shade
21 days ago

Boardwalk with stairs, through one of the most amazing natural thermal features in the world. Closeup views of thermophilic bacteria and mineral terraces. Views of the canyon below. Kid friendly, and of course it’s crowded.

hiking
28 days ago

Good starting point if your coming in the North Entrance. But compared to other geothermal features in the park, it’s pretty bland.

hiking
1 month ago

We went in the evening yesterday starting a little before 7pm (still completely light in early June until after 9). It wasn’t crowded and there was little bits of snow falling. It was beautiful - never seen anything like it before! Easy trail as long as you are able to climb steps. Even if you cannot climb steps, you can still see some of it and it is worthwhile.

Very unique. Not really sure that you can see this kinda (stinky, hot) magic anywhere else.

hiking
1 month ago

Not really a trail in the traditional sense. The hot springs are nice, but way too ‘touristy’ and crowded for my taste.

hiking
1 month ago

Trail is almost completely covered in boardwalk so it's fairly easy. Many interesting geothermal features to see.

hiking
2 months ago

The boardwalk trail is awesome! Lots of different hot springs to see and a perfect, picturesque photo to end it. I recommend for anyone able to climb steps! If you are new to the area, drink LOTS of water and bring some with you to help with the altitude.

hiking
2 months ago

Great walk and nice view, great experience. It was the only trail open at Yellowstone National Park,we came in mid April.

7 months ago

Very cool to walk around here.

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike just always crowded.

9 months ago

Be careful on the road section. Some drivers aren’t considerate of walkers

10 months ago

interesting views exclusive to northern yellowstone. a little too tourist-y and crowded for my taste.

10 months 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
11 months ago

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

walking
11 months 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.

11 months 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
Sunday, July 15, 2018

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

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

walking
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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

Monday, July 02, 2018

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
Sunday, June 24, 2018

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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

walking
Monday, June 04, 2018

Place is amazing!

hiking
Friday, May 25, 2018

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!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

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

Friday, September 22, 2017

Lots to see here.

hiking
Tuesday, September 05, 2017

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.

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