Mammoth Hot Springs is the most popular site in the Mammoth Yellowstone area. The geological features in this area are quite different from the geysers and hot springs found elsewhere in Yellowstone National Park, even though it is fed by underground volcanic activity like the rest of the park. At Mammoth Hot Springs, hot underground water rises and deposits tons of dissolved limestone on the surface of the ground, forming chalky travertine terraces filled with steaming hot water. The springs at Mammoth Yellowstone are constantly changing, with new springs being formed and old ones dying, as well as a constant change in color due to the shifting nature of the springs. Don't miss the Boiling River nearby for one of only two opportunities to swim in thermally heated water at Yellowstone.
Liberty Cap is one of the most distinctive features at Mammoth Hot Springs. This 45-foot high cone was formed by a hot spring that deposited dense layers of travertine limestone around its mouth. Now Liberty Cap is an inactive spring, but visitors can view its cone, which supports a variety of lichens.
The most famous sight at Mammoth Hot Spring is the Minerva Terraces. These extensive travertine terraces are illuminated by shades of green, red, and orange, formed by bacteria in the water, which cools as it flows from terrace to terrace. If you're lucky, elk can sometimes be seen on the Minerva Terraces as well.
Other popular attractions in the area include Opal Spring, a hot spring known for its pastel colors, and Orange Spring Mound, a cone-shaped spring with a distinctive orange color due to bacteria that thrive in its somewhat cooler waters. You will also want to take a look at Highland Spring, whose travertine deposits have overflowed the hillside, engulfing trees that now stand as skeletons, and the yellow-fringed deep blue pool known as Canary Spring.
If you want to bathe in a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park, you should take the opportunity to do so in the Boiling River located close to Mammoth Hot Springs. Here underground hot water flowing from the hot springs join with the ice cold water of the Gardner River, making thermal spots that are perfect for soaking or swimming. Move around to find the right temperature for you, and keep in mind that the water at Boiling River is undrinkable. There are no lifeguards, so keep an eye on children. This area is popular in the summer and there are sometimes crowds who all want a turn in the pools.
You may also want to pay a visit to the red-roofed buildings of Fort Yellowstone. This Fort at Mammoth Yellowstone was built in the early days of Yellowstone National Park to enforce the conservation effort, and the Park Headquarters is also located here. Visitors can join a guided tour that explains some of the history of the Fort. You can also climb up nearby Bunsen Peak, a formerly volcanic mountain that has some of the best views of the surrounding area. The 2.1-mile trail begins at Mammoth Hot Springs.
At Mammoth Village there are opportunities to rest, eat, and peruse the visitors’ center. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel provides comfortable, but basic accommodation at reasonable prices. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Yellowstone and are interested in seeing some of the park’s most unusual geological sights, then this might be the perfect place for you.