Mammoth Hot Springs is a unique geothermal site located in Yellowstone National Park and is home to the highest number of hot terraces in the world. Mammoth Hot Springs is 20 mins drive from the north entrance of National Park was our first stop in Yellowstone journey.
Gazing at Hot Springs, I was wondering how on earth does such a place even exist and what caused to the formation of this dramatic sight. Turns out rainwater and snow trickle into these rocks and once they reach a certain depth, they are heated by boiling magma. Here, it interacts with hot gases charged with carbon dioxide rising from the magma chamber. As some of the carbon dioxides are dissolved in the hot water, a weak, carbonic acid solution is formed. When it’s exposed to the air, some of the carbon dioxides escapes from the solution and dissolved limestone can’t remain in the solution, so it mends into a solid mineral. This white chalky mineral is deposited as the travertine that forms the terraces.
Mammoth Hot Springs has approximately 50 hot springs within the area and is divided into two terraces, upper and lower. Both the areas have their unique formations which are uniquely different from each other. We stopped at Lower Terrace area and right in front of parking, you can see liberty cap rising 37 feet in the air. The cone shape formed when the hot spring’s plumbing system had a continuous flow for perhaps hundreds of years. Over that time, the internal pressure was high enough to push the water to a great height, allowing the mineral deposits to build up.
In the backdrop of Liberty Cap, you see Devils thumb and Palette Springs which is the highlight of Lower Basin Area any rock that you see in the area is a result of geothermal activities.
As you walk a little you reach Mammoth Lower Terrace Area flow from this pool is what forms the amazing Palette Spring and Devils Thumb.
You can explore the entire hot springs on foot or you can even drive the Upper Terrace Area via Upper Terrace Loop drive what a name for the drive isn’t it :D. Drive was closed when we visited so we parked nearby to explore Upper Terrace Area. Thankfully we bought our jackets with us as in just a matter of 15 mins the weather changed from sunny and clam to super windy and it started to rain. I am never going to count on the weather forecast for national Parks.
There are so many springs and overlook points in the area I got so confused about where to go and what to do. You can spend an entire day in this area if you want. The main attraction of Upper Terrace Area is Canary Springs and is most likely the best viewing of the Mammoth Spring area. The elevated vista of the springs and the valley below. Canary Spring also changes its colour, it is mostly a reddish tinge but if you are lucky you can see blue and green colours as well.
Mammoth hot springs is also a photographers paradise it feels as if you are in a different world altogether. It is indeed fascinating to see all of the geological features this area has on display. This is a must-visit on a trip to Yellowstone.