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Mammoth Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park

Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine terraces in Yellowstone National Park.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.9 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview :  Limestone is the dominant underlying rock here instead of rhyolite, which is dominant in the park's other major hydrothermal areas.

... more »

Tips:  Hydrothermal features are fragile rarities of nature. Yellowstone preserves the largest collection of hydrothermal features on the... more »

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Points of Interest

1. New Blue Spring

Main Terrace

You can view this large terrace and its colorful springs from several vantage points. To your left, follow the boardwalk to an overlook of New Blue Spring. One of the best examples of the area's dynamic character, New Blue Spring shifts activity frequently and can become active or inactive several times in one year.

2. Cupid Spring

An overlook leads to a view of the entire Main Terrace; at the far right you can see Canary Spring. At the beginning of the trail to Canary Spring, a short spur trail takes you to a view of Cupid Spring, which has resumed activity recently. Continue on the trail to benches where you can relax and watch the waters and colors of Main Terrace. (This ... More

3. Grassy Spring

4. Trail Springs

5. Dryad Springs

6. Canary Spring

You will likely find flowing hot water, new travertine formations, and shade as you walk alongside Canary Spring. Imagine you were here in the late 1800s, a time when yellow filamentous bacteria was prominent. Today, the spring exhibits the orange, brown, and green seen in other hot springs of the area. See the map for the location of the... More

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7. Prospect Spring

This spring was active next to the road in the mid-1990s. In the mid-2000s, activity shifted toward the trees. And it may have shifted again by the time you visit.

8. Highland Terrace

9. New Highland Terrace

Tree skeletons stand as monuments to a landscape created in the 1950s. This area has been inactive since the 1980s. Perhaps future visitors will see New Highland rejuvenated.

Temperature 160°F The Highland Terrace area received its name from A.C. Peale, geologist for the 1872 Hayden Expedition. There are many springs and pools in the Highland... More

10. Orange Spring Mound

This spring flows from several vents from its top and side. Its striking colors come from the thermophiles living in the hot water.

Temperature 157°F Mound dimensions 48x20 feet. Orange cyanobacteria which streak the large travertine mound are the origin of the name. The spring from this mound is cooler than other thermal features at Mammoth ... More

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11. Bath Lake

Bath Lake was a popular swimming hole until it dried up in 1926. It filled again after the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake and remained a lake through the 1970s. By then bathing in hydrothermal features was illegal because it destroys fragile formations and changes their activity.

12. White Elephant Back Terrace

Water laden with calcium carbonate has flowed from a fissure to build this ridge, which an early tour guide thought resembled the back of an elephant. Activity constantly shifts here.

13. Angel Terrace

The dramatic presence of this feature comes from abundant water, white formations, and colorful thermophiles that thrive in hot water. Angel Terrace was dry and crumbling for decades, but resumed activity in 1985. Some of the other dormant features you have seen on this drive may one day flow again too.

14. Opal Terrace

Look for this terrace across the road from the main trails—it plays an unusual role in Mammoth. In 1926, Opal began depositing up to one foot (0.3 m) of travertine per year. Its periodic growth threatens the historic house next door, which was designed by Robert Reamer and built in 1908 as an example of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style... More

15. Liberty Cap

Across the road from Opal Terrace stands the 37-foot (11 m) Liberty Cap, which was created by a hot spring that was active in one location for a long time. Its internal pressure was sufficient to raise the water to a great height, allowing mineral deposits to build slowly and continuously for perhaps hundreds of years.

Liberty Cap was named in... More

16. Devil's Thumb

17. Palette Spring

Water flows in crisscrossing patterns down a steep ridge where colorful thermophiles create a changing palette dominated by hues of orange and brown. This effect is much the same as an artist would achieve by allowing watercolors to run down a vertical surface.

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18. Minerva Terrace

Activity shifts dramatically around this terrace. The cascades of travertine beside the boardwalks were formed in the 1990s. Some years, they are dry. Whatever its level of activity, you can see why Minerva Terrace was named for the Roman goddess of artists and sculptors. Its ornate travertine formations create the look of layer cakes and... More

19. Cleopatra Terrace

Due to confusion related to the intermittent nature of many of the springs in the Mammoth Area, the name Cleopatra Spring has been given to at least three different springs over the years. As the confusion developed the original Cleopatra Spring came to be called Minerva Spring

20. Mound Terrace

These terraces display cycles of activity typical of Mammoth Hot Springs. In 1937, Mound Terrace was called "the most beautifully colored spring." Inactive for decades, its weathered travertine shows new patterns where chunks of the soft rock have broken or fallen. Recently, Mound Terrace began flowing again.

21. Jupiter Terrace

Jupiter Terrace displays cycles of activity. In the 1980s Jupiter Terrace flowed so heavily that it overtook boardwalks several times. It has been dry since 1992, but when active, its color and intricate terraces make Jupiter an appealing spring.

22. Reservoir Springs