Other than Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs may be the most popular place to visit in Yellowstone National Park.
Mammoth Hot Springs is kind of like a small town in the park, so it’s no wonder people like to visit. Here are 5 things to do while visiting Mammoth Hot Springs (which is best accessed from Gardiner, Montana).
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MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS
The Mammoth Hot Springs area really shows the volcanic forces that are at work underneath Yellowstone National Park. The Mammoth Hotel, as well as all of Fort Yellowstone, is built upon an old terrace formation known as Hotel Terrace. The area was created over thousands of years as hot water cooled and deposited calcium carbonate.
US-Parks.com explains it this way: “The Mammoth area exhibits a lot of evidence of glacial activity from the Pinedale Glaciation. The summit of Terrace Mountain is covered with glacial till, thereby dating the travertine formation to even earlier than the end of the Pinedale Glaciation.
Several thermal kames, including Capitol Hill and Dude Hill, are major features of the Mammoth Village area. Ice-marginal stream beds are in evidence in the small, narrow valleys where Floating Island Lake and Phantom Lake are found. In Gardner Canyon, one can see the old, sorted gravel bed of the Gardner River covered by unsorted glacial till.”
EXPLORE THE TOWN OF MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS
The Mammoth Village area itself is such a cute little setting. The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins is a sight to see as the big hotel seems to fit right in the national park.
Also be sure to stop at the Albright Visitor Center, as they have a nature display where you an learn about the animals inside the park as well as get good information on where to go and what to see during your visit.
The Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces are also a must see as the white limestone looks like a sculpture and is ever changing.
Another neat thing about the town is that you’ll find plenty of freshly mown grass there, which is a magnet for elk. It’s not uncommon for a herd of elk to be walking right through the middle of town.
Taking a soak in Boiling River is one of our 10 Unique Things To Do In Yellowstone.
This was one of our favorite things we did while in Yellowstone. Just north of the town of Mammoth you’ll find a trailhead for Boiling River. After a short walk you’ll get to the entry point of the river. At this point, there is a mix of the cold waters of the Gardiner River and the hot water from the hot spring. If you find the right spot, the temperature will be perfect!
A word of warning though, the river is fast! And the sorted gravel bed at the bottom of the river are not gentle on the feet. Be sure to wear shoes you can get completely wet (like Keens).
Since Mammoth is just 5 miles from the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park, take a drive out of the park and visit the small town of Gardiner, MT.
We really liked this quaint little town as it was full of fun restaurants and taverns all with a great view of the mountains in the park.
While in Gardiner, take a walk to the Roosevelt Arch and get a picture under this iconic archway that offers a welcome to the park almost as big as the park itself.
Just south of Mammoth Hot Springs is the trailhead for Bunsen Peak. If you’re looking for a really fun hike that has a great change of scenery through forest, up switchbacks and even the possibility of seeing snow, check out Bunsen Peak.
At 8,564 feet high and 4.6 miles roundtrip, you’ll get quite a workout making it up this mountain. At the top you’ll find an old weather station as well as notebook for all those brave souls who made it up the mountain to sign. We’re on there :).
Just a note, the National Park Service warns that grizzly bears frequent this area — so make sure you bring bear spray along with you.
Mammoth Hot Springs is a can’t miss when visiting Yellowstone National Park and these 5 things will make your visit memorable!
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS FAQ
When is the best time to visit Mammoth Hot Springs?
The site is open year round, but the road that allows you to visit the Upper Terraces is closed in the winter. In the winter, the trails are also not maintained. It’s better to visit the area in the spring, summer or fall.
Can you swim in Mammoth Hot Springs?
No swimming is allowed in any of the thermal features in Yellowstone National Park, including Mammoth Hot Springs, because it’s dangerous for visitors and could damage the resource. You *can* swim in Boiling River during certain times of year, though!
How long does it take to explore Mammoth Hot Springs?
It takes about 2 hours to explore Mammoth Hot Springs. You can walk the boardwalks, and see the springs, pools and travertine formations.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO MONTANA
- YOUR MONTANA VACATION
- GLAMPING YELLOWSTONE: 7+ Experiences You’ll Never Forget
- MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS: 8 Things You Don’t Want To Miss In Mammoth Hot Springs
- HOT SPRINGS: 21 Most Amazing Hot Springs Montana Has To Offer
- BIG SKY: 9 Awesome Things To Do In Big Sky Montana For Outdoor Lovers
WHERE TO STAY IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
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