Mammoth Hot Springs, like other areas in Yellowstone, is in a state of constant change. It’s estimated that calcium carbonate deposits that make up Mammoth build up to 2 feet per year in some spots. This means that the boardwalk routes around and views change constantly from year to year.
Part of the lure of the Mammoth Springs is the historical area surrounding it. We spent some time driving around the ‘town center’ checking out the Mammoth Hotel, the former Fort Yellowstone, and the Albright Visitor center. If you go to the Hot Springs, take 15 minutes to drive up the Northern entrance and check out the Roosevelt Arch landmark….and keep your eyes on the cliffs for a bighorn sheep.
Note: We saw a gray wolf on the hill just outside of the ‘town’ area and dozens of elk from Mammoth to the North entrance!
As you walk the boardwalk around Mammoth, it’s like exploring an inside-out cave. You’ll see stalactites and other wild travertine (calcium carbonate) shapes.
As the springs continue to flow, the shapes, terraces, and forms continue to take evolve. There’s also a nice short drive that you can take (one way) that goes around the upper terrace and takes you through Prospect Spring, New Highland Terrace, Orange Spring Mound, Bath Lake, White Elephant Back Terrace, and Angel Terrace.
You can also view the nearby 37 foot high extinct hot spring, Liberty Cap (named after the French revolution cap), which is close to the vistor parking as you walk up to the Mammoth boardwalk.
Unlike the geyser and hot spring areas that are in other areas of the park, the Mammoth walking involves quite a few hills and stairs. Nothing too strenuous, but not the flat boardwalks that you might find in the West Thumb Geyser Basin.
Mammoth Hot Springs and its surrounding north entrance part of the park are a must-see for any multi-day trip to Yellowstone. In addition to the what has to be the world’s largest antacid tablet and witnessing its continued growth, you are also very likely to sees Elk…and if you’re lucky…a bighorn sheep and wolf!