Explore the Limestone Terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs

The travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park are really a unique sight. There’s a large array of hot springs that were created over thousands of years as hot water from the spring cooled and deposited calcium carbonate giving it a snow-like appearance. It was worth the long drive to the north of the park to take in these unique formations.

Getting there

Mammoth Hot Springs is located in the far north part of the park. Map yourself to Liberty Cap and there are several parking areas here.

Liberty Cap, a hot spring cone

Liberty Cap, a hot spring cone

The Hike

There is a wood plank boardwalk that’s 1.75 miles with 300 feet of elevation. It should take about an hour to complete the trail, depending on how often you stop to take in the sights.

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About

Some describe Mammoth Hot Springs as looking like an inside out cave. The formations happen here from thermal activity, hot water being heated and cooled among the limestone, created crystallized calcium carbonate (the white stuff you see). The other colors are of red, orange, brown and green are from algae.

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We visited on a dark day with a lot rain clouds, adding to the drama of the landscape. Luckily we got to enjoy the cool weather, but only got sprinkled on.

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In the image below, you can see how the calcium carbonate looks a lot like snow. When these minerals accumulate over time it kills the trees around them.

Angel Terrace

Angel Terrace

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Mammoth Hot Springs is a must see when visiting Yellowstone National Park. If you prefer not to make the drive there and back in one day you can always spend some nights in the lower section of the park, then move to the upper, or vise versa. This region has a lodge, several camp sites , restaurants, and stores.

Have any other tips or info for visiting this site? Please leave them in the comments below.


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