Ask well-traveled Americans in the United States what their favorite national park is, and many will answer Yellowstone National Park. In many ways, Yellowstone is the hydrothermal capital of the world. It boasts more geysers than the rest of the world combined. The hotspot under the earth's mantle under Yellowstone gives rise to so many hot springs and various hydrothermal features so as to make the area other-worldly.

But not only that, but Yellowstone is also a wildlife hotspot and is the best place in the Lower 48 for seeing iconic North American wildlife like gray wolves, grizzly bears, and bison. Two of the park's most famous hydrothermal attractions are the Old Faithful Geyser (the most famous geyser in the world) and the travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.


Why The Mammoth Hot Springs' Terraces Are Unique

"No human architect ever designed such intricate fountains as these. The water trickles over the edges from one to another, blending them together with the effect of a frozen waterfall."

- Early Visitor Quoted By The NPS

Mammoth Hot Springs is a stunning complex hill of travertine in Yellowstone National Park - one will have to decide for oneself which is more impressive, these or the world-famous and Instagrammable travertine springs of Pamukkale in Turkey.

The travertine hills of the Mammoth Hot Springs have been created over thousands of years as hot water laden with calcium carbonate has flowed over them.

It is incredible to think that over two tons of calcium carbonate flow into Mammoth every day dissolved in water. The water is superheated underground but cools as it comes to the surface. By the time it reaches the surface it is around 170 °F (80 °C). There are algae and extremophiles living in the warm pools that tint the travertine terraces into shades of brown, orange, red, and green.

The travertine pools have been formed over a long period of time. It is the largest known carbonate-depositing spring in the world.

  • Most Famous Feature: The Minerva Terrace - Series of Travertine Terraces

​​​​Visiting The Mammoth Hot Springs

The Mammoth Hot Springs are located next to the Fort Yellowstone and the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District within the National Park. One just needs to pay the entrance fee to the park to access them.

The astute will notice that the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces change constantly—sometimes the changes are noticeable within a day.

There are boardwalks built along the springs so that visitors can access them without damaging them. The boardwalks cover around 1.75 miles of the Upper and Lower Terraces and the walking is easy going with only around 300 feet of elevation gain. The walk takes around an hour.

  • Boardwalk: Takes around An Hour And Is An Easy Walk

Visitors can walk above the steaming hydrothermal features - or they take a drive around the terraces. Come in the winter, and much of Yellowstone is inaccessible. But come to the Mammoth Hot Springs and ski or snowshoe among the whiffs of sulfur along the Upper Terraces.

The Mammoth Hot Springs is located just south of the North Entrance to the National Park and is accessible year-round.

  • Access: The Lower Boardwalk Can Be Accessed From The Parking Lot or Grand Loop Road
  • Liberty Cap: One Of The Most Well Know Features of The Lower Terraces
  • Minerva Spring: Went Dry in the Early 1900s but Starting Flowing Again By 1951
  • Terraces: Include The Upper Terraces, Lower Terraces, Angel Terrace, Orange Spring Mound

Related: This Remote Yellowstone Geyser Is As Impressive As Old Faithful

The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins

Just next to the Mammoth Hot Springs is the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins. They are open in both summer and winter, the hotel has also been recently renovated and provides a warm welcome.

The oldest part of the hotel was built in 1911 while the rest of it was constructed in 1936. It is famous not only for its idyllic location but also for its Map Room which contains a large wooden map of the United States. The wooden map of made out of 15 different types of wood gathered from nine different countries.

  • Open: Summer and Winter
  • Built: 1911, Extended 1936 To Its Present From
  • See: The Wooden Map Of The World

After admiring the famous Mammoth Hot Springs, kick back at the hotel and spot elk grazing gracefully outside the hotel.

If one is coming in the winter, then take advantage of the daily guided tours to favorite spots in the National Park like Lamar Valley, Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon, Old Faithful, and more.

The cabin offers a full range of luxury accommodation options and is a great option for those looking for the ideal accommodation inside the park.

Next: How To Plan A Visit Around Yellowstone's Wildlife Mating, Migration Patterns, and More