About Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs, which sports the world's largest travertine terraces in the world, stretches for about a mile across a mountainside near the northern boundary of Yellowstone. Water, heated underground by coming into proximity with the partially molten magma chamber, carries dissolved limestone (calcium carbonate) to the surface which it flows into ponds rimmed by stone. As the water flows over the edge of the pond, the water cools, causing the limestone to be deposited on the pool's rim. With deposits a foot thick being possible in a single year, and a history reaching back thousands of years, the display found today is truly spectacular.
As the pools grow higher, the water constantly seeks easier routes to the surface, and many features go inactive for a time, and water springs up in a new spot. Thus the features are constantly changing. In the fall the springs begin to dry up and take on a white chalky appearance. In the spring, algae and bacteria thrive in the warm water, giving brilliant colors to the stone.
The springs are divided into two areas, the upper and lower terraces. The lower terraces are accessible by a network of boardwalks, while Terrace Drive loops through the sparser features of the upper terrace area. The entire length of the terrace drive is available on UntraveledRoad, being photographed in late summer when many features were drying up.
Yellowstone's park headquarters were established next to Mammoth Hot Springs, along with a small town, providing accomodations for visitors.
Mammoth Terrace Drive
White Elephant Back Terrace