In one respect, Mammoth Hot Springs is located at the end of the road. Although you can travel eastward into Lamar Valley, Mammoth is as far south as you can drive your car through Yellowstone in winter. But, some of the best adventures begin where the road ends. Here, you may need to leave the car behind, but there is still plenty of exploring to do.
You can start by walking the boardwalks. These raised sidewalks weave through the hot springs terraces into a world mixed with hot water and ice. Extreme microclimates existing side by side seem to be the norm in Yellowstone. Please use caution on the trails; they are often snow-covered and slippery.
Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the most dynamic places in the park. The active sections of the overall terrace system are always changing. Areas that are cold and snow-covered today could be hot and active tomorrow.
At places like Canary Spring, the forest and the thermal activity seem to be at constant battle. The hot water floods and kills the trees in one section, while plant life slowly reclaims dormant areas.
As a whole, the entire Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace system discharges about 500 gallons of hot water per minute. That water deposits about 2 tons of calcium carbonate or travertine each day.
There are some great views to be had from the top of the terraces. Looking past Historic Fort
Yellowstone, the snow capped mountains of Montana can be seen in the distance.
If you would like to venture a little farther into the wilderness, you can ski or snowshoe the Upper Terrace Loop Trail. This is a nice mile and a half long trail. You can also connect to longer more strenuous routes from here.
Check conditions at the Albright Visitor Center before you take off. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. The extreme weather in Yellowstone changes fast. Be prepared.
Whether you know Mammoth well or it’s your first time seeing these travertine terraces, you may discover something unique while you’re here. I hope you find that this is not the end of the road, but the beginning of the trail.