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12 Best Things to do Near Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone

12 Best Things to do Near Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone

If you’re looking for things to do at Mammoth Hot Springs, look no further! These top tourist attractions will keep you entertained for hours.

Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Yellowstone National Park, and for good reason. It’s home to one of the world’s largest geothermal areas, with bubbling hot springs and steaming fumaroles (volcanic vents) popping up almost everywhere you look.

The area also features several hiking trails that lead right into this active thermal landform, making it easy for visitors to explore this remarkable landscape no matter what level of fitness or experience they have.

People who are looking for things to do in Mammoth Hot Springs should read this list! These are the best attractions in the area and people will have a lot of fun if they visit them.

What is Mammoth Hot Springs?

Stream at Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the most popular destinations in Yellowstone National Park, and it’s easy to see why. The hot springs are truly a sight to behold, with their terraced pools and cascading waterfalls.

But Mammoth Hot Springs is more than just a pretty face; it’s an exceedingly active geological region. The hot springs are actually fed by an immense magmatic chamber beneath the earth’s surface.

Rainwater seeps through the rocks and is heated by the magma, before rising back up to the surface and forming the hot springs.

The warm waters flow slowly from one basin to the other, depositing limestone on the surface as they go. Over time, these deposits create the terraces that are so characteristic of Mammoth Hot Springs.

So next time you’re admiring the hot springs, remember that you’re seeing evidence of millions of years of geological activity.

Fun & Best Things to do in Mammoth Hot Springs

Let’s get into our favorite tourist attractions and activities for when you visit Mammoth Hot Springs.

1. Admire the Boiling River

Smoke from Mammoth Hot Springs

The Boiling River is one of Yellowstone’s most popular destinations – which will be obvious as soon as you see it. The hot spring water is great for relaxing in, and the setting is truly stunning. To reach the Boiling River, you will need to hike halfway through the park.

The trail can be rough in places, so it’s a good idea to wear sturdy shoes. Once you reach the river, you can head to the section where the warm thermal features mix with the hot water.

Please be careful – some parts of the river can be very hot, and can rush quite rapidly. If you have children with you, please exercise extreme caution and supervision at all times.

See Related: Best Things to See in Wyoming | Top Tourist Attractions

2. Hike Bunsen Peak

Hikers at Bunsen Peak Trail

Bunsen Peak is a great hike for anyone visiting Mammoth Hot Springs. The trail is well-maintained and runs through a forest at 1,300 ft before climbing to the summit of Bunsen Peak.

The views from the top are spectacular, and the hike is relatively easy, making it a great option for people of all fitness levels. Just be sure to wear proper footwear, as there is a lot of rock scrambling along the trail.

If you’re hiking with kids, bring some snacks and pop so you can celebrate reaching the summit! A hike tour in Yellowstone offers a great hike to Bunsen Peak.

See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends

3. Visit the Upper Terraces and the Lower Terraces

Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs

The Upper Terraces were formed by hot springs and mineral formations. The terraces are a series of travertine pools that were created as water seeped into the porous rock below them, depositing minerals along its path.

This feature occurs all over Yellowstone National Park, but the formation of these specific terraces is unique because they were formed at one time when there was only one large spring flowing through Mammoth Hot Springs.

The best place to see this phenomenon is along Grand Loop Drive, directly across from Liberty Cap (which should be on your left). A short walk down an easy-to-navigate pathway will take you from Liberty Cap to the main street where you can see the terrace with ease.

See Related: Best Things To Do in Cody, Wyoming

4. Pitch a tent at Mammoth Campground

Mammoth Hot Springs Campsite Ground

Mammoth Hot Springs is the perfect place to go camping. The Mammoth Campground in Yellowstone National Park is the perfect spot to set up camp if you’re looking to get away from it all and explore the great outdoors.

With over 1,000 campsites available, there’s sure to be a spot that’s just right for you. The camping areas at Mammoth Campground are Mammoth and Lake & Brook; both offer fishing and hiking opportunities.

If you want to get back to nature, you can choose a rustic site with a fireplace (perfect for roasting marshmallows!) or opt for something more modern at one of the RV sites with amenities like water hookups and electricity.

Mammoth Campground is open from June through September, but there are no set reservations; instead, it operates on a first-come basis with no advance reservations required. So if you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone during peak season, make sure you book your tour early.

See Related: Best Sabbatical Trip Ideas

5. Go fishing

Yellowstone Fishing and Campfire

Mammoth Hot Springs is home to many different types of fish, making it the perfect place to go fishing. There are several fishing opportunities near the Mammoth Hot Springs area, including the Firehole River, where you can fish for brown trout and rainbow trout.

There are also several creeks in the area that offer good fishing for brook trout. If you’re just getting started, you can try your hand at fishing in one of the many ponds and rivers in the area.

These ponds are well stocked with fish, so you’re sure to have a good time. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just getting started, you’ll be able to find the perfect spot to cast your line.

See Related: Best & Fun Things to do in Casper, Wyoming

6. Learn more at the Albright Visitor Center

Albright Visitor Center Front

Albright Visitor Center & Museum is a great place to learn about the history of Yellowstone National Park. The museum highlights everything from the geological history of Yellowstone and how it relates to other supervolcanoes around the world, to cultural history and wildlife.

You’ll also find exhibits on Native American tribes who lived in this region. This area was once home to 11 distinct tribes that spoke different languages but shared similar traditions and values.

You’ll learn about their customary practices and how they would have lived back then, which gives you a greater appreciation for nature and the modern-day park with all it has to offer. It is a sight see and explore on a Yellowstone tour.

The Albright Visitor Center & Museum is also where you can pick up maps and pamphlets, ask questions, and get information on park amenities and events.

See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November

7. Spend a day in Gardiner, Montana

Gardiner Downtown
image by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Gardiner is a small town located in the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park. It’s a great place to stay if you’re looking for a more intimate experience in the park, as there are only a few hotels and restaurants in town.

Gardiner is also home to some of the best wildlife viewing in Yellowstone. You can find bison, elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and more just by driving around town!

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Yellowstone, make sure to stop by the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center. The center is free and open to the public, and it houses an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and photographs relating to the park’s history.

See Related: Best State Parks in Wyoming

8. Hike to Sheepeater Cliff

Sheepeater Cliff and Skyline

Looking for a hidden gem in Yellowstone National Park?

Then check out Sheepeater Cliff Overlook. This little-known spot is one of the best places to see amazing basalt column rocks.

And if you’re brave enough to look over the edge, you’ll be treated to a stunning view of the canyon below, which is filled with hot water. To get to Sheepeater Cliff Overlook, follow the signs from the parking lot and walk down some stairs.

From there, it’s only a short walk out onto a rocky ledge – but make sure not to fall!

Trust us, this hidden hike is definitely worth the effort and the scares!

See Related: Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

9. Hike the Roadside Geology Trail between Norris and Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

You’ll want to do this hike if you’re interested in learning more about the geology of Yellowstone National Park.

The 2.5-mile trail is flat and accessible to all, but there are some steep sections that require careful footing; in addition, most of the trail is covered in gravel, with some sections of dirt and mud as well.

The Roadside Geology Trail between Norris and Mammoth Hot Springs is open year-round, although most visitors find that summer offers better conditions for hiking.

This hike is not particularly strenuous, and it’s definitely worth seeing because it offers great views of Yellowstone Lake and a close look at some unique geological features along its path (such as calderas).

See Related: Best Things to do in Yellowstone National Park

10. Book a stay at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins Building
image by mmmavocado is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

If you’re looking for a place to stay near Mammoth Hot Springs, the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins is a great option. The hotel offers a restaurant and lounge, as well as delicious local ice cream for guests!

I’ll be honest; the main draw for this place is the food.

The Mammoth Hotel Dining Room is located in the historic Mammoth Hotel building and offers three meals a day. Breakfast is served from 7:00 am to 9:00 am, lunch from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm, and dinner from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm. The dining room is open year-round.

The menu features dishes like grilled Montana salmon, bison short ribs, and huckleberry pie. The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins is a great choice for travelers looking for a place to stay near Mammoth Hot Springs.

It’s important to book early if you can, as the hotel tends to fill up quickly! If you’re looking for other hotels near the area, you can find deals at Booking.com.

See Related: Proven Ways to Get Free Hotel Rooms

11. Snap pics at Roosevelt Arch

Roosevelt Arch and Sunset

The North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park is through the Roosevelt Arch. The arch was designed by Robert Reamer and built-in 1903. It is named for the champion of America’s national parks; President Theodore Roosevelt. The archway is 50 feet high and 45 feet wide.

If you plan on arriving in the Mammoth Hot Springs area from Bozeman, you’ll inevitably drive through Gardiner and the Roosevelt Arch to enter Yellowstone Park itself. Snap a photo with it before you enter!

See Related: A 5-Day Yellowstone Itinerary You’ll Want to Copy

12. Visit historic Fort Yellowstone

Houses at Fort Yellowstone

If you’re looking to explore the history of Yellowstone within the Mammoth area, historic Fort Yellowstone is the perfect place to start.

This fort was built in 1872 and served as the headquarters for the U.S. Army’s efforts to protect the park from poachers, and vandals before control were transferred to the National Park Sevice in 1918.

Today, Fort Yellowstone houses a museum with exhibits on the military history of Yellowstone as well as the park’s natural history.

See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, there are so many great things to do while visiting Mammoth Hot Springs. Whether you want to see Yellowstone National Park, go hiking or camping, explore the area around Gardiner, Montana, or just eat some good food – this list has got it all.

If you’re looking to explore the best national parks around the world, sign up for our free travel newsletter and we’ll send you the inside scoop on the best things to see and do.

FAQs

Is Mammoth Hot Springs Worth it?

Mammoth Hot Springs is definitely worth it. They’re one of the main attractions in Yellowstone and have a ton of cool aspects.

You can walk along the boardwalks to see all the different areas, including the Mammoth Terraces (Upper Terraces and Lower Terraces), the hot spring, and the hot springs cone, Liberty Cap. There’s also a visitor center with exhibits about the area.

Can you walk on Mammoth Hot Springs?

The walkways are accessed via parking on Upper Terrace Drive, adjacent to Terrace Mountain, or via parking beneath Lower Terraces on Liberty Cap, an empty hot spring cone.

Upper Terrace Drive has a 1.5-mile one-way loop that is accessible by any vehicle with no motor vehicle, RV, or trailer. You will want to park and walk the short distance to the boardwalk that loops around the hot springs.

The Lower Terrace Drive has a 0.5-mile one-way loop with a few places to park along the way. The best place to start exploring is at the Liberty Cap Parking Area, where there is a short boardwalk that loops around the hot springs.

Is it safe to swim in Mammoth Hot Springs?

No, you cannot swim in the Mammoth Hot Springs themselves. The water is very hot (can be up to 199 degrees Fahrenheit) and also contains high levels of sulfur, making it lethal and therefore completely unsafe for swimming.

Upper Terrace Drive has a 1.5-mile one-way loop that is accessible by any vehicle with no motor vehicle, RV, or trailer. You will want to park and walk the short distance to the boardwalk that loops around the hot springs.

The Lower Terrace Drive has a 0.5-mile one-way loop with a few places to park along the way. The best place to start exploring is at the Liberty Cap Parking Area, where there is a short boardwalk that loops around the hot springs.

Is it safe to swim in Mammoth Hot Springs?

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