With only two days left in Yellowstone we still had the northwest section of the park to explore. one of those days we drove to Mammoth Hot Springs. The road to Mammoth was undergoing extensive road work with signs warning of up to 30 minute delays. We were lucky and only had about a fifteen minute delay going and no delay returning home.
Mammoth Hot Springs has mineral laden hot water from deep within the Earth’s crust which finds its way to the surface and builds beautiful tiers of cascading, terraced stone. Hot water and gases ascend through limestone deposits, sculpting the rock. Once exposed to the air, calcium carbonate from the limestone is deposited as a rock called travertine. These hot springs do not erupt but instead build these spectacular terraces. The terrace sculpting has been going on for thousands of years as thousands of gallons of water well up and deposit large amounts of travertine, or limestone, daily and as quickly as three feet per year!
We walked along the Hot Springs Terraces Walk, a boardwalk which led us around the terraces and hot springs.
We then drove the Upper Terrace Drive, a road that gave us a perspective from atop the terraces.
Mammoth Hot Springs is where the Yellowstone park headquarters is located and it has a village of stores, gift shops, a Visitors Center and a couple restaurants. In the early days of Yellowstone National Park’s existence the park was protected by the U.S. Army from 1886 to 1918. From what you might wonder. From people damaging the geothermal areas and other land and hunting the wildlife. The original buildings of Fort Yellowstone such as the guardhouse, jail and soldiers’ barracks are preserved and still standing in Mammoth Springs today.
Here is a video showing the water flowing down the terrace:
While in the area we drove the short distance to the north entrance of the park where the Roosevelt Arch is located. The beautiful arch was constructed under the supervision of the U.S. Army at Fort Yellowstone. The cornerstone was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. The top of the Arch is inscribed with a quote from the Organic Act of 1872, “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”.