On our last day in Yellowstone NP we drove from our campground to Mammoth Hot Springs. On the way we passed the 45th parallel sign.
As we entered the village of Mammoth Hot Springs we were delighted to see a large herd of elk grazing in the traffic circle. We especially enjoyed seeing all the calves.
We continued on to the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces area.
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 around the extensive boardwalk area, up and down many steps as we made our way around the area. Just beautiful!
Near the parking area is what they call “Liberty Cap”, a dormant hot spring cone 37 feet tall. The 1871 Hayden Geological Survey strangely named the cone after the peasant caps worn during the French Revolution. They were also depicted on early American coins.
The village of 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 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.
This concludes our time in Yellowstone NP. Next we continue our summer travels into Montana.