Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Photos, maps of Yellowstone National Park’s Mammoth Hot Springs boardwalk trails

Day hikers can walk through one of the world’s most fantastic collection of travertine terraces on the Mammoth Hot Springs boardwalks at Yellowstone National Park.

To reach the site, from the U.S. Hwys. 191/89 intersection near West Yellowstone, take the Grand Loop Road/U.S. Hwy. 89 east and north about 30 miles toward the Montana border. A couple of parking areas can be found off the highway's left/west side with walking paths leading from them into the hot springs area.

Sunrise over the hot springs (photo courtesy of Yellowstone NPS); a series of connected trails cut through the heart of the geological feature:

Overview map of Mammoth Hot Springs with key geological features (illustration courtesy of Wikipedia):

Among the best lots the park is the one immediately north of the road that turns off the highway to the horse corral. A 0.8-mile hike (outlined in yellow) then can be followed through the hot springs:

The white terraces are created by dissolved limestone that crystalizes as the hot spring brings it to the surface:

Sunlight low on the horizon casts a warm glow across the terraces:

Some of the terraces can grow quite tall. They are several thousand years in the making:

Steam from the hot springs roils off the terraces:

Looks like a scene out of winter, but this photo was taken in summer:

Brown algae that thrives in hot environments grows on some of the terraces; other algae colors found at the hot springs are red, orange and green:

Learn about other great national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks guidebook.