Our first day at Yellowstone National Park, we drove right up the hill from the Mammoth Campground, and started exploring Mammoth Hot Springs. The first place we stopped was the visitor center, where we picked up Jayden’s Disabilities Access Pass.
The visitor center had a small gift shop and an interactive exhibit with taxidermy animals.
By the way, we saw lots of elk, but none with antlers. Even with all of the signs telling people to keep their distance… well, people are not very bright.
There are a few places between the visitor center, and Mammoth Hot Springs. There’s a post office, Mammoth Springs Hotel, and the General Store- among others. It’s a short walk, though from the visitor center to the lower terrace boardwalk. The parking around the lower terrace fills up fast, so if you’re just passing through, you want to get there early if you want to park close.
Mammoth Hot Springs is a hill of travertine(a form of limestone). The shades of brown, orange, red and green are from algae living in the pools on terraces.
Jayden’s standing in front of Devil’s Thumb. The terraces were somewhat dried out when we visited. I’ve heard that earlier in the year, there is more water in these. Jayden’s facial expression is due partly to the smell. If you’ve never been to Yellowstone, you might find the strong smell of sulfur to be displeasing in some areas. The kids weren’t very appreciative of the smell here, but it is a very interesting area visually.
The steam rising from the ground provided an added aesthetic.
Liberty Cap, named in 1871 for its resemblance to the peaked caps worn in the French Revolution, is probably the most prominent feature seen. It stems from mineral built up when the water used to spring to a great height.
I bribed the kids with ice cream a couple of times from the General Store. I was pleasantly surprised by the serving size- which is hard to see in this picture, but single scoop waffle cones only cost $3.50. The single scoop was more like a double scoop because they put a scoop to fill the cone, and then a scoop on top of that. The huckleberry ice cream is delicious.
Elk are found in abundance around Mammoth. They seem to be tame, which made stupid tourists ignore the signs to not approach. People were posing their kids right in front of elk- inches away. I was waiting for someone to try to sit their kid on them.
This was a random evening that I walked up from our campsite, and was met with thunder and lightning, but also a rainbow.
Noteworthy- Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the few places in Yellowstone that has internet. If you enjoy Pokemon Go, there are several stops in this area, and even two gyms by the terraces.
There are other places in the area I didn’t get a chance to explore, but hopefully this might be of help to those unsure of what to do in Yellowstone. Stay tuned for our next visit- the geysers and springs day.