What makes something as remarkable as the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces? There are four key ingredients: heat, water, limestone and a rock fracture system that allows hot water to reach the earth’s surface. Yellowstone has all of these elements and the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces are a grand display of it. This major thermal feature of the park has hot pools, coral formations and is in constant flux. Every time you visit, you’ll get to discover something new. There are two “terraces” to visit; the upper and the lower. How it works is the water is heated below the surface of the earth by a magma pool and then seeps through the rock fracture system to the surface. The hot water evaporates as the waters cool and leave behind the limestone.
Although the entire area is quite impressive, our favourite highlights were the Palette Springs, Canary Springs, Minerva Spring (which has been dry since 2002 but the terrace is still there and beautiful) and Liberty Cap (a 36 foot tall dormant hot spring).
The Terraces are located in the “town” of Mammoth Hot Spring, which between 1886 and 1918 was known as Fort Yellowstone. There are many historical buildings available for tour if you’re looking for some historical information on the people aspect of Yellowstone.