More Mammoth Hot Springs Area Highlights

You could spend your lifetime exploring Yellowstone National Park. Here are some more of our favorite places and things to do in the Mammoth Hot Springs Area. From home, take an online tour of the Mammoth Hot Springs area, join park rangers as they describe the features and processes of Mammoth Hot Springs in two-minute Inside Yellowstone videos, or see what's happening now on the Mammoth Hot Springs webcams: Travertine Terraces and Parade Grounds and Officers' Row.

A river's banks are covered in sage brush, trees with yellow leaves, and tall conifer trees
In the Gardner Canyon, you can see the old, sorted gravel bed of the Gardner River covered by unsorted glacial till.

NPS / Neal Herbert

Watch Wildlife in the Gardner River Canyon

The North Entrance Road from Gardiner, Montana, to Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, runs along the Gardner River. The road winds into the park, up the canyon, past crumbling walls of sandstone and ancient mudflows. The vegetation is much thicker in the canyon than on the open prairie down below, the common trees being Rocky Mountain juniper, cottonwood, and Douglas-fir. Low-growing willows also crowd the river's edge in the flatter, flood-prone sections of the canyon.

Watch for wildlife in season: eagles, osprey, dippers, and kingfishers along the river and bighorn sheep in the steeper parts of the canyon.

Hikers on a mountain trail
The trail to the top of Bunsen Peak is popular with hikers.

NPS / Jim Peaco

Reach the Top of Bunsen Peak

Bunsen Peak and the "Bunsen burner" were both named for the German physicist, Robert Wilhelm Bunsen. Although most people are familiar with the "Bunsen burner," few people know why his students gave the burner that name. He was involved in pioneering research about geysers, and a "Bunsen burner" has a resemblance to a geyser. His theory on geysers was published in the 1800s, and it is still believed to be accurate.

Bunsen Peak is 8,564 feet high (2,612 meters) and may be climbed via a trail that starts at the Golden Gate. Another trail, the old Bunsen Peak road, skirts around the flank of the peak from the Youth Conservation Corps camp to the Golden Gate. This old road may be used by hikers, mountain-bikers, and skiers in winter—travel safely and know what to do if you encounter wildlife

The peak is also interesting because it burned in the 1880s and then again in 1988. A series of old photos show the creep of trees up Bunsen following the 1880 fires, and the new patterns of open space created by the fires of 1988.

Mark your Journey to the 45th Parallel

A sign north of where the road crosses the Gardner River marks the 45th parallel of latitude. The 45th parallel is an imaginary line that circles the globe halfway between the equator and the North Pole. This same line passes through Minneapolis-St. Paul, Ottawa, Bordeaux, Venice, Belgrade, and the northern tip of the Japanese islands. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of the Montana/Wyoming state line does not follow the 45th parallel through the park.

Elk run off a ridge
Mt. Everts is made of sedimentary rocks deposited when this area was covered by a shallow inland sea, 70 to 140 million years ago. It was named for an explorer with the 1870 Washburn Expedition.

NPS / Neal Herbert

Find Perspective in the Shadow of Mt. Everts

Mt. Everts is made up of distinctly layered sandstones and shales—sedimentary rocks deposited when this area was covered by a shallow inland sea, 70 to 140 million years ago. Mt. Everts was named for explorer Truman Everts of the 1870 Washburn Expedition who became separated from his camping buddies, lost his glasses, lost his horse, and spent the next 37 days starving and freezing and hallucinating as he made his way through the untracked and inhospitable wilderness. Upon rescue, he was, according to his rescuers, within but a few hours of death. Everts never made it quite as far as Mt. Everts. He was found near the "Cut" on the Blacktail Plateau Drive and was mistaken for a black bear and nearly shot. His story was later published in Scribner's Monthly Magazine (See "Thirty-Seven Days of Peril"), which remains one of Yellowstone's best known, lost-in-the-wilderness stories. It has also been published in book form, edited by Yellowstone's historian, Lost in the Yellowstone.

A stone archway straddles a small road
Visitors can drive through the Roosevelt Arch year-round.

NPS / Jacob Frank


Make a Historic Entrance at Roosevelt Arch

The first major entrance for Yellowstone was at the north boundary. Before 1903, trains would bring visitors to Cinnabar, Montana, which was a few miles northwest of Gardiner, Montana, and people would climb onto horse-drawn coaches there to enter the park. In 1903, the railway finally came to Gardiner, and people entered through an enormous stone archway. Robert Reamer, a famous architect in Yellowstone, designed the immense stone arch for coaches to travel through on their way into the park. At the time of the arch's construction, President Theodore Roosevelt was visiting the park. He consequently placed the cornerstone for the arch, which then took his name. The top of the Roosevelt Arch is inscribed with "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people," which also appears in the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916. Watch the Inside Yellowstone episode about Roosevelt Arch (1 min. 36 sec.)

People bathing in river
Visitors enjoy the Boiling River. It is not without risk, however. There is no lifeguard, the currents can be deceivingly fast, and disease-causing microorganisms thrive in warm water.

NPS / Jim Peaco


Soak in the Boiling River

Cold water from the Gardner River mixes with the Boiling River hot spring here. Please note: you may soak in the river, not in the hot spring itself. Boiling River is one of the few legal thermal soaking areas in Yellowstone. Soaking in hot springs and other thermal features is prohibited and features are very fragile. You may soak in bodies of water fed by runoff from hydrothermal features. The Boiling River is closed in spring, early summer, and other times of hazardous high water. Check our current conditions page for Boiling River status. Limited parking is often full and overflowing in the summer, 10 am-6 pm. Walk from the parking lot to the designated area on a trail for .5 miles (.8 km).

  • Soaking is only permitted during designated hours, night use is prohibited.
  • There are no lifeguards on duty and the current of the river can be swift. All soaking is undertaken at the visitor's own risk.
  • Bathing suits are required.
  • Alcohol is prohibited.
  • Disease-causing microorganisms thrive in warm water.
  • The only place to change is in a single vault toilet.
  • Use trash cans.

Check out other Mammoth Hot Springs natural highlights and geologic features.

Yellowstone Forever funded the Boiling River Trail Project. They are a non-profit organization whose mission is to fund projects and programs that protect, preserve and enhance Yellowstone National Park.

Find Evidence of Glaciers
The Mammoth area exhibits much evidence of glacial activity from the Pinedale Glaciation. The summit of Terrace Mountain is covered with glacial till, thereby dating the travertine formation there to earlier than the end of the Pinedale Glaciation. Several thermal kames, including Capitol Hill and Dude Hill, are major features of the developed areas of Mammoth Hot Springs. Ice-marginal stream beds are in evidence in the small, narrow valleys where Floating Island Lake and Phantom Lake are found. In Gardner Canyon, one can see the old, sorted gravel bed of the Gardner River covered by unsorted glacial till.
Prepare for Your Trip

Last updated: August 27, 2018

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Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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