Friday, September 13, 2013

Mammoth Hot Springs and the Blacktail Plateau

Today's drive was to Tower-Roosevelt via Mammoth Hot Springs.  The day started with dense fog.  This is a steaming hill side early in the day.  There wasn't a lot of color yet, due to the flat light.

Wikipedia tells us, "The hot water that feeds Mammoth comes from Norris Geyser Basin after traveling underground via a fault line that runs through limestone and roughly parallel to the Norris-to-Mammoth road. The limestone from rock formations along the fault is the source of the calcium carbonate. Shallow circulation along this corridor allows Norris' superheated water to slightly cool before surfacing at Mammoth, generally at about 170 °F (80 °C). Algae living in the warm pools have tinted the travertine shades of brown, orange, red, and green."  All those colors are coming from thermophiles.

Look at the dead trees.  The tree foreground is still alive.  We thought that was pretty odd.

The terraces are just huge.  Rock deposition has been going on for a long time.

The Minerva Terrace.  It was pretty dry today.

A pool of hot water along a board walk.

More terraces.  It's an other wordly area.  See the grey area on the left?  That's old rock that no longer has water flowing over it.

After the Hot Springs area we drove toward the Tower Roosevelt area, taking the dirt Blacktail Plateau Drive.  It's not a terrible dirt road.  We saw more bison.  On the far right is a baby.  I though about climbing up the hill for a better angle, but decided a possible goring wasn't worth it.

Big sky on the plateau.

I took this on the way back towards the terraces at Mammoth, click to enlarge.  The phallic looking formation is the Liberty Cap.  It was created by a hot spring that was active in one location for a long time.  Its internal pressure was sufficient to raise the water to a great height, allowing mineral deposits to build slowly and continuously for hundreds of years.  The terraces are in the background, you get an idea of how big they are.

We saw more bison driving back.  One was heading directly for the road.  If we had been a minute or so later, he probably would have crossed in front of us.  He was making good time.  I'd really like to see a herd of them running.
That was today.


  1. Allison, what wonderful photos! I love everything Yellowstone! Thanks for including so many photos. They bring back wonderful memories. Looking forward to more:)

  2. Wow--amazingly dramatic photos--literally seem out of this world.

    Now it is us who are following your breadcrumbs along the trail. We are in Livingston for a Jimmy Buffet Saturday night, then off to West Yellowstone on Monday.