Mammoth Springs

Mammoth Yellowstone, WY


This surreal location, called Mammoth Hot Springs which is located at the northern most part of Yellowstone National Park (near a little community of Mammoth). The springs are a series of 50 or so springs on a travertine hillside - that come to the surface at about 170°. It is a great place to visit when in Yellowstone, however, for the most park it is difficult to capture a great image to represent these unearthly views.

The shot above is found off a boardwalk path on the southern section of the Upper Terrace. The dead trees in a travertine pool of steaming hot water can make for an appealing image, but needs the right light and water in the pools to make it work. I find this shot is best at sunset or dusk and really only works when the springs are running (which is not always the case).

The travertine hillside is very fragile and thus, the entire area around the hot springs is restricted to the public except and is only accessible on an above ground boardwalk structures. Make sure you stay on the terrace boardwalk path.

Trail Difficulty - EASY

I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 1 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). This shot is an easy 200yd. walk from the Mammoth Spring Upper Terraces parking lot.

Download KMZ Trail File

Click Here to download the KMZ file for this location.

GPS Coordinates & Elevation

44°58'1.96"N 110°42'24.11"W 

6,567 Ft Elevation

Google Maps Birds-Eye-View

Click link above to view location in Google Earth


CLICK HERE to get driving directions to Mammoth Springs Upper Terraces Parking Lot

 The closest town is Mammoth, WY (which is at the northern most border of Yellowstone National Park). From Mammoth, drive 2.1 miles south on HW 89 to the entrance of the Mammoth Springs Upper Terraces (this is up the hill past the Lower Terraces).

The drive up the Upper Terraces parking area is a one way paved road. Drive on the road for ¼ mile and park in the small parking area.

From the parking lot walk take the terrace path to the right and walk down about 200yds until you reach to shooting location. The path is on an above ground boardwalk structures that keep the visitors off of the springs. Make sure you stay on the terrace boardwalk path!!

From the parking lot walk take the terrace path to the right and walk down about 200yds until you reach to shooting location. The path is on an above ground boardwalk structures that keep the visitors off of the springs. Make sure you stay on the terrace boardwalk path!!

Best Time of Day to Shoot

I find the best time to shoot this location is at sunset or past sunset toward dusk (or on a cloudy day). This eliminates the harsh contrast with the background.  

Best Time of Year to Shoot

This location can be photographed any time of year (as long as the road is open). The road is normally closed from December – April.

The above shot was taken on August 25th

What Lens(es) Do You Need

This shot was taken with a 24mm lens.


Once you pay the entry fee to get into Yellowstone, there are no permits required.

Direction of the Shot

The shot is north by northeast at @ 24°

Special Nuances of Shot

This shot is all about the water pools around the dead tree. The water pools around in the Mammoth Springs are very unpredictable and may be flowing, empty or full and is different from season to season and year to year. I have been to this location 4 times and it only had water in the foreground pool once. The other times, there were no water in the pools at all.

If these springs are flowing and the pools have water in them – then the shot is fairly straightforward taken from the boardwalk and framed to position the dead trees in the best alignment with the background (mountain, sunset and water pools).

Special Equipment Needed

No need for any special photography equipment (other than a tripod). I use a tilt-shift lens for this shot to keep the correct perspective.

Number of Other Photographers to Expect

The Mammoth hot springs are a high traffic area in tourist season. However, this location is on the upper terrace which reduces the number of tourist that visit here. If you shoot at sunset/dusk, usually the crowds have thinned out.  


Current Weather

Weather in Yellowstone is mild in the late spring, summer, and early fall and bitter in the winter. The weather in Yellowstone is very unpredictable and changes quickly.

Cell Service

I have Verizon and had cell service at this location.

Overnight Lodging/Camping

The closest communities are Mammoth and nice little town of Gardiner Montana. There is a nice campground on the north side of Mammoth called Mammoth Campground. The campground is medium size and is first come, first serve and fills up quickly each day.

The only lodging in Mammoth is the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel which is only a 10-minute walk from the hot springs. The little town of Gardiner Montana has several hotels and RV parks.

Camping - click on the campground below for directions

Mammoth Campground – located in the north side of Mammoth

Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
1 Grand Loop, Yellowstone National Park, WY

Best Western By Mammoth Hot Springs
905 Scott Street West, Gardiner, MT

Nearby Restaurants

As mentioned, the closest towns are Mammoth and Gardiner Montana (7 miles north of Mammoth). The only dinning in Mammoth is at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. There are plenty of restaurants and watering holes in Gardiner.

When in Gardiner, make sure you stop for breakfast at the Yellowstone Grill. You won't be disappointed. 

Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review

The Raven Grill
118 E Park St, Gardiner, MT

The Yellowstone Grill
404 Scott St, Gardiner, MT

Laundry Mat

The only laundry mat close by is Gardiner Laundry in Gardiner.

111 E Main St, Gardiner, MT

Other Photography Opportunities Around

Click on an image below to move to that location

Airport Options

The closest airports are Bozeman Yellowstone International (about 75miles away) and Jackson Hole Airport (about 150 miles away). Jackson Hole Airport is a very nice, small, clean airport just 11 miles north of the city of Jackson.

Area Guides and Workshops


Other Resources

The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determine the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise/moonset from any place on earth on any day (past and future). Click here to take you to The Photographer's Ephemeris for this location.

Travertine Terraces - Yellowstone National Park (NPS)

Explore the Mammoth Hot Springs Area (NSP)