And The “Ewwy Gooey Awesomeness” Award For Yellowstone National Park Goest To Mammoth Hot Springs
The sheer diversity of the area and the uniqueness from spot to spot are impressive. But the overall “melty” environment makes it truly distinct compared to some of the other areas of the park. In Yellowstone, hot springs are everywhere, but in this area, they’re off the charts!
Quite a few early morning drives in Yellowstone National Park are cloaked in fog to begin with. Add the activeness of animals between dusk and dawn and the mornings are definitely winners.
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Protip: If you’re interested in the 14-hour day to end all days exploring all of the major stops in Yellowstone, Check out this guide!
Spoiler Alert: I’m not a professional photographer…but that’s kind of the point! These are all spots and pics you could take with just the phone in your pocket when you visit!
Travel Tips For Your Trip To The Canyon Village & Yellowstone Falls Area…Or Yellowstone In General
- Dress in layers, and be ready for rain. I personally experienced fog, blue skies, torrential rain, hail, and more blue skies within a 12-hour window…in that order.
- Plan for more drive-time than you can possibly imagine. Yellowstone National Park is huge!
- Bring snacks. Because you’ll probably want to spend more time exploring and less stopping for food.
- Get a good map and/or guidebook. While you can get free ones in the park, they pale in comparison to a full-sized, waterproof map with great details. And this guidebook is also one I use at every US National Park I visit. Protip, if you’re going to visit the Grand Tetons National Park as well, get the combo map pack!
- Come early and stay late! I cannot stress this one enough. The most beautiful times with the most animal activity are before 9am and after 6pm. Most people visit the park between 10am and 5pm. Do the math.
- Wear Proper Footwear! Between slippery wooden walkways and backcountry hikes, it’s good practice to wear good high-ankle boots with traction. And if they’re waterproof, bonus: Stomping all willy-nilly through the puddles and water on the trails! (And Bear Spray!)
Angel Terrace: The White, Melting Cascades of Mammoth Hot Springs
My absolute favorite part of the entire Upper and Lower Terraces of Mammoth definitely had to be Angel Terrace (above). Yellowstone hot springs are plentiful, but there’s just something magical about this spot. There’s a great little side boardwalk that allows you to check it out up close.
Unfortunately for me, the Cleopatra area in the Lower Terrace was closed, so I can’t even report on that. Sad trombone. (Go for me and let me know on Instagram!)
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Upper Terrace Drive & Lower Terrace Drive are definitely worth the…um…drive? I say this because you can also park down below it all and skip the drive altogether. I had the good fortune to be there around 8am and have the place all to myself. #Winning, and a prize I’d happily pass on to you if you can drag your butt out that early! (FYI, my drive from Norris ended up being about 2 hours…so…)
Before You Leave The Mammoth Hot Springs Area…
Make sure that you make another visit to the visitors center in Old Fort Yellowstone! This is yet another opportunity to learn how these Yellowstone hot springs and thermals work. It will help you appreciate them even more.
No, really, they literally just make themselves at home anywhere they want (see video). Many were lying literally feet from the front of cabins where people were enjoying their morning coffee!
Tower Falls And Roosevelt Lodge Areas In Yellowstone National Park
Because you can likely only spend 2-3 hours in/around the Mammoth Hot Springs Area, I suggest heading over to the Tower/Roosevelt Junction.
Tower Falls is a nice, simple hike to an overlook. But you could also chunk off a longer hike in the area. Make sure you cross the street near Tower Falls to check out the river coming down the mountain under the road!
Hiking In Yellowstone National Park: Bear Spray
Backcountry hikes in Yellowstone are no joke. And doing them solo (like this here dummy…) is frowned upon. Yes, after seeing that nearly everyone employed in/near the parks carries bear spray, I stopped being so naive and bought this fairly inexpensive bottle of life insurance.
Especially if you’re solo, but even with groups, equip and know how to use bear spray and keep it handy. It not only works for grizzlies or black bears, but will slow down most pissed-off 4-legged creatures that might take offense to you trudging on their land. It will at least slow them down long enough for you to figure out your next move. You can get it cheaper online before your trip, but make sure you know whether you can fly with it, if you’re flying!
Beyond that, always assume a day hike could turn into an overnight. Carry enough gear to hunker down, stay warm, and stay hydrated and fed just in case. Carry a good map, and realize that cell signal is not really a thing in the backcountry.
READ NEXT: (Nerd Alert!) Buying A Wall Map of the World Helped Completely Change My Travel Perspective
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Is Life An Adventure Anymore? Reflections from Camping in Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef National Park
Helpful Links, Articles & Guides for Planning Your Trip To Yellowstone
Here are area-specific details on all of these places: Norris Geyser Basin & Norris Junction, Old Faithful Geyser & Grand Prismatic Hot Springs Area, Mammoth Hot Springs Junction & Tower/Roosevelt Junction, The Ultimate Yellowstone National Park 14-Hour Day Guide.
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Travel Planning Tips
Figure out where you are going & how are you getting there…
I suggest using at least 2 to 3 different travel search sites. Start with Skyscanner or Orbitz or Booking …or whatever aggregator site you prefer. Then when you see what airlines to use, check their respective sites for better deals or rewards flights.
Figure out where you’re going to stay…
If you’re interested in hostels, search Hostelworld or Hostelling International. For longer-term or more private digs, look at Airbnb, VRBO, or you can look for hotel rooms in the links from the search engines listed above.
Get comprehensive travel insurance, or in the least, travel medical insurance if internationally…
Especially with Covid not going anywhere, get covered. Start with an insurance aggregator like Insure My Trip, or with SafetyWing, World Nomads, or another. Then decide what is important to you; trip cancellation, baggage coverage, medical, or all of the above. And get a yearly evacuation plan, since you’ll have to get home after your emergency!
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