Yellowstone National Park’s Mammoth Hot Springs surprisingly became one of my favorite photography locations in Yellowstone during the summer of 2019.  Although I had photographed many areas of the park many times, it was not until 2019 that I began to capture the beauty of  Mammoth Hot Spring. 

Where is Mammoth Hot Springs?

About Mammoth Hot Springs:

  • There are two major areas to Mammoth Hot Springs:
    • The first area is the Lower Terrace which is comprised of boardwalks and numerous stairs. 
    • The second area is the Upper Terrace Drive featuring a one way 3/4 mile road with access to a couple boardwalks, scenic vistas that include the town of Mammoth Hot Springs and other unique thermal features. 
  • Mammoth Hot Springs is not only an amazing thermal area but also a cool destination with restaurants, a historic hotel, gift shops, year round elk, two ice cream stores and more.
  • The thermal features in Mammoth Hot Springs are very different from the park’s other thermal features in that they derive their colors and formations from limestone which result in faster development of new terraces.  In fact, I noticed changes in Mammoth’s landscape in the short three months I was there.

 In fact I liked the area so much that I included two Mammoth Hot Springs photos in my: Favorite 8 Photos From 2019 “.

Mammoth Lower Terrace Boardwalks:

Palette Springs 

Palette Springs is located at the end of the northern most boardwalk with a small overlook that tends to get extremely crowded.  My recommendation for photographing this area is to visit in the evening or in the early morning hours. Other times of day, the area is difficult to photograph due to the massive crowds and constantly shaking boardwalk.  Lastly, on the way to Palette Springs be sure to stop all along the walk to photograph the features.

Be creative, take your time, and this location will reward you with great photos.

Views from the Boardwalk

View from Palette Springs Overlook

Minerva, Mound & Cleopatra Springs Area : 

The next boardwalk section takes visitors past the now dead terraces of Minerva and on to a colorful area called Mound Springs. Mound Springs is an abstract photographer’s heaven and I doubt I will ever be able to process all the abstracts I photographed in this one area!  I am not sure why Mound Springs is not shown on the above map, maybe it’s a newer terrace.  Anyway, it is located between Minerva and Cleopatra and is quite diverse. 

Canary Springs from Yellowstone Loop Road:

Canary Springs is visible from both the main Yellowstone Loop Road as well as from the Upper Terrace Drive boardwalk.  This is a great morning photography stop, especially if you park in the lot with restrooms off the Park Loop Road directly across from Canary Terrace.

When photographing from this location, I recommend using a telephoto lens in the range of 200-400mm depending on the desired composition and where you are standing.  Also walk the trail adjacent to the north side of the parking lot for good vantage points of the terrace.  The compositions are endless, the colors are stunning, and if you are lucky, you may get an elk in the scene.

Mammoth Upper Terrace Drive :

Canary Springs and other scenics from the Upper Terrace Boardwalk:

Immediately after entering the Upper Terrace Drive, there will be a parking lot for about 2 cars.  Park here if you can and take the boardwalk directly across the road all the way to it’s end.  At the end of the boardwalk, you will discover spectacular views of Canary Springs.  This spot is best photographed in the early morning hours but can also be good in the evenings.

If there is no space in this lot, drive a short distance for additional parking.  From the second parking lot walk the boardwalk on the right all the way to where it ends at Canary Springs.  It will take you past a number of cool features.

Orange Mound Springs:

Orange Mound Springs is located on the back portion of the Upper Terrace Drive and best photographed in the afternoon. 


Driving from Orange Mound Springs to the end of the loop road, photo opportunities continue including a stand a dead trees.

Mammoth in the Abstract

Mammoth Hot Springs also has endless possibilities for creating abstracts.  Here are a couple photographs from the area but days could be spent focusing on abstracts. 


I have barely touched the surface of all the photography opportunities that abound in the Mammoth Hot Springs area and hope I have encouraged you to dedicate photography time to this area.  

Speaking of Yellowstone, be sure to check out other Yellowstone posts:

Photographing Yellowstone’s Upper Geyser Basin

Photographing Yellowstone’s Biscuit, Black Sand & Midway Geyser Basins

See you again next Friday for another Road Trip Friday Journey.



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