Yellowstone – Mammoth Terrace

Note: This post was from a visit to Yellowstone prior to the park closing. As an update on the park the southern loop opened yesterday only allowing odd numbered license plate vehicles to enter. Despite that restriction ( they will alternative odd and even plates every day) the line to the park was insane stretching miles out of town at 8am. People waited for hours to get in. Although we were curious, we are choosing to stay away from the park for the time being in the hopes it will calm down a bit.

One evening we were looking for something to do and headed up to Mammoth Terrace. I was pretty so-so about seeing the Terrace because from the outside it looks like a big white hill, but since the weather was great we decided to drive up there. The terrace has multiple levels with parking at each one so we randomly chose to start at the top. Pretty quickly I was disabused of the idea that it would be boring because once you got inside the terrace there was lots of cool stuff to see.

There are multiple Terraces to see and from my my perspective it really doesn’t matter where you start.

The views of the town were pretty great from the top and there are numerous boardwalks on the areas that are safe. It turns out that the terrace is constantly changing under pressure and the park service evaluates where people can walk. The white areas (which are kind of boring) are where water no longer flows, but the colored areas have boiling water or steam and are really beautiful.

At the very end of the walkway on the top level there was a gorgeous terrace (my favorite) and views of the tiny cars below. The entire structure is huge …taller than a 4 story building.

After we finished the top we went to a parking lot on a lower level and walked the rest. The climbs are considered strenuous and it did get really hot while we were walking. It was really cool though because we would turn a corner and see something very different. I really liked the Minerva Terrace as well because we could get very close to the water. It was all gushing from one medium sized hole and made that terrace really beautiful.

Much more beautiful than the picture can capture
This is the hole that all the water was coming from. It was rushing out
The white section is where the water no longer flows

Because there are huge sections with no water people often think the Terrace is drying up. The NPS has monitored it and the water is roughly the same. 90% of the water is underground and it changes where it comes out periodically. That makes the terrace a living, changing thing and I found it more interesting for that. It reminded me of coral reefs we have seen while scuba diving, but in the open air.

We finally made it to the “ground floor” and saw the Liberty Cap and Opal Terrace. We were lucky enough to exchange picture taking with a nice group and although it was pretty crowded found a moment or two for some nice shots.

Just goes to show you that you can’t judge a book by its cover and I am so glad we took the time to do this. Just keep in mind it was VERY warm in the middle sections and the stairs can be strenuous. You can drive to each section though and somewhat skip the stairs if you like.

Since right after this trip it started raining and didn’t stop for several days which led to flooding and eventual closure of this section of the park feel even more blessed that we got to see this.


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