- By kevin
- On Apr 23, 2018
- North America
- Travel Tips
With our Yellowstone travel guide to learn the best family vacation destinations in Yellowstone. Or take part in our Yellowstone tour from Seattle and travel Yellowstone with our guider. From Wyoming, the West Thumb and Grant Village and Fishing Bridge, Lake Village and Bridge Bay areas are easily accessible from the East and South Entrances, while those traveling through Idaho can head straight through the West Entrance into the Madison and West Yellowstone area.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Sitting just southwest of the North Entrance in the aptly named Mammoth Hot Springs area, Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the park's more unique attractions. Known for its terraces – formed over centuries of hot water bubbling up from the ground, cooling and depositing calcium carbonate – Mammoth Hot Springs' travertine formations are often described as natural sculpture. As you explore, keep an eye out for elk grazing near the edge of the springs before terrace-hopping along numerous boardwalks down toward the bottom. Also, avoid direct contact with the water, which can easily cause burns.
According to recent visitors, Mammoth Hot Springs is "an amazing spectacle" that can't be missed. For some of the attraction's best views, travelers suggest walking up to the Upper Terraces. Hikers, meanwhile, can enjoy longer treks on one of Yellowstone's hiking trails, many of which start near the springs.
If you're interested in Yellowstone history, several travelers recommend checking out the adjacent Albright Visitor Center, which features displays on the park's natural and cultural history, as well as contemporary exhibits showcasing the unique wildlife found in the park's Northern Range. The facility stays open year-round.
Free parking is provided on-site, or you can join a tour offered by operators like Buffalo Bus Touring Company and Xanterra Parks & Resorts. But remember, tour rates generally do not cover park entrance fees, which cost $30 per vehicle and $25 per motorcycle. Mammoth is accessible 24 hours a day from April 20 to Nov. 6.
Located between Yellowstone's Northeast Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs in the Tower-Roosevelt Area, Lamar Valley is a wildlife haven. In fact, this valley is often referred to as "America's Serengeti" because it has an abundance of animals. Bison are most commonly spotted here, but you may also catch a glimpse of grizzly bears, pronghorns, bald eagles and wolves. The remnants of a former hot spring are also situated in the eastern part of the valley.
Previous visitors said passing through Lamar Valley is a must. You'll have ample opportunities to see bison. Some may even cross Beartooth Highway (Lamar Valley's main thoroughfare, which also goes by Northeast Entrance Road) at times, so stay alert when driving. If you're looking for a scenic spot to stop for a bite to eat, some travelers suggest packing a picnic lunch to enjoy during your drive. Just remember to never feed or get too close to the valley's animals. The National Park Service recommends staying at least 100 yards away from wolves and bears and 25 or more yards away from other creatures like bison and elk.
Lamar Valley can only be reached by car from May 25 to Oct. 10, when Beartooth Highway is open. You're welcome to visit at any time during this period. There are no attraction admissions, but all park visitors must purchase a seven-day pass before entering the park. Other than a few restrooms and campgrounds, no facilities are available, so consider buying snacks and drinks at the Cooke City Visitor's Center (outside the park's Northeast Entrance) or the Albright Visitor Center (by Mammoth Hot Springs) before visiting.