Mammoth is a cute little village, more often than not filled with Elk wandering around historical buildings. However the jewel in the crown is the amazing travertine terraces standing above the town.
Travertine Terraces are basically limestone deposits forming shelf-like pools down a hillside. It’s kinda hard to describe – you have to see it! And there are lots to see at Mammoth, with wooden boardwalks above them. You can’t go off the boardwalks as the ground is like a thin crust which could give way!
Mammoth itself lies below the travertine terraces and is a former US army base from the 1890s called Fort Yellowstone. So the buildings are colonial and grand.
We ate in the very plush Mammoth Hot Springs Dining Room, which had a long wait for tables but the bar has mostly the same menu, so if you’re not bothered about a slightly less plush table, you can eat without a wait. When we were there, there was a couple already in the bar waiting for a table. We managed to sit down, order, receive our food, eat most of our food, and only then did they get their table! And ironically as they walked to their table I heard the bloke saying “Yes, Bison Tacos!” which is exactly what we ordered also, without the wait!
We saw lots of Elk roaming around Mammoth, including one with absolutely massive antlers. It was quite special to see. As we drove out of Mammoth we saw an Owl sitting on a fence by the road. It seemed we were practically tripping over all the wildlife there! We had to drive slowly in the dark for fear of hitting a deer or similar.
We stayed the night in Gardiner and when we left in the morning there was an Elk wandering round our hotel car park! We ate a late breakfast of omelette in a lovely cafe and met a friendly American couple who put us to shame when they said they had got up at 4am and went out and saw a family of 7 bears!!
- There is a “drive through” route above the Travertine Terraces on the road going south. This is a short one-way drive-in loop past a couple of fumeroles, but I would give this miss if you are short on time. There wasn’t much to see and it takes a while (esp if you get stuck behind an idiot who won’t pull over but wants to keep stopping to take photos!!)
- If there is nowhere to stay in Mammoth, Gardiner is literally minutes away by car, has plenty of amenities (hotels, food, petrol, etc).
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