Western Vacation: Mammoth Hot Springs

After a lovely night in Red Lodge and a full view from the Beartooth, we moved on to Mammoth Hot Springs.  Mammoth is nice because of its village feel.  It has a main lodge, cabins with or without hot tubs, a general store, gas station, restaurant, grill, visitor center and museum, and its own boardwalks with thermal features.  It offers plenty of panoramic views and loads of hiking options.  
The cabins are a nice way to relax in Mammoth.  They feature cute cut-outs, a roomy porch, and are clustered around a skating rink in the winter.  
This was our view directly behind our cabin. 
We walked to dinner in jackets and long sleeves – quite the weather change from North Carolina.  
The obligatory after dinner pose on the balcony of the restaurant at Mammoth. 
The main lobby has a covered drive-up.  We took over some benches after dinner to digest our meals and ice cream.  Yellowstone has the best huckleberry ice cream around.  
An after dinner stroll was just the ticket.  The evening is nice for sight seeing in Mammoth for several reasons – the light is perfect, it has cooled off, and the crowds have dispersed as many visitors pass through the main lodges and end up staying outside the park or in the campgrounds.  
Liberty Cap is the remnants of an old hot spring.  The formation is the left over mineral deposits.
Obligatory warning sign photo.  
In all seriousness though, we saw far too many people stepping off of boardwalks and walking through unsafe areas.  The ground around thermal areas can be quite thin and the possibility of falling through and serious injury or death is too high to risk.  Stay on the boardwalks and marked paths.  
The terraces at Mammoth.  These are step-like thermal features that tend to move and shift over the years.  The dormant ones leave big white, empty spaces behind.  The coloring comes from tiny organisms called thermophiles.  These thrive in the hot water of the hot springs and other thermal features of Yellowstone National Park.  
You an opt to stick to the nice and flat boardwalks, or you can climb up and get a bird’s eye view of the terraces at Mammoth. 
Greta and her grandparents relaxing. 

My sister, Caroline and her husband, Brady. 
Eric and I went on a baby-free beautiful hike the following morning.  Thanks, Dad for the babysitting!

This sky is so blue it looks fake.  I could look at this sky all day.  

The hike was through the wide open sagebrush filled alpine meadows that make Mammoth as beautiful as it is.  
We found plenty of elk evidence. 
That evening, we drove on the Old Gardiner Road, next time I hope to bike this road.  This is the original road taken into Yellowstone by the stagecoaches.  It is now a one way road, leaving Yellowstone and ending at the North Entrance, or the Roosevelt Arch. 

It has soaring vistas, little to no human traffic, and meanders through the gorgeous countryside. 

It’s unreal, right?
We stopped for a (fussy) family portrait. 
We saw this pronghorn grazing along the road, as well as a collared coyote.  Alas, no photo of the coyote. 
Our ending point, the North Entrance.  We had a picnic and celebrated my sister’s birthday at the picnic grounds that are literally on the other side of this arch.  I always thought Caroline was so lucky to be able to have these views on her birthday.  

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