Mammoth is the best city in Yellowstone National Park. Though the Hot Springs have lost much of their luster due to years of drought, there is still plenty to do in this area. Easy waterfall trails, a few nice hikes, and the prettiest town in America. There is even a small herd of elk that can be found in the city park. We gathered our list of things to do near Mammoth in Yellowstone.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth has a mammoth geothermal feature, which gives it the name. You can walk along some boardwalks around mammoth hot springs, but they have actually been dead for around thirty years now. Your time is better spent right in the town of Mammoth, where you can stay in a nice hotel or pick up some food. We’ve made Mammoth our official stop for lunch. There is a really good grill that is fairly cheap, and we always stop for ice cream. Sometimes, we’ll have lunch in the city park with the elk, and then go for ice cream afterward.
We always take a quick walk through the Visitor Center, too. Rangers are available to answer questions and your can pick up or turn in Junior Ranger booklets here. There are a few small displays to enjoy, but the neat part of the Visitor Center is that it is a historic building. The Albricht Visitor Center was built in 1909 as an army quarters. This building is also one of the few spots that has WiFi available.
Upper Terrace Drive
There is a short loop drive that circles around to viewpoints of the Mammoth geothermal feature. This drive is called Upper Terrace Drive because it is right along the top of the hot springs. There isn’t much water anymore, but if you stop and walk the short 1/4 mile roundtrip along the boardwalks to Canary Spring, you will see a little bit of water and get a small glimpse of what Mammoth Hot Springs used to look like. We also see animals along this drive sometimes. This year we saw elk, marmots, and even a black bear.
It is also worth a drive out to Gardiner to see the Roosevelt Arch. This is not a natural arch, but is manmade out of stone, and makes for classic Yellowstone pictures. In order to see the arch, you need to exit the park, so make sure you have your pass. Roosevelt Arch is actually hollow inside, and you can walk right through each pilaster as well as the arch. We enjoy this short drive from Mammoth to Gardner because the road follows the river and we often see animals out here such as deer, elk, and big horn sheep.
East of Mammoth there are two great waterfalls. Undine Falls is a roadside stop, and requires a walk of only a dozen yards to get a great view of the waterfall. There is also a secret trail to Undine Falls that we just discovered on our 10th trip to Yellowstone. It is our new favorite hike in the park and we think most anyone can hike it.
A little further up the road, you can take a short hike to Wraith Falls. This is the only hike that we have done on all 13 of our Yellowstone vacations. It is flat, easy, and guarantees you a great waterfall sighting. Along the way we see plenty of rodents like marmots, chipmunks, squirrels, and sometimes larger mammals like elk and deer. We take Grandma on this hike with us, and she does great!
Rustic Falls is on the road just south of Mammoth. It is also a roadside stop, but it’s along a busy steep curve, so be careful when pulling out. This is one of our favorite waterfalls to see because it is big and beautiful, and not many people stop to visit it.
South of Mammoth is a really nice stop that is relatively unknown. Sheepeater Cliff is a small picnic area with a unique geological feature. The rocks at Sheepeater Cliff have formed in column like structures much like the ones at Devil’s Postpile National Monument. The kids can play and climb in this area, but it is more fun to watch the marmots. These small rodents peek out and whistle, and an entire colony leaves at Sheepeater. We also discovered a secret waterfall in this area that is relatively unknown, which requires only a short hike.
Perhaps the most famous spot near Mammoth is the Boiling River. This is the one place that it is safe to get in Yellowstone’s warm water. (Seriously, people die in geysers and hotpots, so don’t even think about it!) The Boiling River allows swimmers and soakers and has done so for more than 100 years. Though we haven’t had the opportunity to try out the Boiling River, it is on our list of things to do in Yellowstone on an upcoming visit! It is always closed in the spring and early summer because of high water, and that is when we seem to always be in Yellowstone.
Beaver Ponds Trail
This trail is a little long for young families, but it is our favorite trail near Mammoth. We hiked this the Beaver Ponds Trail for the first time when our youngest was 9 because the distance is a little daunting, and the first mile is a pretty big climb up the mountain. Once you are on top the views are beautiful, the trail is nice and easy to follow, and we saw a lot of animals, including two bears. Make sure to carry bear spray on this hike because it is well known for being popular with the bears.
Must Do Stops in Mammoth, Yellowstone
There are so many things to do near Mammoth in Yellowstone National Park, but here are our must-do stops when in this area of the park.
- Wraith Falls
- Undine Falls
- Rustic Falls
- Sheepeater Cliff
- Roosevelt Arch
- Canary Spring
- Spot the Elk in town
- Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins
- Campgrounds: Mammoth Campground. This campground accepts reservations in 2021, so reserve early at Yellowstone National Park Lodges. This is the only campground open all year. Indian Creek Campground is a first come-first served campground.
- Mammoth Hotel Dining Room
- Terrace Grill
- Mammoth General Store
Located at Mammoth and outside of the park in Gardner, Montana.
Located at Albricht Visitor Center, Mammoth Hotel Dining Room, Terrace Grill, near Mammoth Hot Springs, Lava Creek Picnic Area.
Visit our Yellowstone page to find information about seven other areas in the park and to find helpful tips for visiting. Some posts you might be interested in: