Canary Spring at Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park

Canary Spring © 2010 Bo Mackison

Not all of the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs are chalky white and dry. Canary Spring at the top of the Lower Terrace flows with heated water that has been moving underground for many years. The vibrant colors – oranges, yellows, dark reds – are caused by cyanobacteria and algae mats. They depend on a stable flow of hot water to stay alive. When the water flow decreases or stops, the micro-organisms die and the colors turn into stark white travertine which covers much of the terraced landscape.

Canary Spring is near the top of the Main Terraces, reached by walking a series of boardwalks and stairways through the Mammoth Hot Springs or by driving the Lower Terrace Overlook Road just south of Mammoth.

Just one more thermal feature photographed in Yellowstone National Park.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Very pretty! You caught the sky just right too!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      It was a tricky sky! Half of that big sky was cloudy and rainy, half blue sky and lots of white clouds. I had to keep changing places to get the sky I wanted in the photo.

  2. Wonderful composition and depth. The colors are outstanding and the sky beautiful.

  3. The colors in this are almost surreal. Especially love the swirly patterns in the earth!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      So many patterns. I had to stop myself, I wanted to take so may abstracts. Each one was more unusual than the last ones.

  4. Great composition. The colors of the pools are striking against the mountain and the sky. On a lighter note, the algae mats remind me of hot caramel that needs to have an apple dipped into it. 🙂

  5. I think Yellowstone must offer a million great opportunities for stunning photography!
    Great picture, the colors and the light are amazing.
    Viele Grusse, Kristina

Leave a Reply