Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park

Lower Terraces at Mammoth Springs @ 2010 Bo Mackison

The Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces in the northwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park are easy to drive by. They look like large terraced white rock. Nothing spurting hot water, no geyser countdowns, no bubbling pools. You only get the rewards when you walk up and down the many planked steps and boardwalks. Then the beauty of the hot springs, often a rugged beauty, can be seen.

The terraces are formed when hot water carries dissolved calcium and bicarbonate to the surface of the terraces. The carbonate and calcium combine to form a hard rock known as travertine. The abopve photo features a large terrace of travertine — bright white steps which turn a greyish color as they weather. In other areas of the terraced hot springs, water is running and it changes the colors of the white-gray rock.

Not all areas of the terrace have water flows. When we were there a week ago, there were only two areas that had pools. Most of the hot springs were the whitish-gay dry travertine.

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. This photo reveals a powerful, stark beauty of the area, Bo. It is quite remarkable!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Yellowstone is so many things. Many people never see this part of the park, but it has some fascinating photo ops.

  2. Fascinating landscape. Simply beautiful!!!

  3. Very nice, Bo! That’s a view that’s beautiful but seldom photographed.

  4. Gorgeous sweeping capture!

  5. Beautiful image Bo, love the textures you were able to capture in this, and the fg element leads you right thru the image..Great work !!

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