Wednesday, August 21, 2013

8-15 Fort Yellowstone & Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs is the area in Yellowstone at the very north end of the park.  It is just five miles from the entrance and town of Gardiner, Montana.  Way back before there was a National Park Service, people were visiting Yellowstone, but they were destroying things and a need was recognized to have some control.  So from 1886 until 1916, the United States Army set up an outpost to act as a park service headquarters.  In reality, it is still the headquarters for the park service, except now it is the National Park Service. 

The town sits in a sort of bowl, surrounded by mountains and the Mammoth Hot Springs.

Most of the fort buildings were built in the late 1890s through the 1920s, so the architecture is sort of an "Army Victorian" style, very different from the rest of the Yellowstone buildings. Most of the buildings are being reused.  Here is the park visitor center.

And the central loop road with a grassy area surrounded by historic buildings.  The white building on the left is the park jail. 

And this is the U.S. Post office.  Pretty impressive, I think, and very convenient.

This is the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and the restaurant.

I knew from a previous drive through this town that the parking for the hot springs was very limited.  With the number of people visiting at this time, I knew it would be impossible to park my motorhome in any of the three lots, so I parked across from the post office and got my bike out for the half-mile ride. 

This strange-looking thing is the remains of a very old geyser.

The hot springs are unusual because they are located at the top of a hill. As the water runs down, it leaves minerals behind, producing these strange formation. 

These last two photos were taken from the drive at the top of the springs.  I could not take my RV down the narrow road, so I parked and walked in a few hundred feet.

I spent just one night here because the campground had no power and very uneven sites.  Nothing like having trouble getting out of bed because the side you need to get out of is higher than you expected.  Even my wooden leveling blocks were not quite enough here.  In addition, while the campground was within walking distance of the Mammoth Hot Springs area, the walk was almost entirely uphill, not my kind of walking.  Terrific view, however.

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