On our way up to Mammoth Hot Springs, we stopped at Mud Volcano, to see Dragon's Mouth, which is a cave that has boiling water coming out of it. When the original settlers of the area came upon this cave, they had thought that there was a Dragon that lived inside, because of the steam coming out of it and the roaring noise that the boiling water was making as it was coming out.
Dragon's Mouth - Yellowstone National Park, USA
The cave was very neat to see, but once again, with the morning temperature being in the low 40s, it was difficult to see the actual cave with all of the steam coming out of it, but the actual concept of the cave was very cool. It's just amazing that boiling water can come out of the Earth, naturally.
In that same area of the park are some other hot springs, some of which are really large and others that are on the small side. From the top of the hill in that area, you could see the steam from all of the hot springs because it was so cold outside, and it was a really neat view with the mountains in the background.
Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park, USA
Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park, USA
Also in this area were the Mud Volcanoes, which instead of just water boiling, these are mud ponds that boil. Seeing mud boil was actually a really weird thing to see. You don't really think about boiling things with the consistency of mud, at least I don't, so actually seeing it boil is a strange occurrence. The cool thing about it, though, is that the boiling seems to be slow, and not as rapid, which means that when you take pictures, you can actually see the ripples and the bubbles in the boil.
Mud Volcanoes - Yellowstone National Park, USA
Boiling Mud Volcanoes - Yellowstone National Park, USA
Next, we finally arrived at Mammoth Hot Springs, where we saw some geysers, similar to the ones in the Old Faithful area of the park, and the hot springs, which over thousands of years, have formed a large sulfur mountain. Like the sulfur in the geysers, there is also a lot of sulfur in the water in the hot springs, and as the water boils, a buildup of sulfur is created, making the white-faced mountain that you see in the picture below. From far away, it looks like it was snow covered mountain, which I thought could be possible considering that it was getting so cold at night, but I was proved very wrong when we got closer.
Mammoth Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park, USA
This mountain of sulfur was created from some of the larger hot springs, and the sulfur has actually killed the nature that is around that area. Small grasses are able to survive, but trees that once stood with green leaves and branches are now just dead sticks that are being held up by the hardened sulfur around the trunks.
Sulfur Tree Forest - Yellowstone National Park, USA
It's actually a really interesting thing to see, and makes the hot springs just seem a little more ominous. Over time, as long as these trees stay standing, they will likely petrify because of the acids and the minerals in the water. It will take millions of years for this to occur, however, so unless technology really advances in the next fifty years or so, we will never live to see it happen.
Trees at Mammoth Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park, USA
After spending the morning and early afternoon at Mammoth Hot Springs, we started our trek back to the hotel, stopping on our way to see the Petrified Tree. This tree is over 40 million years old, and at one point there were three of them this size that were all situated next to each other on this hillside of Specimen Ridge. The other two trees were more accessible than this one, and tourists were picking them apart, taking pieces of the petrified wood as souvenirs. This led to the park association fencing in the last remaining tree to preserve it. It was a beautiful landmark, but it was difficult to get a good view of it, as you can kind of tell from the picture below - it's situated on the side of a ridge, and there is a small walkway that allows you to see it, although it is a little further up the hill, making for difficult photo taking.
Petrified Tree - Yellowstone National Park, USA
We hit some road construction on the way back to the hotel, which ended up delaying us slightly for our dinner reservation, and we didn't get much of a chance to do some hiking. Instead, we got cleaned up and had dinner, just in time to watch the gorgeous sunset over Lake Yellowstone.
Sunset over Lake Yellowstone - Yellowstone National Park, USA
It was the perfect ending to a great day in the park, and our last night there as well, but the recaps of Yellowstone aren't over yet. In fact, stay tuned for two more posts about Yellowstone, one of which is my absolute favorite part of the park, and then we travel to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the Grand Tetons for a few days.