If you visit Yellowstone National Park and are interested in “experiencing” hot springs in a very direct way, you won’t want to miss “Boiling River.” This special place is maintained by the Park Service but not listed on official Yellowstone maps or marked with road signs. The popularity of Boiling River has led to some destruction of surrounding flora as well as rocks, so I think the Park Service intentionally tries not to over-market the area to visitors. It’s described on the official National Park Service webpage, “Mammoth Area Natural Highlights,” in the section titled, “45th Parallel Bridge and Boiling River.”
After parking in the parking lot or in designed roadside areas near the Wyoming / Montana border sign on highway 89 just north of Mammoth Hot Springs, you’ll need to walk about a half mile to the south along the river. This is where the runoff water from the hot springs above runs into the Gardiner River, making an ideal spot for soaking as well as cooling off on a hot summer day. Whether you heat up or cool off depends on how close you get to the river’s edge where the hot springs water flows in!
As you approach the river’s edge, you can see where previous users walked too close and caused multiple overhanging ledges to collapse.
This image shows the source of the main river of hot water which flows into the Gardiner River. It’s VERY hot coming out of the ground here!
I have been to Yellowstone National Park multiple times but had never heard of “Boiling River” before or visited it. After spending about an hour and a half there today with my daughter, it’s a Yellowstone destination I definitely want to visit again! Be sure to bring your swimsuits and check it out on your next visit!
I recorded a few video clips with my iPhone at “Boiling River” today and uploaded a lightly edited version from my iPad to YouTube. As you can see, despite the lack of Park Service marketing this is still a well known and popular place!
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