Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone

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Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris Geyser Basin

Road Closed from early November to Late April

Length: 21 miles
Picnic Areas: 4
Hiking/Biking trails: 1
Campgrounds: 1

This section of road in the park, while longer than some, has some of the most varied terrain you will see in one section. There's everything from meadow marshes and bogs (which are prime habitat for Moose to meander and graze) to land devoid of all visible life, which is interesting because it has been formed by steam vents that are so hot and acidic they killed all life in the area. Once you've seen all the vast meadows and harsh terrain you can handle the road turns down a very narrow valley intersected by a beautiful stream. You'll pass the Obsidian Cliffs, which are tremendous to see. And finally, on the very last stretch to Mammoth you'll travel through the Golden Gate which leads you on an old stage coach route that used to be made of wooden planks. Don't worry though, the road was rebuilt in 1977 for vehicle travel. Look for the rock called Pillar of Hercules. It is the largest rock you'll see in the pile next to the road. All the wooden planks on the original stagecoach road were anchored to this rock.

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Features along the road to see (From South to North along the Road):

Bunsen Peak - This peak is 8564 feet high and is accessible for hiking from a trail that starts at the Golden Gate. The trail is 4.2 miles round trip. There is also a nice trail for walking, mountain biking, or skiing if you take the Old Bunsen Peak Road. This option will not take you to the top of the peak, but merely around it. It is a beautiful road to explore. You can definitely see the effects of forest fire on nature on and around this peak as it was burned in 1880 and again in the 1988 forest fires. The peak was named after Robert Wilhem Bunsen, a German Physicist. His theory on geysers was published in the 1800s and it is still believed to be accurate. The common name for Bunsen burners used in chemistry labs today were the result of Robert Wilhelm Bunsen's study of geysers and the similarity between the effects of Bunsen burners on liquids and geysers.

Golden Gate – The Golden Gate Bridge was built of wood planks in 1885 as a means of stagecoach passage over the river. The wood planks were all anchored to a rock named the Pillar of Hercules, which you can still see today. The road was completely re-built in 1977.

Swan Lake – from Swan Lake you can see Little Quadrant Mountain, Antler Peak and Bunsen Peak.

Sheepeater Cliff – These steep, rocky cliffs were named after the Shoshone Sheepeater Indians, the only known aboriginal occupants of what is now the Yellowstone National Park.

Obsidian Cliff – This cliff made of obsidian was named in 1996 as a National Historic Landmark. The Obsidian forms from lava flows that cool very rapidly. The rapid cooling and lack of hydration make this cliff an amazing and original site.

Beaver Lake Picnic Area – A nice picnic area to stop for a break. The picnic area is right on Beaver Lake and is a good place to watch for Moose and birds.

Roaring Mountain - Roaring Mountain was named for the loud hissing and burning of steam vents which could be heard up to 4 miles away. You will notice in visiting the area now, it is nothing but quiet. The activity in this area has quieted quite a bit, but you can still see the effected of the acidic thermal vents and the heat of the water on the landscape. While it's not as active as other thermal features in the park it is interesting to see the after affects of those features.

Twin Lakes – A great spot for tranquility and bird watching. These two lakes are nestled into the trees and provide a relaxing spot for enjoying nature.