Getting in/out of SUVs. Choose from 3 hikes in the Mammoth Hot Springs area. Slower paced 3 mile hike; elevation gain/loss of 350'. Medium paced 4-5 mile hike; elevation gain/loss 350'. Faster paced 6-7 mile hike; elevation gain/loss of up to 1,000'. All hikes/walks will be on dirt and rocky trails with uneven terrain. All hikes may vary from the description based on conditions; hikes will be finalized and described by the instructor the night before.
In our meeting room located in the church’s basement a short walk from the motel, we'll enjoy a catered breakfast with a hot entrée and sides, plus water, coffee, tea, and juice.
Our morning introduction in the meeting room provides an overview of the Greater Yellowstone area. Known for its geothermal activity and diverse ecosystems, Yellowstone spans 2.2 million acres of valleys, canyons, rivers, lakes, and mountain ranges. Sometimes called "Wonderland," the park is home to the highest concentration of wildlife in the lower 48 states and is at the core of one of the last undisturbed ecosystems in the Earth’s temperate zone. Mid-morning, we will then board SUVs for our first hiking adventure. Hikers will have the choice of different levels of hikes based on preference and ability. Our instructor will describe all three hikes offered. We will board according to hiking groups and head into Yellowstone National Park to our first hiking destination. As we enter the Mammoth District, you will immediately notice the Mammoth Hot Springs, which are the main attraction of this area. These features are quite different from thermal areas elsewhere in the park. Travertine formations grow much more rapidly than sinter formations due to the softer nature of limestone. As hot water rises through limestone, large quantities of rock are dissolved by the hot water, and a white chalky mineral is deposited on the surface. Mammoth Hot Springs are a surficial expression of the deep volcanic forces at work in Yellowstone. The hiking choices offered will be in and around this area and will help you determine your comfort level hiking on the rocky terrain and high elevations.
We will enjoy trailside sack lunches including a sandwich, chips, fruit, and cookie.
After lunch, we will continue our hike and the immersion into the Yellowstone ecosystem and become more familiar with its various life zones. Our daily hikes with commentary from our instructor are an exploration of marshland, high desert, forest, hydrothermal, and grasslands communities. You'll understand how their geologic bones, together with elevation and weather, evolved into vibrant habitats populated by the flora and fauna that is present today. We may have time for additional walking on the several hundred stairs that lead over the large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine terraces.
This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like and is a great opportunity to check out your hiking headquarters in Gardiner. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
At leisure to enjoy camaraderie and the view from the back patio which overlooks the grand Yellowstone River, which is revving up for spring runoff.