Not far from the northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park is a place where hot water from Boiling River Spring mixes with the cold water of the Gardner River to create a wonderful, natural soaking experience.
This morning, we made the effort to go do the Boiling River thing that many have recommended. We invited our friends, Monte & Rose, to join us, but we wanted to go early because it gets crowded and stays that way most of every day.
So, at 7:00 a.m. we drove about a mile north from the Mammoth Campground toward the northern entrance to the park. Just past the "Montana" sign where we cross into Montana from Wyoming is a parking area along the Gardner River. From that parking area, we walked a riverside trail about a half mile back south.
There, a small, steaming river, the Boiling River, flows out of the ground ...
and into the Gardner River, a tributary of the Yellowstone River.
You can't soak in the Boiling River itself. The water from the Boiling River will absolutely scald you so you have to be very careful, but when it mixes with the cold water from the Gardner, it makes for a very pleasant, warm, natural soaking experience in this area where rocks have been stacked creating pools.
There was only one person there when we arrived and he left soon after we got there so we had the whole place to ourselves. That's a good thing as many sitting spots have inconsistent temperatures - too cold one minute and too hot the next. So we were able to find a place where the water mixed perfectly and stayed consistent.
We talked and soaked and watched the sun come up over the ridge. Also, an elk cow came down to the riverside, soon followed by her cute little calf. They stayed briefly, until more people came up the trail.
We enjoyed our natural hot tub for about an hour and a half. It was wonderful.
When we decided to leave it was starting to get a little crowded.
It's certainly easy to see why it's a popular place.
As we dried off and got back on the trail leading out, we took a couple more pics.
In that photo above, the Boiling River is just below the large rocks and it is separated by a rock line where the bushy plants are. But there are several breaks in that rock line so that the hot water flows into the Gardner in a few different places rather than all at once. Then you can see the middle section - the pools where the hot and cold water collide and everyone sits. Because the hot and cold mixes at numerous points, folks can spread out a bit. Then, beyond the man-made rock wall is the cold Gardner.
Soaking is limited to the times of 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. You have to be out of the parking lot by 9:00.
It's so convenient to Mammoth Campground, we may have to do that again before we leave. Very nice.