Distance: .8 miles (loop)
Best time of year: Year-round
Last hiked: 2015 September
The Mud Volcano area is a fantastic collection of mudpots, rich with odd pools and Yellowstone’s signature sulphur smells.
To get the most elevation change out of the way first, head to the south end of the parking area to start the trail there. Along the way, you’ll pass the Sizzling Basin, a massive mudpot bubbling up gasses and acidic water at its far end.
The trail begins a gradual climb up to Churning Cauldron, another large mudpot. Up the trail a bit farther is the Black Dragon’s Cauldron and Sour Lake. Both have been growing, and so in the summer of 2015, the park began work on completely redoing the boardwalks there. Each are massive mudpot lakes that need to be seen to be believed.
Pass through a quiet wooded area and continue down to the original Mud Volcano. Early explorers found this mudpot with a cone that would shoot mud up into the air. The cone has since been eroded away, and now the Mud Volcano continues to gradually eat away the ground around it.
Beyond the Mud Volcano is the Dragon’s Mouth Spring, a large cave where water bounces back and forth from one end of the cave to the other, producing an intense echoing sound resembling the roar of a dragon. Water used to shoot out of the cave as well, but it has since calmed down.
Heading down the boardwalk will take you back to the parking area.
Head right onto the main highway northbound for just shy of six miles. The entrance to the Mud Volcano area will be on the left just before Sulphur Cauldron.