Geysers of Utah and Surrounding States
When most people think of geysers, they immediately associate the word with Yellowstone National Park. This is unsurprising because the park is home to thousands of geothermal features and hundreds of active geysers. The crown jewel, Old Faithful, is one of the most iconic geysers in the world and draws large crowds year-round.
If you venture off the beaten path in Utah, far from the crowds of Yellowstone, you can also encounter some fascinating geysers. They may not offer the wooden walkways and gift shops of a national park, and they’ll probably never be featured on a postcard. But these lesser-known geothermal oddities, found in Utah and other western states, are stunning just the same. There are many of these lesser-known geysers in our area and this list looks at four of the most unique.
Utah’s Crystal Geyser
Just a few miles outside of the town of Green River is the Crystal Geyser. This geothermal oddity is man-made. An oil drilling effort in the 1930s tapped into the water below and created an opening for future eruptions. But unlike nearly all other geysers in the world, the Crystal Geyser isn’t powered by geothermal forces. It’s a cold water geyser, fueled by carbon dioxide pockets underground.
Despite its lack of geothermal power, this geyser can still reach impressive heights. The Crystal Geyser erupts daily, but it’s difficult to predict when it’ll go. If you’re lucky enough to be there, it’s stunning to see cool water rocketing high into the air.
The Cyrstal Geyser is located in Green River, Utah. Travel east on Main Street for approx 2.9 miles to the New Area 51 Rd. Turn left on the New Area 51 Road and travel approx 2.3 miles to the Crystal Geyser Safari Rte/Little Valley Rd. Turn right onto this road and travel approx 3.5 miles. Stay right to stay on the Little Valley Rd. Travel 0.5 miles and the Geyser will be on the left. Directions can be replicated on Google Maps.
Utah’s Chaffin Ranch Geyser
Also known as the Champagne Geyser, this is another of Utah’s unique cold water geysers. Like the nearby Crystal Geyser, it was also created by a drilling operation many decades ago.
The Chaffin Ranch Geyser is different from Crystal Geyser in a couple ways. First, it generally erupts every few hours. This is nice because most visitors don’t have to wait around all day to see it in action. Second, it is significantly smaller than its better-known neighbor. In fact, it looks more like a giant drinking fountain than anything else. Still, it provides the opportunity to see one of the nation’s only cold water geysers spouting out of the rocks.
The Chaffin Ranch Geyser is also located in Green River, Utah. Follow Main Street to the airport sign and turn onto Long Steet. Go south on Long Street and turn left onto Green River Avenue. In about a block turn onto the Airport Road and travel over the railroad tracks. From the tracks travel 2.4 miles to the Lower San Rafael Rd. This junction will take you from the paved county road to a dirt road.
Travel on the Lower San Rafael RD for approx 20.3 miles to the Chaffin Ranch Rd. Travel approx 0.9 miles to the parking area. Directions can be replicated on Google Maps. The road is usually passable in all vehicles in dry conditions only. Please come prepared with a full tank of gas, food, and water.
The Chaffin Ranch Geyser is on private property so please pack it in pack it out and respect this land owners property.
Soda Springs Geyser
The Soda Springs Captive Geyser is located in Soda Springs, Idaho. This is not a natural geyser like those found in Yellowstone National Park; nonetheless, this geyser is unique and has some great history tied to it as well. On windless days this man made geyser has been reported to reach heights between 100 and 150 feet. The mineral laden water has built up over time creating a beautiful light brown rock formation around the geyser. There is a walkway with interpretive signs built around the geyser that allows visitors to explore the area.
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Nevada’s Fly Geyser
Photo Credit: T. Douglas
Located about 120 miles north of Reno is Fly Ranch, home to the strangest geyser on this list. It all started back in the early 1900s, when the owners of the ranch drilled a well. They soon hit water, but it was a scalding 200 degrees. The drilling crew capped the well and abandoned their efforts. Mineral-laden water slowly leaked up through the cap, however, eventually forming a 12-foot calcium carbonate cone.
In 1964, a second well was attempted not far from the first. Again, they hit boiling water. This well was also capped, but the water pressure was sufficient to burst through in several places. Constant jets of water now spray in multiple directions, making the Fly Geyser look like some sort of alien feature.
The most striking aspect of the Fly Geyser is its vibrant colors, which are caused by thermophilic algae. The erupting water leaves behind calcium carbonate deposits that have accumulated over the years and have formed the large geyser mound and multiple terraces. Thermophilic algae thrive in these conditions, creating the brilliant red and green hues that give the geyser its unforgettable look.
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