FLY GEYSER: ONE OF NEVADA’S LITTLE SURPRISES
FLY GEYSER: ONE OF NEVADA’S LITTLE SURPRISES, Fly Geyser is a small geothermal geyser located in Washoe County, Nevada. It is 12 feet tall if you include the continuously growing mount on which it sits. It is privately owned by Todd Jaksick, the owner of Fly Ranch, meaning that visiting without permission is considered trespassing. You have been warned!
A five-foot jet of water is constantly expelled from Fly Geyser into several terraces that discharge water directly to 30-40 travertine pools over an area of 30 hectares. The brilliant color of the mound is due to the presence of thermophilic bacteria, although several concentrated minerals are also present.
There are actually two geysers on the Fly Ranch propertyIn 1964 a geothermic energy company drilled a test well at the same site. The water they struck was that same 200 degrees. Hot, but not hot enough for their purposes. The well was supposedly re-sealed, but apparently it did not hold. The new geyser, a few hundred feet north of the original, robbed the first of its water pressure, and the cone now lies dry.
The first was created nearly 100 years ago as part of an effort to make a part of the desert usable for farming. A well was drilled, and geothermal boiling water (200 degrees) was hit. Obviously not suitable for irrigation water, this geyser was left alone and a 10 to 12 foot calcium carbonate cone formed. This second geyser, known as Fly Geyser, has grown substantially in the last 40 years as minerals from the geothermal water pocket deposit on the desert surface.
Because there are multiple geyser spouts, this geyser has not created a cone as large as the first, but instead an ever growing alien looking mound. The geyser is covered with thermophilic algae, which flourishes in moist, hot environments, resulting in the multiple hues of green and red that add to its out-of-this-world appearance.
The source of the Fly Geyser field’s heat is attributed to a very deep pool of hot rock where tectonic rifting and faulting are common. Fly Geyser was accidentally created during well drilling in 1964 while exploring for sources of geothermal energy. The well may not have been capped correctly, or left unplugged, but either way, dissolved minerals started rising and accumulating, creating the travertine mound on which the geyser sits and continues growing. Water is constantly released, reaching 5 feet (1.5 m) in the air. The geyser contains several terraces discharging water into 30 to 40 pools over an area of 74 acres (30 ha). The geyser is made up of a series of different minerals, but its brilliant colors are due to thermophilic algae.
The 3,800-acre Fly Ranch property, where the geyser resides was purchased by Burning Man in 2016. Currently it’s not open to the public, but they’ve got plans to create a permanent, year-round site for artists and visitors.
How to get there:
Fly Ranch is located 21 miles north of Gerlach, Nevada. The Fly Geyser sits on private land (no trespassing on this fragile environment), but it’s highly visible, sitting about a ⅓ of a mile off of Route 34. The plumes of water can be seen from miles away.