Desert phenomenon bursts to life

By | Travel
Fly Geyser up close. Credit@ Jeremy C. Munns via

As far as the eye may see there is immense, sweltering red rock landscape. The deserts of Nevada are stark in their beauty with a staggering contrast between land and sky. Synonymous for the bright lights and bustling streets of Las Vegas and the vast terrain and endless highways of the desert basin, Nevada offers variety and excitement. This US state has built upon tourism to such a degree that it has become Nevada’s main source of commerce. Whether it’s gambling luck away, experiencing an eye-watering performance or hunting alien conspiracies in area 51, Nevada is heavily populated by those seeking adventure.

The Nevada Desert is most commonly known as the Great Basin, the largest desert in the US. Its endless landscape includes; mountain ranges dried by years of wind and sun, dry river beds and immeasurable salt flats. So expansive the great basin is that sub regions have been organised mainly managed by civilian and military factions of the US government.

Dry lake bed within Black Rock Desert, Nevada.  Credit@Tee Poole via

Dry lake bed within Black Rock Desert, Nevada. Credit@Tee Poole via

One aspect of the great basin is the 300,000 acre Black Rock Desert. Named for its darkly hued volcanic rock mountain ranges and dry lake beds, the Black Rock Desert houses encompassing landscapes and a widely unknown attraction that looks alien and out of place compared to the flat plains surrounding it.

Nestled within the Hualapai flat on the edge of the fly reservoir, lies the fly ranch geyser. An artistically coloured trio of travertine cones discharging pressurised hot water and vapour at a constant rate. A sight so extreme in its disparity to its surroundings that word is starting to spread regarding this unbelievable sight.

The fly ranch geyser is only partly a natural phenomenon; it was born from human miscalculation. A geothermal power company started this geyser formation in 1964. After drilling a test well to source for groundwater hot enough to show signs of geothermal activity, the test site was declared not suitable. However, this miscalculation soon became a blessing in disguise. Deep within the poorly capped test well, dissolved minerals started to accumulate and rise. Calcium carbonate deposits soon began to form on top of the travertine mounds previously created by the pressurised minerals eruption.

Fly Ranch Geyser. Credit@Krasivyiy Lichnyiy Geyzer via

Fly Ranch Geyser. Credit@Krasivyiy Lichnyiy Geyzer via

50 years on and the fly geyser is more breathtaking than ever. Standing currently at just over five foot and continuing to grow, all three geological terraces discharge hot spring water into over 30 pools surrounding the geyser. Algae attracted to the hot, mineral rich environment has coloured the geyser vibrant shades of red, orange and green. This peculiar geological beauty is back dropped by the tall dry grasses and mountain ranges within the Nevada Desert.

Although the geyser is privately owned, close up views are possible via the owners, while the geyser can be seen clearly from the closest road. Its reclusive location only adds to the unbelievable nature of the fly ranch geyser. It is worth the trip to see the concept of nature and human error co-creating a phenomenon so visually astounding.

Only a few geysers exist around the world, few of which display the same extraordinary characteristics the fly ranch geyser possesses. It’s easy to understand how this vibrant red and green mineral-spewing formation has been added to the list of most unusual places to visit around the world, yet surprising to know how few of the world’s population already know about this man-made phenomenon.

The fly ranch geyser is a prime example of how beneficial a change of perspective can be. It shows the rewards that can be given to those that seek to find original and exciting adventures in unlikely places. New depths have certainly been discovered in the Nevada Desert, proving how worthwhile it can be to think outside the box when it comes to discovering new sights and forging unique memories.

What new and unusual places do you dream to discover?


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