Fly Geyser: Nevada’s Accidental Manmade Wonder

Fly Geyser near Gerlach, Nevada | Photo:

When most people think of the Nevada desert, they think of an arid expanse without a drop of water in sight. What they don’t realize, though, is that the desert is home to multiple six-foot-tall geysers that spit boiling water five-plus feet in the air.

Known as the Fly Geyser, this manufactured collection of geysers is a must-see for anyone visiting the desert.

The Fly Geyser is part of Fly Ranch, which sits in Northern Nevada — about two hours from Reno — and was purchased in 2016 by the Burning Man Project.

The first geyser began to form on this site in 1916. At the time, residents were trying to drill a well, but they gave up when they realized the water was too hot.

Decades later, in 1964, the primary geyser was accidentally created when a geothermal power company drilled a test well on the property.

Reports revealed that the well was improperly plugged or left uncapped. As a result, hot water shot from the well hole and caused calcium carbonate deposits to form. These deposits grew several inches each year.

Several decades after that, the deposits have turned into three large mounds. They stand almost six feet tall and are colored in various shades of red and green — which comes from thermophilic algae that love hot, moist environments.

As if these mounds aren’t fascinating enough, they also contain quartz. Typically, it takes about 10,000 years for quartz to grow within geysers, making the Fly Geyser even more intriguing.

Because the Fly Geyser is located on private land, visitors can’t drop in and explore whenever they want. However, Fly Ranch, in partnership with Friends of Nevada Black Rock High Rock, offers three-hour guided tours.

These nature walks take visitors through much of the property and include a visit to the Fly Geyser and nearby hot springs.