Round Trip Distance: 0.10 - 6.6 miles
Elevation: 4063 - 4369 feet
Cellphone: 2-4 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: I 70 Exit 164
Attractions: Scenic geyser/travertine limestone
The Crystal Geyser is located just south of Green River, Utah along the east bank of the Green River. The geyser as it appears today was created by an oil exploration well drilled in 1935. Crystal Geyser is different from most geysers like those in Yellowstone National Park wherein it is not created by geothermal activity but rather by carbon dioxide. The Powell Geographic Expedition of 1869 is the first written report of the original geyser.
For this post we begin at Exit 164 of Interstate 70 to create a printable map to take along for making it easier to navigate the various roads in the area around the site. Begin measuring where the pavement ends on the south side of the Interstate at Exit 164. Follow the road east and then southeast along the old missle base for approximately 2.3 miles and turn right.
The information kiosk in this picture is a good marker at this point to show that you are on the correct road. As you are driving you will pass by multiple old tin buildings dating back to the early Cold War times.
From here the route follows a very nice and wide gravel road. As you continue the road will drop down a bit of a steep hill to get down to the level of the river. This area, we believe, is called Little Valley.
There are several jeep and ATV trails that intersect and branch off of the road and most of them have trail markers to differentiate them from the main road.
Stay to the right near the 5.8 mile point as the main road makes a bend to the right. On the left is a memorial marker to Bill Thompson that is interesting to read. There is also a sign on the road straight ahead for the Little Valley Farms. This bend in the road is also right before it passes beneath the powerlines.
The geyser sits right on the bank of the Green River where there is plenty of room to park nearby.
A stub of the well casing was left sticking several feet out of the ground with a piece of expanded metal welded across the top that is probably meant to keep people from dropping rocks and debri down the hole. The geyser is said to erupt at least once every day but there isn't a pattern or timeline to go by. What we have read on Wikipedia is that when enough CO2 dissolves in the aquifer below the pressure sends the water skyward. The water that comes out of the hole is cool to the touch since there isn't any geothermal activity involved.
When the geyser erupts the water cascades down a terrace of colorful orange travertine limestone, that varies in hues of white to almost brown, and into the river. We are surmising that since the whiter areas are dryer that after the sun works its magic on the travertine that it bleaches it. If that is what is at work here then if the geyser were to cease erupting then eventually the site would lose all of its wonderful colors.
During our visit the water rose several feet into the pipe causing a flow of several inches of water to stream its way to the river. We found out later that these short burping events usually prelude an actual eruption.
Closer examination shows how the water pools and the travertine is built up in layer after layer.
During our visit there were a few other people that came and went and none of them bothered to walk down to the river to see what we felt was a stunning photo opportunity.
The Crystal Geyser only adds about an hour to any visit to the town of Green River, Utah. We plan to return at some point and stay long enough to see the geyser actually erupt. According to Wikipedia an eruption can last between 7 - 32 minutes or 98 - 113 minutes. Just the fact that this type of geyser is very rare will make it enough to attract visits from most curious explorers and even if it doesn't erupt it is still a pretty sight to see. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.