This alien-looking geyser on the edge of Black Rock Desert is actually man-made. Man-made by accident, that is.
There are two geysers on the Fly Ranch property. 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.
In 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.
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.
Know Before You Go
The geyser can be seen from State Route 34 north of the town Gerlach. In 2018, the Fly Geyser opened to the public for the first time in decades. As of now, weekend Nature Walks are available. During this walk, you get to see a portion of the 3,800-acre property which includes dozens of hot springs, cold springs, three geysers, wetlands, and more. See the 2019 lineup at https://blackrockdesert.ticketleap.com/flyranch2019/
It is important to note the nature walk is device-free. You will not be permitted to take photos during the walk so that you can connect with the land and each other without distractions. However, at the end of the walk, you will have time to get your camera and snap some photos.