Orenda Spring Tufa – Saratoga Springs, New York - Atlas Obscura

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Orenda Spring Tufa

A beautiful multicolored mound formed by the mineral deposits of the Orenda Spring.  


An easy walk down the trail alongside Geyser Creek in Saratoga Spa State Park provides for an opportunity to see, touch, feel, and climb (yes it has stairs!) a giant dome created by mineral deposits from the Orenda Spring over the course of approximately 100 years.

If you ever have attended a concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and walked across the pedestrian bridge and looked down, you would notice this magnificent pale orange and yellow tufa formation in the creek, colored in a rainbow of hues from the high salt and potassium iodide in the water.

The Mohawk tribes were attracted to this land for hunting, and they believed that the springs had healing powers. In the mid-1800s, Saratoga became popularly known as a health destination with many bathhouses and mineral spas springing up that are still open to the public today. There are 18 public mineral springs in the town, some of which can be seen during the walk down the half-mile trail along the Geyser Creek, along with the tufa. 

Before entering the trail, you are welcomed by the Hayes Well Spring, where you can easily taste some of the mineral water and learn some historical facts about the area. The spring waters are naturally carbonated. At the start of the trail is the Geyser Island Spouter (also a tufa), located on an island of hardened minerals with waters constantly being pushed out to the top by pressurized carbonic gas. The park asks visitors not to stand on the island.

A short walk down the flat and picturesque trail brings you to the Orenda Spring tufa and a waterfall. The water that trickles over and down the tufa formation gives the illusion that the mound would feel slimy. However, it is quite solid and sturdy.

Know Before You Go

During May through September there is a vehicle entry fee into the park. There are plenty of ways to approach Orenda Spring in Saratoga Spa State Park. It all depends on the type of park experience you are craving. The fountain flows near the parking lot for the Saratoga Performing Art Center (SPAC) off of Route 50. In fact, many people who visit the park for a concert will see Orenda’s travertine, bulging along the banks of Geyser Creek that flows below the entrance bridge.

During the offseason, the SPAC parking lot is the closest and easiest way to get to the mineral spring. Another way to walk to Orenda Spring is from the Roosevelt Baths & Spa parking lot. Just walk down the hill at the back of the lot. It’s fairly short and it will bring you to the Vale of Springs Trail.

The trail is 0.5 miles loop. Bring a cup to taste the handful of potable carbonated springs in the area!

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