Reno Tahoe Blog

What's Happening Now

Fly Geyser: One of Nevada’s Little Surprises

FlyGeyser.jpg

A couple of years ago, a photographer friend showed me some pictures he’d taken of a place he called Fly Geyser. He said it was an amazing site that was located about two hours north of Reno on the edge of the Black Rock Desert.

The photos showed three, large green and orange colored mounds of some kind of rock with water shooting out of the top. He said the geyser was located on the Fly Ranch, which is private property (don’t trespass), but could easily be seen from the nearby road.

After seeing the remarkable images of a trio of travertine cones spewing hot water about four or five feet into the air, I knew I had to find this place.

So recently, I took a drive north of Reno to the small town of Gerlach. My map indicated that Fly Geyser was about 20 miles north of Gerlach via State Route 34.

The geyser isn’t difficult to find. The plumes of hot water that continuously pour from the top of the mounds can be seen from miles away. Additionally, once I got closer I could see the distinctive shades of green and rust on the tufa rock pillars that seem to sit out in a field of tall grass.

I’d researched the geyser before heading up there and found that it’s not a natural phenomenon. The geyser was created accidentally in 1964, after a geothermal power company drilled a test well at the site. While the groundwater in the region turned out not to be sufficiently hot to be tapped for geothermal power, it did have a temperature of more than 200 degrees.

According to later newspaper reports, the well was either left uncapped or was improperly plugged. In either case, the scalding hot water was allowed to shoot from the well hole and calcium carbonate deposits began to form, growing several inches each year.

Jump forward several decades, and those deposits have become large mounds taller than an average-sized man that rise out of a field of tall reeds and grasses.

Scientists familiar with the geyser note that the green and reddish coloring on the outside of the mounds is the result of thermophilic algae, which flourishes in moist, hot environments.

Interestingly, the set of circumstances that created Fly Geyser in 1964 apparently occurred at least one time before. In about 1917, a well was drilled a few hundred feet north of the geyser. This well was also abandoned and, over time, a massive 10 to 12-foot calcium carbonate cone formed.

Today, no hot water flows from the older mound. It appears that the earlier geyser dried up when underground water was diverted to the newer one.

After I snapped a few shots, I headed back to Gerlach because my photographer pal had recommended that I stop at a diner called Bruno’s Country Club. He said that Bruno’s serves these delicious, round ravioli that are worth the trip up there.

He was right about both the geyser and the raviolis.—-Richard Moreno

29 Responses to “Fly Geyser: One of Nevada’s Little Surprises”

  1. Adrian Ruch says:

    Hi Richard
    As long as I know is fly geyser on private property. Can you tell me how to contact the owner or the gate kepper?
    Thanks for your help.
    Regards Adrian

  2. Steve calhoun says:

    How do you contact the caretaker of the Fly Geyser?
    Thank You for any info you can share.
    Steve

  3. Gene says:

    I am going to be in the area on the weekend of May 18, 2007, and would appreciate any assistance on finding how to contact the caretaker that could let me see this Geyser.

    Thanks

    Gene

  4. Donna says:

    As per the other posts, can someone provide the number for the caretaker. I would really like to see this and it is a quick trip for me from Reno.

  5. Gene says:

    Has anyone heard from the messages above? Any suggestions to solve this puzzle? If I find out how to contact a caretaker, I will post it here.

  6. Gene says:

    I contacted the Washoe County Ownership/Property Data section of the Assessor’s Office in Reno to ask about ownership of the property where Fly Geyser is located. I was informed that they had to know more specific information: plat number, owner’s name, etc. I then contacted Bruno’s Country Club and Motel in Gerlach to see if they could give me any info on the contact. They would not indicate that they knew anything about the contact for Fly Ranch or Fly Geyser.

    I got the initial info on the Assessor’s Office from The Nature Conservancy Office in Reno.

  7. Rich Moreno says:

    As best as I can tell, the property on which Fly Geyser sits is owned by the Sam Jaksick family of Reno, which acquired it in 1998. Sam Jaksick is a Reno developer, owner of Montreux Golf Course, and the property appears to be managed by his son, Todd Jaksick. The Jaksick company offices are at 4005 Quail Rock Lane, Reno, NV, and the only phone number I could find for Todd Jaksick was 775-849-7978. I tried to reach Todd a couple of years ago but was unsuccessful in getting my calls returned. I believe that a few years ago the Jaksicks tried to swap the Fly Geyser land with the federal government for some land in Clark County but apparently that deal didn’t happen. I also vaguely recall reading about a plan to build a power plant near the geyser but don’t know what happened with that.

  8. Gene says:

    I placed a call to Todd & Dawn Jaksick yesterday and left a message on their answering machine to email me if they could give me a contact for Fly Geyser. I have received no response so far. I am going to be in the Reno/Tahoe area Friday afternoon, May 18 through Monday morning, May 21 and would really like to get some pictures from inside the fence if possible.

    Is the Geyser on the East side of NV 34 or West?

  9. Gene says:

    Upon arriving at Gerlach, I asked a fellow (Bill) at the Gerlach Shell Station, the first business in Gerlach, about the Geyser and he asked if I had an appointment. When I told him that I had tried everything I could to find out how to get in touch with the contact, he told me that the person to contact is Bill Spoo and that you can write him simply at:

    Bill Spoo
    Gerlach, NV 89412

    No phone number, just snail mail to the Gerlach Post Office.

    I also asked him if I could share this and he said it would be OK. He also stated that if you make an appointment, be there on time. He is happy to meet you there, but “nothing ticks him off more that no shows’

    I got a few good shots of the Geyser from the road (about a quarter mile away), but since I didn’t have a tripod to give me the stability I needed, they aren’t any better than to permit me to say I saw it and have photos to prove it. I was shooting with my Nikon D80 and the 70-300mm f4-5.6 lens at 300mm and f5.6.

  10. liz says:

    thank you for all the wonderful photos and places to visit in reno and nevada.
    i will be going to reno in two weeks time and you have giving me many great places to visit,
    thank-you again
    Liz

  11. Rich Moreno says:

    liz:

    I also have a blog you can check out. The address is http://backyardtraveler.blogspot.com. It includes stories from all over Nevada.

    Rich Moreno

  12. Kristy says:

    Gene, you have offered some very good information here. I wonder, do you (or does anyone else) have an update on visiting the Fly Geyser since the last post (May 2007). I would love to plan a trip there this year and wonder if contacting Bill Spoo via snail mail is still the way to go in order to make an appointment to shoot some photos. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks again,
    Kristy

  13. gabe watts says:

    How do you get in touch with the caretaker of Fly
    Geyser and is daybreak or sunset the best time
    to take photos?

    Where is the best place to spend the night?

    Thanks,

    Gabe Watts

  14. Please contact:
    Friends of the Black Rock/High Rock for access to Fly Geyser.
    775-557-2900
    380 Main Street
    Gerlach, NV 89412

    Thank You

  15. kevin fults says:

    Hi! How would I go about getting permission to hike around fly geyser in the winter?

  16. jscripps says:

    Kevin, I think your best bet is to contact Friends of the Black Rock/High Rock for that information (see comment #14). We should have some more information coming from them in the near future as well… happy hiking.

  17. MENIGAULT says:

    Hi
    We will come from France and I would like to visit Fly geyser in August 2009.

    I have read on internet that if we eat at the Bruno’s motel we can reach Fly geyser.

    Is it true ?

    Is it possible to contact Bill Spoo by mail ?

    Patrick

  18. An Anonymous Local says:

    Fly Hot Springs has been off-limits to the public for many years now, starting sometime after Burning Man 1997. There was, as a poster notes, an attempted deal to sell the property to the feds, but that fell through. In a fit of pique, or spite, the area has been fenced off and permission for visits withheld since. Sad, because it’s truly a beautiful place, haunting and interesting.

  19. jscripps says:

    Friends of the Black Rock Desert will help you get in. They have a relationship with the land owner: http://www.blackrockfriends.org/friends/

  20. Metric says:

    Hello, I am the Executive Director of the Friends of Black Rock High Rock. Bill Spoo no longer wishes to be harassed about access to Fly Geyser, he does not have email, and does not wish his phone number to be given out. Friends of Black Rock has from time to time obtained permission for tours, but requests to create a regular schedule of tours has been declined by the owners. I would suggest that interested parties become a member of our organization and watch our regular newsletter for updates.

    The “Anonymous Local” is correct– since Burning Man 1997, the property was sold to a new owner who has increasingly limited access. Bids to purchase the property by the BLM and private entities have fallen short. Many people would like to pretend that the Fly Geyser doesn’t exist; copious internet accounts of the feature suggest otherwise. It has become an attractive nuisance. The owner does not appear motivated to resolve the current situation one way or the other.

  21. Another Anonymous Local says:

    Metric,

    Does anyone have the correct longitude and Latitude for the Fly Geyser? It would be interesting to maybe get a satellite view.

  22. Hello.I ‘m genuinely interested in that.Where can I learn other text about the subject? Any suggestions?

  23. I really love the topic that you shared. Thank you for posting.

  24. Vance says:

    Based on my research, I believe the coordinates to be 40.85938,-119.33194. I live in Sacramento, and will be traveling to the area to look for this soon… Will update.

  25. dowcipy says:

    Hello,great post. Informations are really exciting and saves me a lot time which I have spend on something else instead of googling :) Thank you

  26. dowcipy says:

    Superb post, I would say thanks to admin because i’ve read here a lot exciting knowledge. I’ve added this blog to my RSS reader :) . Bye!:)

  27. Matt Sowell says:

    Nice post. But I would appreciate as would many others if you put up some pictures to go with the content as well.

  28. Angie says:

    Thanks for the great info. We’ve been planning to visit fly geyser and after reading this, we probably will soon. Yeah, pictures would have been nice.

  29. Karen Valitzski says:

    What Happened to the Got Geysers development?

Leave a Reply