San Rafael Cold Geysers

San Rafael Cold Geyser Abandoned mining sites, intriguing rock formations, and cold water geysers are just a few of things you can find around the lower end of the San Rafael River, where it converges with the Green. While cruising along interconnected dirt roads, you’ll pass rock formations of every color. It’s like diving into a geological layer cake. You’ll wish you had a mineralogist handy. Early spring is a great time to visit. Time it right, and the temperatures will fall right in the Goldilocks zone.

While driving some of these backroads, I pulled off to examine some ancient-looking rusted wagon parts and an old car, all crusted over with strange red minerals. Nearby, a small hole in the ground bubbled fitfully. With little warning, water erupted from the hole, spewing water over fifteen feet up into the air.

It turned out to be a cold water geyser. There are a few of these geysers scattered about the area, including the much larger and more well-known Crystal Geyser down on the Green River. I was lucky to hit this small one just as it was erupting.

The geysers were created in the 1940’s, when miners drilling exploration wells hit a carbon dioxide-rich aquifer confined underneath the dense upper layers of rock. The difference in CO2 pressure between the aquifer and the atmosphere brings the water spewing up to the surface. It’s like shaking a can of pop, then cracking it open. If you want to get in touch with your inner child, feel free to run through the water like a kid in a sprinkler. Just don’t complain when you end up smelling like rusted metal and strange chemicals.

Getting There

Crystal Geyser is the largest cold-water geyser in Utah. It was created in 1937 by an oil company’s exploratory drilling. Crystal Geyser is located right on the bank of the Green River, about 4.5 miles downstream from the town of Green River. Water from the geyser cascades over orange and white travertine and spills directly into the Green River. On average, it erupts once every 8 to 22 hours. Other, smaller geysers can be found in the vicinity, but their eruption patterns are unpredictable, and they’re more difficult to find.

Take exit 164 south from the I-70, then head east along the frontage road that parallels the highway. After a short distance, veer south and continue 3.5 miles to a junction with Little Valley Road. Turn right, and follow the road a few more miles to the trailhead.

GPS Coordinates

Crystal Geyser: 38.9383° N 110.1356° W

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