Located about an hour and a half north of San Francisco in Calistoga is the ‘Old Faithful’ geyser of California, one of only three geysers in the world to be classified as an ‘Old Faithful’ due to the regularity of eruptions. Of course, the old faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park is more famous but it doesn’t mean this Californian example isn’t worth taking a look at.
Address: 1299 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA, 94515
Phone: +1 (707) 942-6463
Opening Hours: 7 days a week 8.30am – 6.30pm
Living up to its ‘old faithful’ name, this geyser normally erupts every 30-40 minutes or so and it’s a great idea to pack a lunch so you can sit, eat and enjoy the view over a picnic. Interestingly, the frequency of the eruptions can actually change throughout the year, and some scientists now believe that it is even possible to predict upcoming earthquakes using the geyser!
Apparently, from anywhere between two days and two weeks leading up to a quake, the pattern of eruptions will change at the geyser. Normally, the interval will increase with only small ‘spits’ erupting during the extended interval. While studies are still a work in progress, data is being kept and analysed for the future to make predictions easier so that Old Faithful can help to predict future earthquakes over 500 miles away. Pretty cool right!?
The Old Faithful geyser is certainly a unique place to spend the day and is also very suitable for family days out. Along with the geyser, the grounds that it is situated in also include a large picnic area along with a snack bar and gift shop. The other main attraction, especially for families is the animals. Within the grounds of Old Faithful is a petting zoo that showcases the famous ‘Tennessee Fainting Goats along with Guard Llamas and Jacob’s Four-Horn sheep.
How a Geyser Works:
The water from a geyser such as Old Faithful typically originates from an underground river that flows over hot magma deep beneath the Earth. As the water is heated up by the magma, it boils and expands to fill large cavities below the surface. Under the pressure from the heat, the scalding hot water is then forced up through cracks and fissures before erupting with a tall spout of steam and water.