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Old Faithful Geyser of California

Calistoga's Old Faithful Geyser Erupts Every 40 Minutes


old faithful geyser erupts

California's Old Faithful Geyser erupts every 40 minutes

© Betsy Malloy 2003
  • Hours: Open daily, including holidays. Check Old Faithful website for more information.
  • Reservations: Not required
  • Cost: Entrance fee. Check their website for discount coupons
  • Location: Northwest side of Calistoga, directions below
  • How Long: Allow half an hour or less, depending on how soon you arrive after the last eruption
  • Best Time to Visit: Any time

It's sometimes called California's Old Faithful, and it's one of the few geysers in the world that erupt at regular intervals. Every half hour or so, on the average, Calistoga, California's version of Old Faithful erupts, throwing 350°F water as much as 60 feet into the air.

The erupted water is hot enough to inflict severe burns, so keep a tight grip on wanderers of any age.

The main thing to do is to watch the geyser erupt. Whether you'll like it depends on your experience and interests: If you've seen Old Faithful, it may seem like you're watching a miniature geyser by comparison, but if you haven't been to Yellowstone and want to see a rare, regularly-erupting geyser do its stuff, you might like it. With an entrance fee that would get you into a movie and an eruption that lasts only a few minutes, only you can decide whether to spend your cash elsewhere.

Besides the geyser, you'll find a few llamas and a herd of Tennessee Fainting Goats, a breed that faints when startled. The goats grow used to human noises and seldom faint, but they're cute and children seem to like them.

Here's how the geyser works: Geysers occur only when nature provides a water supply, a source of heat and a rock formation strong enough to stand pressure, but also with cracks or fissures to release that pressure. Calistoga's geyser gets its water from an underground river, heated to boiling by flowing over hot magma. Pressure from the boiling water and steam builds up underground until the geyser erupts and releases the pressure.

Owner Olga Kolbek recorded the geyser's eruptions for many years, observing that eruptions grew less frequent just before seismic activity in the area. Few scientists wanted to believe that a little retired school teacher and her geyser could predict earthquakes, but Kolbek finally got the attention of Dr. Paul Silver of the Carnegie Institute, who analyzed her records and validated her claims, she says.

Getting to Old Faithful Geyser

1299 Tubbs Lane
Calistoga CA 94515
From the downtown Calistoga, take Grant Street/Myrtledale Road north to Tubbs Lane and turn left, or from the intersection of CA Hwys 29 and 128, take Hwy 128/Foothill Boulevard north and turn right on Tubbs Lane.

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