Last updated on August 16th, 2016
There’s nothing quite as spectacular as a geyser that shoots high into the air or a hot spring that offers brilliant colors. The world’s best geysers and hot springs are sprinkled the world over, offering visitors a glimpse of this type of beauty on every continent – yes, including Antarctica! How many of these locations have you visited so far?
The World’s 13 Best Geysers and Hot Springs:
You could spend two weeks exploring all of the different hot springs and geysers here, but the most famous one of all has to be Old Faithful. It was discovered in 1870 and can shoot water up to a height of up to 185 feet for up to 5 minutes. Most eruptions occur about once every hour and a half, although it an be as soon as 45 minutes between eruptions in certain circumstances.
For an even more impressive sight, Steamboat Geyser is the world’s tallest active geyser. It isn’t very predictable, however, and most eruptions only reach a height of about 15 feet. When it really goes, however, it can throw water over 300 feet into the air. The last time there was a major eruption was in 2013 and before that, it was 2005. There was one point in history where it was dormant for over 50 years.
Photos: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Located in Ethiopia, these hot springs sit over 150 feet below sea level. It’s one of the most remote places on the planet and the only way to access the hot springs is by joining a camel caravan that heads out there to collect salt. It’s actually part of a volcano that last erupted in 1926 and features acid ponds that are an incredible green color. How acidic are these ponds? Recently tested pH levels were less than 1, making it as strong as battery acid.
Photos: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
#3. The Blue Lagoon
This is the one that’s in Iceland, not the tropical one where couples frolic around all day. It was formed in 1976 after a geothermal power plant came online in Svartsengi. It turned the waters around the area a very pale blue and someone at some point decided that it might be a good idea to try bathing in the crazy blue water. Not only is it said to be an incredible moisturizer, but some claim that regular use of it can even cure psoriasis. So go ahead, put on your bathing suit, and cover yourself with mud because you’ll have an amazing time at these hot springs.
Photos: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
#4. The Valley of Geysers
This valley is the second largest concentration of geysers in the world and it sits in a basin in Russia that is about 4 miles long. It’s a caldera, like most other geyser formations, but the water can be as hot as 480F under the ground. The area is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is very remote – hiring a helicopter is the only feasible way to get there. The effort will be worth it, however, because the geysers pulsate in a way that’s reminiscent of the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas, NV.
#5. Yellow Dragon Mountain [Huanglong, Sichuan]
One of the most visually stunning sets of hot springs is in Huanglong, China, and has numerous calcite pools that seem to be terraced into the hillside. There are literally thousands of different pools that make up the region and the entire area is a World Heritage Site. It’s not just the hot springs that are the attraction here either. There’s a good chance that you’ll meet up with a Giant Panda as well.
#6. Jigokudani Monkey Park
The monkeys of Japan learned right away that the hot springs of Jigokundai were the place to be on a cold day. The name literally translates as “Hell’s Valley” because the frozen ground of the region often steams and bubbles. Heavy snows are commonplace here, making it a difficult journey that is even more difficult because of a very narrow 2km trail that is required to reach the hot springs. You’ll have to make your way there in winter to catch the monkeys enjoying the hot springs, which further limits the exploration one can make.
The Cotton Castle of Turkey features a series of terraced travertines and hot springs that are bathed in brilliant white. Water emerges from the spring and then begins cascading down the terraces, leaving depositions of calcium carbonate in its flows. The ancient city of Hierapolis was built on this site and even though the heat reaches boiling temperatures often, there are tadpoles that can be seen in some of the pools. You can’t access the terraces, but there is a main path that will take you out near the site. You can still bathe in some of the small pools as well.
This Icelandic valley is one of the most regularly visited locations for tourists on the island. The geysers are very dependable in eruptions, with the Strokkur, one of the biggest in the area, erupting every 10 minutes or so. There are various pathways that will help you access over 40 other hot springs and mud pots that are within this region that has been documented since the 13th century. An earthquake in 1294 is thought to have activated the area and earthquakes have been shown to activate local geysers within the last decade.
Located in New Zealand, the entire Rotorua region is a geothermal playground for people to enjoy. There are over a dozen lakes in the region that are heated by the geothermal zone, providing plenty of fuel for geysers to spray. The cauldera is over 14 miles wide and offers the chance to enjoy sailing and even whitewater rafting. Much of the action occurs around the edges of the cauldera, but don’t miss Okere Falls either, which is a 23 foot drop that is routinely rafted over.
#10. El Tatio
Located in the Andes, this is one of the highest geyser fields in the world. There are over 80 geysers here that are active, which means it’s also one of the largest fields in the world. It’s a major tourist site and would normally be ranked much higher but for the fact that a mining consortium is exploring the fields and there is a lot of equipment in the field that harnesses the geothermal energy that spoils the view.
#11. Washoe Valley
With a half dozen locations in the valley between Reno and Carson City, Nevada these hot springs offer the chance for hiking and exploration in a more rugged atmosphere then you’ll find in other places. One of the unique stops in this valley is at Bowers Mansion, where a swimming pool was dug to take advantage of the hot well that is in the area. Miles of trails are available and there is a playground on site for the kids and extensively developed picnic grounds.
#12. California’s Old Faithful
Situated in some tall pampas grass, this geyser is not something you’d expect to see where it is. It’s a shallow pool of water that surrounds the area and if you didn’t know any better, you’d stumble into they geyser. Except for the bubbling of the water that comes when there’s about to be an eruption, you can get right up to the edge of this geyser safely as it shoots water up to 100 feet into the air. There’s a petting zoo and picnic area on the grounds as well, but beware of the guard llamas!
#13. Ma’ln Hot Springs
What’s unique about these hot springs is that instead of the water originating underground, they come instead from the winter rains that occur on Jordan’s highlands. The water flows into the valley where fissures heated by lava warm up the waters and the area is nearly 1,000 feet below sea level, being close to the Dead Sea. There are Roman baths in the area and an entrance fee to the area, but you can bathe in the waters where King Herod of Biblical fame would routinely utilize for medical treatments.