If you have been following this blog over the past 10 years you know I am drawn to unique, little known or forgotten places across the west. When that unique item happens to be “a one of a kind” geological feature it quite often goes to the top of the list to be hunted down.
So when my wife and I stopped for a break at a travel kiosk along the Oregon Outback Scenic Byway, then saw a dot on the kiosk map that said, “Old Perpetual Geyser”, the hunt was on….
A quick online search revealed the following: Old Perpetual was the result of a well being drilled in an attempt to increase the flow of hot water to a commercial hot springs back in the 1920s. It is the only geyser in the state of Oregon, erupts every 90 seconds, and shoots 200-degree water 60 feet into the air.
“Wow, quite the attraction,” I said to my wife, “We need to stop and see it when we pass by.”
However, figuring out exactly where that dot on the map actually was proved to be more elusive than learning about the geyser. Best I could discern was that it was located at Hunter’s Hot Springs a couple miles north of Lake View, Oregon.
I went to Google Earth and quickly found the hot springs. Clicking on Street View, I expected to see big signs along the highway pointing the way to this one of a kind attraction, but no luck. Well, I had the coordinates to the hot springs, so I figured we would get close to ground zero and find it. I mean how hard could it be to miss a 60 foot column of hot water shooting into the air every 90 seconds?
An hour or so later, we arrived at the turn off to the hot springs. Yes, there was an outdated sign advertising Hunter’s Hot Springs, but no mention of the geyser. Driving down the road to the hot springs we spied a pond with evidence of hot water bubbling to the surface and the rundown commercial buildings of what was obviously a thriving hot springs business 30 to 40 years ago.
We looked around, waited for 5 minutes or so, and decided we must be in the wrong place. Grabbing my phone and looking at the satellite view of our location on Google Earth, I noticed there were more ponds north of where we were located and a road passing fairly close to them. Getting back on the highway, we arrived at the road which is named “GEYSER VIEW LN”.
Definitely a good sign I said to my wife! Traveling slowly down the road we saw the ponds but no signs or pullouts announcing we “had arrived” at the geyser viewing area, nor did we see water erupting into the sky. We continued down the road until we found a place to turn the truck and travel trailer around.
As we started back towards the ponds I saw what appeared to be the tail end of an eruption as a column of steam was drifting away from the ponds. Pulling off the side of the road (as best we could) we patiently waited 90 seconds for the next eruption, nothing; minutes later, nothing. After about five minutes of nothing we were getting ready to leave when there it was, the geyser erupting in all of its glory!
Later research revealed that the “must see attraction” in Lakeview has been having plumbing problems since 2009 and is running out of steam! Needless to say, it is no longer being promoted as a tourist attraction by the local chamber of commerce. I guess the Oregon Department of Transportation needs to update the byway kiosks!
Reflecting on our experience, my wife and I count ourselves as among the few having been lucky enough to witness an eruption.
If you want to try your luck viewing the geyser:
You will find the intersection of Highway 395 and Geyser View Lane at: N42° 13.334’ W120° 21.943’ My wife and I viewed the geyser from the south shoulder of Geyser View Lane at approximately N42° 13.331’ W120° 22.136’
Better than watching it parked in your RV on the shoulder of the road, secure a space at Base Camp RV Park (formerly Hunter RV Park) and see if park management can direct you to a place to witness the nearby geyser on foot. You will find the turn for the RV park at N42° 13.104’ W120° 21.853’
On the hunt for an elusive, once famous geyser, just another adventure in RVing!