If there were ever a place that relied on its past to draw people in, Flaming Geyser State Park would be it. Despite its disappointing "geysers" (they're no Old Faithful), this 480-acre park alongside the Washington's Green River is still a worthy recreation spot for any outdoor enthusiast. And, after all, the park's two geysers do tell a fascinating tale.
According to the state:
On October 4, 1911, Eugene Lawson drilled a hole for the purpose of discovering coal.* At about 390 feet he found a seam of clean coal 6.5 feet thick. [Methane] Gas started coming out as he drilled past 900 feet. The hole is 1,403 feet deep and 6 inches wide. During drilling saltwater was also spewing from the hole. ...On October 11, 1922, Mr. Lawson returned and observed the gas "bubbling furiously." He ignited the gas, and it burned freely with a flame from five inches to three feet in height...the flame would occasionally leap up to 15 feet in height.
The spectacle lead to the establishment of a private resort during the 1920s that faced bankruptcy by the 1960s. Washington State then purchased the property and converted it into a state park.
Today, the Flaming Geyser occasionally has a flame that is little more than a few inches tall, and the "Bubbling Geyser" just upstream still leaks methane that has caused the minerals in the stream to turn gray in color. Beyond the geysers, the park includes over 3 miles of the Green River (popular with inner tube floaters, rafters, and anglers), a designated remote-control model airplane flying area, 4.3 miles of hiking trails, playgrounds, five picnic shelters, and innumerable picnic tables.
* As the name might imply, the Black Diamond area of Washington is responsible for producing roughly 14% of the state's coal supply.
Note: Alcohol is strictly prohibited in the park. To reserve any one of the park's five picnic shelters, call 360.902.8844.