Geysir, also known as The Great Geysir, was the first geothermal water spout described in a printed source. It derives its name from the Icelandic word meaning to gush, and in turn gave the English word geyser, for any periodically spouting hot spring. Accounts of hot springs in the Haukadalur region where Geysir is located date back to 1294. The two guide books I had and the Wikipedia had different numbers for how high the spouts used to be – 60 meters, 80 meters, 170 meters. Although they may all be correct, as the size and frequency has varied over the years as the geothermal characteristics of the area have changed. At the moment, Geysir is dormant. The Wikipedia article did have some interesting discussion of things that had been done to induce geyserism. Who knew?
However, there is an obliging neighbor, Strokkur – the churn – that goes off every five-ish minutes, shooting up 20 to 30 meters. It’s one of those captivatingly irregularly regular things that you can’t quite walk away from because it.just.might.go.again. No, I’m not going to stand here and wait. But it’s so cool to see! Just one more. WOOOO! OK, now we’re going to go. Really. OHWHOA there it goes again!
There were other pools, and steaming vents, and signs warning not to put your hand in the water because (duh) it’s hot. It’s one of the major tourist attractions, as it’s an impressive and scenic display of geothermal power, and it’s not far from Reykjavík, and a large modern visitors’ center with dining options and a massive gift shop has gone in just across the street to service the masses. There’s also a hotel, which is being expanded. There was no fee to walk around the Geysir area, although apparently there has been some talk of having one. My sister had visited when she’d been an exchange student and none of the facilities were there. She thought maybe a board walk where the brick path is now, but you pretty much just pulled over on the side of the road and tromped about.