Known as “The Spring that Breathes,” the Intermittent Spring is a radiant and unique natural spring just outside of Afton. The Intermittent Spring is classified as a rhythmic spring, a rare type of spring – only around 100 exist in the world! Here is everything you need to know about one of the most interesting and unique natural landmarks in the world.
What is a Rhythmic Spring?
Like the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone, the flow cycles of rhythmic springs go on and off at regular intervals. Unlike Old Faithful, which spews hot water, rhythmic springs produce cold, fresh water. From late August to May, water flows from the Intermittent Spring for approximately 18 minutes, then subsides for about 15 minutes. Scientists are still determining how this is able to happen, but one theory suggests that the cycle occurs from a siphoning effect from groundwater in an underground cavern.
Rhythmic springs are known from antiquity. In fact, the Bible mentions the Gihon Spring, a rhythmic spring in modern-day Israel as being the source of water to the City of David. Afton’s Intermittent Spring is the largest rhythmic spring in the world.
Who Discovered the Intermittent Spring?
Archibald Gardner, an early settler in Star Valley, discovered the Intermittent Spring in 1889. Working as a logger in Swift Creek Canyon, Gardner stopped by this spring to cool off after a long day working in the nearby forest. As he sat and enjoyed the flowing stream, the water began to subside and eventually start back up again. From that moment on, the Intermittent Spring has become a natural wonder that is one of the biggest attractions in Star Valley.
How to Visit
Those wanting to see the Intermittent Spring for themselves can embark on an easy, one-mile hike to see it. Along the way, you’ll encounter towering pine trees, delicate wildflowers and sweeping vistas. There are also picnic tables on the trail, so pack your lunch and eat surrounded by nature. Don’t forget your camera!
The Intermittent Spring is only one of the breathtaking natural sights to see in Star Valley. To find more to see and do, visit our play page for more details on everything to see and do in the Afton region.