Why an intermittent spring you might wonder? We did too, so we headed out to Afton Wyoming, a few miles down the road from our base camp at Star Valley Resort, to explore this oddity of nature.
The hike up the trail to the spring from the parking area is less than a mile. Your grandmother could make the hike and still have energy to dance the hokey-pokey at the top.
It’s well worth the trip and this time of year, the spring runoff swells the creek down the mountain. It’s hard to believe we’re only a couple miles from the main road to civilization!
The reason for the “intermittent” part of the name is due to a natural phenomenon that forms the geology of the spring. It literally springs forth from a hole in the sheer rock face of a cliff.
But deep inside the hole, there is a naturally formed p-trap, not unlike the one under your kitchen sink. The water level rises and falls as the natural basin of this trap fills with runoff water from the snow melt in the mountains above it.
All along our hike to the source of the spring, we were continually amazed at the dazzling beauty of flowers and nature along the way.
The spring itself comes out of a grotto like hole in a cliff. But the forest service has altered it, putting in a concrete ledge above and a louver system that opens as the spring water wells up from below. Apparently people used to crawl down into the hole and that could prove fatal if water rose and they couldn’t get out fast enough.
If you listen carefully, you can still hear the water rising up through the p-trap in the grotto as the louvers start to open up. It’s quite amazing actually, and more dramatic after the Spring runoff begins to subside and the water flow is more “intermittent”.