Utah is well-known for its abundance of outdoor pursuits. A stunning backdrop to the Salt Lake Valley, the craggy peaks of the Wasatch and Uinta mountains lure thousands of people in every year for summer hiking and winter skiing. Farther south, a dusty desert landscape has become internationally renowned for its thrilling mountain biking trails and one-of-a-kind national parks.
More unexpectedly, landlocked Utah is also home to the only warm-water scuba diving locale in the continental U.S. The ubiquitous mound of earth that conceals the location is so commonplace it would be easy to drive right by without realizing you’re treading near something quite special: an underground geothermal spring that’s been forming slowly over the last 10,000 years.
How Did This Come To Be?
For millennia, snow from the Wasatch Mountains melted and seeped down about two miles below the Earth’s surface where it was heated up. The supercharged water made its way back up through cracks and fissures, picked up minerals along the way, and deposited them on the surface. This process eventually formed the volcano-shaped crater now known as Homestead Crater. Above the water a 55-foot tall beehive shaped dome rises up with a small hole that lets in just a small beam of light from the outside world.
The spring sits on land that was once owned by Swiss settler Simon Schneitter, who quickly discovered the crater and the warm mineral water. Word spread and locals started visiting the curious “hot pot.” A small family resort was built-on site for guests to see the crater for themselves.
What to Do There
You won't find many places more suitable for a soak regardless of the time of year. Even if it's snowing, the bright blue waters naturally remain a warm and steamy 95 degrees. You can go for a swim, rent SCUBA gear at the crater's full service dive shop, or bring your paddleboard and participate in the yoga classes that take place there.
How To Do It
Located in Midway, Utah, the area is within driving distance of several other big cities if you want to take a day trip out to Homestead Crater. Park City is a mere 20 minutes north and Salt Lake City is 45 minutes to the west on the opposite side of the Wasatch mountains.
Dropping by Midway for the weekend is also a viable option, however. The remnants of Swiss architecture from days-gone-by gives the city a hint of old-world charm and its location near Wasatch Mountain State Park, Olympic Venue Soldier’s Hollow, and world championship golf courses means you’ll find plenty to do regardless of the time of year.