A warm, soothing mineral pool tucked into a cave below the Earth’s surface may sound like fantasy, but at Homestead Crater in Midway, Utah, subterranean soaking is a real experience that has been attracting visitors for decades.
Just an hour from Salt Lake City, Utah, and 40 minutes from the ski town of Park City, Utah, Homestead Crater is a 65-foot-deep geothermal hot spring that is sheltered from the elements by a unique 55-foot-tall limestone dome. A hole at the top of the dome lets in just enough light and air to keep those wary of enclosed spaces comfortable, and the temperature of the spring ranges between 90 and 96 degrees. While soaking in the warm waters is undoubtedly relaxing, many believe that the high mineral content of hot spring water also relieves joint inflammation, soothes sore muscles, and improves skin health.
Homestead Crater is a geological phenomenon known as a hot pot, and, at 200 feet in diameter, it is the largest of several dozen hot pots in the Midway area. The Midway hot pots formed over the course of 10,000 years as melting snow from the nearby Wasatch Mountain Range seeped thousands of feet down into the Earth’s hot interior. The hot water then gradually rose back to the surface, gathering minerals along the way. The minerals were deposited on the Earth’s surface, and over time they built up around the springs to form the area’s mounds and crater-like depressions.
Homestead Crater is located within the Homestead Resort, which was established in the late 1800s by Swiss immigrants who were attracted to the Midway area because it reminded them of their home country. Until the early 1990s, the only way to access the crater was to rappel down through the hole at the top of the volcano-like rock mound that covers it, but visitors can now enter through a ground-level 110-foot tunnel built on the side of the rock. One soak or swim in the Homestead Crater per day is included in the nightly rate of guests staying at the Homestead Resort, but the crater is also open to the public.
A 40-minute soak or swim costs $13 per person on weekdays and $16 on weekends. Reservations are required. There are two small pools with benches at the edge of the crater for people who prefer to sit while enjoying the water, but many choose to float on their backs in the middle of the deep crater. Life jackets are required for everyone venturing outside of the sitting area. Homestead Crater is the only warm-water scuba-diving destination in the continental United States and is a popular place for completing open-water training.
Not everyone who visits Homestead Crater chooses to get in the water. Visitors can simply take a free self-guided tour of the crater, and there is also a bridge that spans the crater’s opening where you can look down into the crater without ever setting foot underground.
Planning a trip to the Salt Lake City area? Be sure to check out the nearby Deer Valley Resort in Park City.