This Little-Known Hot Spring Crater Is The Most Unique Destination To Swim In Utah

Some of us bag peaks. Some of us chase waterfalls. And who doesn't love to island hop? But one of the best collect-'em-all adventure plans is the one we call soak seeking. Do you keep a secret list of hot springs around the world with the best views, checking them off one peak experience at a time? Do you hope to someday be reincarnated as a Japanese snow monkey who spends the winter in a steamy mountain pool? If so, you won't want to miss this unique spot in Utah.


A hot spring that has always been near the top of every soak seeker's list is the Homestead Crater, just outside of Midway. This geothermal wonder was formed 10,000 years ago when melting ice met heat from the Earth's core and bubbled up, forming a perfect travertine dome 55 feet tall and 400 feet wide, with a circular skylight at the very top to let one perfect beam of light illuminate the glowing pool of blue water below. Inside, the 65-foot-deep pool of mineral-rich water stays at a perpetual 90-96 degrees, the perfect temperature for an extended soak.

Homestead Crater's unique story

When discovered, the only way to access Homestead Crater would have been to drop down from the skylight on a rope, like Tom Cruise dropping into a vault in a scene from "Mission Impossible." In the 1990s, a tunnel was built for access, and changing rooms were added. Docks provide the means to climb in and out of the water once you're inside, and life jackets are provided and required. Reservations are for 40-minute sessions. If visiting in the daytime, try to book between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so that the sun is directly overhead and shining most dramatically down into the water.


The crater is an example of a formation that was common to the area — they aren't actually craters, but miniature volcanic calderas. The pioneers who settled there took to calling them "hot pots." Schneitter's Hot Pot Resort was opened there by a family of Swiss immigrants in 1886, and has been operating in some form ever since (thankfully getting a name change along the way). The freshly renovated Homestead Resort today is an impeccable execution of the popular farmhouse modern style, with lots of clean white walls and rustic black fixtures. You don't have to stay at the resort to visit the crater, but it makes a great splurge.

Things to do at Homestead Crater

At most hot springs, there is really only one thing to do: lean your head back, let your feet float up, and say "Ahhhh!" That's how you'd relax at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, for instance. But at Homestead Crater, there are multiple ways to kick the experience up a notch, starting with the fact that you can actually snorkel or scuba dive, and even get your PADI certification. It is the only warm water certification site in the contiguous United States. There are separate sessions for swimmers and divers, so you won't have your mellow harshed by wetsuited wanderers if your goal is to bliss out in peace.


Our favorite adventure at Holmstead is one that's only available in winter: It begins with a guided sunrise or sunset snowshoeing expedition, followed by a quick change of clothing, then on to a stand up paddleboard yoga class inside the hot springs. You can substitute hiking for snowshoeing in warmer seasons, but somehow, removing the hot and cold from the equation spoils the yin and yang perfection of what might be the goofiest yet most blissful spa day ever.