Hot springs are always a popular attraction. Whether commercialized into pools featuring spa-like amenities or simply flowing free through the wilderness, most everyone enjoys relaxing away the stresses of the day. But if you want to take a warm soak inside a unique 55-foot high, 400-foot diameter travertine dome, head to the Homestead Resort in Midway, Utah. Open to the public since 1996, a hole at the top of the dome lets in sunlight and fresh air while the water stays heated by the mineral water at a constant range of 90 – 96 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Crater is actually a geothermal spring hidden within a beehive-shaped limestone rock. The spring that feeds the crater produces about 90 gallons of water per minute, and is one of many geothermal hot pots in the region. The sloping mound of “trifa” or travertine was built up over the centuries by periodic overflow of mineral-rich water. Scientists theorize that rain and snow melt in the surrounding Wasatch Mountains percolated into the ground, then was heated as it descended a mile or two underground along cracks and fractures. At these depths, a major influx of carbon dioxide gas in the water occurred. This allowed the water to dissolve substantial amounts of limestone en route to the surface and then deposit that material as “travertine” when carbon dioxide escaped from the water at the surface.
Before the owners of the Homestead property decided to make the caldera more accessible, visitors had to rappel through the hole at the top of the crater to access the water. Now there is a 110- foot tunnel in the north side of the dome that leads right to the water’s edge. A wooden deck runs nearly the entire width of the water as well as two designated soaking areas. Life jackets are mandatory (water is about 65 feet deep), and once you’re floating in the azure warm water, look up at the opening 45 feet above your head. You might just see people looking down at you! If you want to take a peek, just climb the 78 steps that lead to the top of the crater. A small bridge spans the opening.
The Crater’s warm water attracts many scuba diving enthusiasts wishing to get certified in a comfortable environment, so you just may see an instructor with a student or two. An ongoing archaeological project works to retrieve items from the 8-14 foot deep layer of silt that covers the bottom. Artifacts that have been lost or thrown down into the crater over hundreds of years include firearms and coins. What an inviting place to dive for treasure!
IF YOU GO:
Reservations are required for a 40-minute soak.
Monday through Thursday 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm – $11 per person
Friday & Saturday 10:00 am to 8:00 pm – $16 per person
Sundays 10:00 am to 6:00 pm $16 per person
Large parking lot can accommodate all sizes of RVs.
Homestead Crater is located at the Homestead Resort
700 Homestead Dr.
Midway, Utah 84049