Homestead Crater :: Midway, Utah
When people think about Utah for a vacation, they usually think skiing, or possibly hanging out in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival – but scuba diving, not likely. However, there is one place in Utah, amongst its unique parks like Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley, where you can actually go scuba diving in an underwater hot spring. A toasty 96 degrees year-round, the Homestead Crater allows folks to dive down up to 45 feet deep to explore the blue water and the formations left from the thousands of years ago when it was first formed. The Homestead Crater, located in Midway, Utah, about 45 minutes away from Olympic Village in Salt Lake City. The crater is a popular spot not only for scuba divers, but also for those tired after a long day of skiing or just needing a nice soak in its mineral infused waters.
Local spas in the area use the water from the Homestead Crater to pamper guests. The Homestead Resort is the most popular of these resorts, offering an Aveda spa and access to the Homestead Crater. The Homestead Crater is the only warm water scuba diving destination in the continental United States. It is about 60 feet wide and 65 feet deep, although divers are not allowed to descend more than 45 feet or so to keep silt from being kicked up. Divers are also limited to 40 minutes of diving at a time, because the water temperature combined with swimming can cause overheating. The crater itself was first discovered in the late 1800s when Simon Schneitter discovered the hot spring on his land and started touting its medicinal properties. He wound up opening the first resort in 1896, called Schneitter’s Hot Pots, which is now the Homestead Resort.
The crater began forming about 10,000 years ago when snow melting from the Wasatch Mountains seeped down about two miles into the earth. The water, once there, was heated by nearby volcanic activity and pushed upward again. As it made this journey it acquired minerals that eventually led to the limestone formation of Homestead Crater. Other than the water piped into the pool at the Homestead Resort, the only other way people used to be able to visit was to be lowered down by a rope. But in 1996 a man-made tunnel was created using dynamite to allow for easy access for visitors. For those new to scuba diving, the Homestead Resort offers a one-hour scuba “experience” to introduce you to diving. Snorkeling and swimming are also options if you don’t feel like taking a full plunge. The greatest thing about the Homestead Crater is that it is open year-round, so even when it is 20 degrees outside, once you near the spring, you’ll be warmed by the heat coming off the water while still being able to look at the chilly outdoors through the opening above.
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