Where to go and what to avoid in finding the best geothermal natural spa treatments
by Paige Wiren
If you’re looking for a departure from your customary pastimes, consider taking in some of Utah’s geothermal mineral waters. Offered here is a taste of the flavor of accessible non-commercial and commercial soaking experiences along the greater Wasatch Front.
Ogden River Springs – A path leads from the roadway shoulder at the mouth of Ogden Canyon down to two hose-fed, rock tubs built alongside Ogden River in a surprisingly lovely setting, given its proximity to the road. The river provides not only a peaceful rushing sound (drowning out the sound of canyon traffic), but also offers a cold plunge opportunity. Buzz from locals is that you need to be on creepy-people alert if you choose to visit after dark.
Stinky Springs – This destination, noted in Hot Springs of the Southwest, can be nixed from any itinerary. Eight-ish miles west of the I-15 Corrine exit, what was once a reputable soaking opportunity now looks like a post-Apocalyptic Hollywood movie set, complete with blood-thirsty mosquitoes. The noxious level of sulfur rising out of the pathetic and forlorn rectangular concrete tubs compounds the overall repugnant experience.
Diamond Fork Hot Springs – Hike and then soak at these sulfurous springs. After ascending some 2.5 forested, creek-side miles, the trail opens to the thrilling sight of a significant waterfall. Three sets of simply constructed, deliciously hot soaking pools border Fifth Water Creek by the falls. Here you will encounter a diverse range of public regulars, from Boy Scouts to the Burning Man crowd. Soaking in the buff, though not officially-sanctioned is, in this magical forest setting, still an option exercised by some naturists.
Midway Local Springs – Located just outside Midway proper, very hot piped-in water flows through a relatively long, clear, shallow, gravel-bottomed pool with dipping access on one side, and dense thickets of willows and cattails along the other. This soak is a quick and easy, right-off-the-road, natural experience; though depending on the eco-consciousness of previous visitors, the surroundings can feel bucolic and pristine, or lamentably unsophisticated.
Crystal Hot Springs – Six bucks gains you entrance to a year-round public soaking and swimming facility, a destination popular with families, locals and those seemingly afflicted. The on-location presence of both hot and cold springs yields various, regulated temperatures in different pools and tubs. The lodge building houses old fangled lockers and changing rooms. Similar to a conventional public pool facility, the vibe here is fun-with-rules.
The Homestead Crater in Midway – What looks like a 55-foot high, earthen igloo is actually the accumulated result of thousands of years of deposited limestone covering a 65-foot deep pool; a mineral-rich pool so blue and warm it’s hard to imagine you’re not in the Caribbean. Swimming, or soaking for a casual, pre-reserved hour, is open to the paying public. Expect to share your out-of-the-ordinary swim with scuba classes.
Zermatt Resort “Geo-thermal Hot Pot” – There’s potential for disappointment between the Zermatt’s website geo-thermal page presentation and the actual experience. $10 buys you a reserved, 30-minute time slot of bobbing (life jacket required) in a tepid crater spring that resembles a giant barnacle top around which resort developers have built the mini-golf course. The superlative staff treats you like a celebrity; the soak, however, is B-rate.
Mystic Hot Springs – Soak away urban pretense at this unaffected and roughly tame Monroe, Utah property. Bathe in steaming mineral water and spend the night in an authentic pioneer cabin, a converted school bus, or your own tent. Owner/artist Mike Ginsburg’s pragmatically liberal, creative vision attracts international as well as homegrown customers to come relax at any hour of the day in either the spacious, communal soaking reservoir or in one of the strategically placed, hillside claw-foot bathtubs.