Yes, it sounds crazy, but Utah has the only warm water diving destination in the continental United States of America. In Midway, Utah there is the Homestead Crater, a short 45 minute trip from Salt Lake City. It is a very interesting geological feature: a geothermal spring. You can learn more about its history directly from the Homestead Crater here.
As a diving instructor, this place is as good as it gets for a place to certify students all year long. Even on those gloomy, snowy winter days, we can get you scuba certified in a 90-96° F spring. You can watch my video here showcasing the crater features!
The crater has a beehive shape to it and is made of limestone. Underwater, the crater takes on an hourglass shape: starting wide, going narrow, and then opening up wider at the bottom. The crater is fresh water. The hot springs are located at the bottom which is sandy. The depth at the crater is about 65 feet. However, I have recorded as deep as 68 feet.
On the surface, there is a dock. You enter the crater water with a seated entry. No giant strides as this could cause water to splash the walls and create silt! Not to mention any unsuspecting swimmers near by not looking for a full face submersion. There is a little hot tub area (one that hasn’t sunk! Keep reading for more on this…) for swimmers. There is another hot tub area big enough for scuba divers to rest between dives and take a break. There is a cold, fresh water hose found here that you can drink from to re-hydrate from the heat.
The crater’s springs are constant. They have to actively pump the water out. The top of the crater is open to the elements, which is amazing to sit in the hot water with snow falling on your face! The owners manually dug a tunnel through the side of the crater which allows easy entry and exit to the street. Inside the tunnel you will find changing rooms, lockers, and hooks for your belongings.
They even have an air compressor right there in case you need a fill. Someone is always on staff at the desk in the tunnel for your safety.
The crater is a great place to take students. There are buoys with lines going down to a platform that reaches between 23-25 feet deep. There is a light on the platform to help with visibility during skills. You might find some of the resident creatures of the crater here: turtle, crab, lobster, alligator… (of course they’re fake! We’re talking about a ~92° F fresh water spring here!).
Another set of buoys have lines attached to PVC piping at about 20 feet deep. There are knots tied at 15 feet on these lines for easy safety stops. The center of the crater follows the PVC piping at 20 feet with lines continuing down to another set of PVC piping at about 45 feet deep. Next to this piping is a diamond shaped ring for buoyancy exercises. Near here, just a bit shallower, you will find an old wagon wheel that often gets decorated by the season with cool features. Last I saw, there were some animal skeletons on it, probably remnants from Halloween.
If you keep following the lines down the center of the crater, you will come to the bottom. You will see what looks like wood fencing. Rumor has it that they made a hot tub on the surface and when they came back the next morning it was gone! This is the feature you now see at the bottom. The bubbling out in one of the corners of the wood is one of the
You may feel a bit warmer at the bottom. This is one place where the deeper you dive the warmer you get! That is because the water comes out of the springs hotter than 92° F. As you swim around the perimeter of the crater, keep your eyes on the walls. There are a couple of faces in the wall that will be evident. Hint: stay around 30 feet deep. After your dive, a quick rinse to the gear is all you need since it’s fresh water. Then, enjoy the way you feel after diving for an hour or two in hot, mineral filled water! Don’t forget to drink plenty of water.
Altitude Diving at the Crater
STOP! Before you attempt diving at the Homestead Crater, please consult with a dive shop about taking the altitude diver course. The location is at an elevation of about 6000 feet. If you remember from your open water scuba diving course, any dive taking place above 1000 feet is considered an altitude dive and special considerations need to take place. For instance, a dive to 48 feet at the crater is logged as a dive to 62 feet based on the altitude depth charts. This is very serious because if you do not adjust your actual depth to a theoretical depth then you can exceed your no decompression bottom times.
Reservations to dive in the crater must be made in advance. Typically for scuba, they give you a two hour time slot in which you have to get dressed, dive on one tank, and exit the crater. When you arrive at the crater, you head straight to the activities center where you will pay the crater entry fee (found on their site) and fill out the waiver. They also sell snacks, drinks, and apparel there. There is a couch and tables to log dives as well as a ping pong table to have some fun.
Not a diver? No worries, they have a soak experience where you can enjoy the warm water without dunking your head. Call ahead for reservations though.
The Homestead Resort is also a great place to stay for the evening with affordable accommodations located in the beautiful Wasatch mountains, neighboring the quaint mountain town of Heber.
The Homestead Crater: Great way to get in the water in Utah year round!