The Utah Crater: Out of this World Geology and History
One of the most unique activities you’ll ever experience in your lifetime is the Utah Crater. This 10,000-year-old geothermal hot spring sits beneath a 55-foot tall beehive-shaped limestone rock formation and is located on the Homestead Resort property in Midway, Utah. The mineral-rich warm water stays an average of 95° F (35° C) year-round and is the only warm-water scuba certification destination in the lower 48 states. Aside from these fun current facts, how did this attraction get discovered and become one of the most visited sites in Heber Valley, Utah? Read on to learn all about it.
In 1891, Maria and Simon Schneitter didn't imagine that Schneitter’s Hot Pot Resort would become the world-class Homestead Resort that serves as the bedrock in the hearts of Heber Valley residents and the state of Utah. A wonder to behold, the Utah Crater may look like an ordinary hill or large mound of Earth from the outside. But upon closer look, you’ll discover this "hill" is, surprisingly, a limestone shell encasing a natural geothermal spring in Midway, Utah.
The Utah Crater was formed when melting snow from the Wasatch Mountains seeped deep into the earth. The geology of the crater is fascinating and one can only imagine the awe and wonder when it was first discovered. Research is still being conducted today to learn more about this natural geothermal phenomenon.
In the 1800s, Simon Schneitter, an immigrant from Switzerland, settled in Heber Valley — a mountainous area with over 200 unique formations the settlers called “hot pots.” Simon acquired a large amount of land to be used for farming. Located in his plat was the largest hot pot of giant proportions, approximately 55 feet high and 400 feet wide at its base. Research a hundred years later helped the settlers come to learn that rain and snowmelt in the nearby Wasatch Mountains percolate into the ground, descend along cracks and fractures to depths below the earth’s surface and become heated, then return to the surface to create the crater. When the water becomes heated, it deposits a material known as travertine.
Travertine is mainly composed of calcium and produces an abundance of white, porous lava-like rock — found all over the crater and surrounding area today. Unfortunately the mineral-laden water from the hot pot proved too much for many of the farming crops, so the Schneitter family found a more lucrative use for the hot, mineral-dense water.
Natural Cleaning Agents
The Schneitters piped the spring from the base of the crater making it easier to enjoy the geothermal water without having to rappel down the limestone cavernous walls. Word started to spread and soon neighbors and visitors were dropping by to bathe in the medicinal waters. Even with an influx of visitors, the water remained clean. Years later, researchers discovered the crater doesn't need cleaning agents because of the carbon dioxide naturally present in the water. (Also, the cause for the unique smell you will notice when you visit.) In addition to the cleaning nature of the carbon dioxide, the water also passes through about 15 feet of layered sediments at the bottom of the natural pool. It takes the water approximately nine months to a year to pass through this subterranean layer. The water pumps in through an aquifer with water heated by the earth's interior at a rate of 135,000 gallons per day! Visitors are informed not to drop anything into the water or it will be impossible to dive down and retrieve.
Constant Warm Temperature
The Schneitters quickly realized they could monetize this truly unique warm-water experience, so they opened Heber Valley’s very first resort. People quickly discovered Schneitter's Hot Pots Resort and made the trek to swim in the warm waters. There are multiple other hot pots around the valley that vary in temperature depending on seasonal changes with the mixing of hot and cold spring water, but the Schneitter Hot Pots aren’t too hot or too cold — the temperature is just right. The Schneitters soon added a public dining room to the south end of the family home and Maria Schneitter's cooking became as big of a draw as the geothermal spring.
Over the next century, Schneitter’s Hot Pots evolved into what is now the Homestead Resort. To many visitors past and present, the Utah Crater may seem like the greatest soaking hot spring in Utah with lots of lifelong memories made over the years. This geologic phenomenon continues to bring visitors near and far all year long. To reserve your spot at the Utah Crater for swimming, soaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, or even SUP yoga atop the water, call 435-657-3840 or go online and book today!