Located on the eastern slopes of the Wasatch mountains, just a few miles from Utah’s ski areas, Homestead is proud of its distinction as the only full-service resort featuring both cross-country skiing and scuba on the same property.
As you enter the well-manicured grounds of this upscale country getaway, the crater’s craggy dome, which resembles a giant beehive, overshadows the stately elegance of the historic hotel situated nearby. Almost 400 feet/122 m across at the base and 55 feet/17 m high, the rock dome was deposited over a period of 8,000 to 10,000 years by warm, calcium-rich waters rising from 2 miles/3 km underground.
The crater became a commercial mineral bath and the nucleus of the current resort over a century ago, when an enterprising farmer drilled into the side of the dome and piped the 94 F (34 C) water into a wooden tub. Access to the pool inside the dome was restricted, however, because the only way in was through the small opening at the summit.
In the early ’90s Dr. Jerry Simons, electrical engineer and owner of Waterworld dive center in Orem, Utah, visited Homestead Resort. He immediately envisioned the crater’s internal pool as a perfect, climate-controlled setting for all-weather diving. In partnership with the resort’s owners, he blasted a 110-foot/34-m tunnel through the side, just above water level.
In 1996 the crater opened for diving and snorkeling, as well as therapeutic mineral baths. Inside the tunnel is a curtained shower and changing area, airfill station and equipment rental center. A separate building housing classrooms, a locker room and reception area is due to open at the end of this year.
The heart of the crater is a rock-walled cavern roughly 85 feet/26 m across containing a crystal-clear pool 65 feet/20 m deep. The high calcium and magnesium content of the water
precludes living organisms, and the spring’s flow rate of 100,000 gallons/379,000 l per day completely exchanges the pool’s contents every couple of days. These factors, plus underwater lighting and sunlight streaming from above, result in wall-to-wall visibility for divers.
Two water-level platforms provide easy access to the pool, and a training platform is suspended 20 feet/6 m under the surface. Because divers can ascend directly to the surface of the pool within the chamber, the crater is not considered an overhead environment and is regularly utilized by scuba instructors for open-water training dives. For safety reasons, maximum diving depth is restricted to 35 feet/11 m. At Homestead’s 6,200-foot/1,890-m altitude, this equates to 52 feet/16 m at sea level.
The novelty of diving a natural hot spring nestled inside a rock dome draws divers from around the world, not just during ski season, but year-round.
Depths to: 65 feet (20 m) but divers are asked to limit their depths to 45 feet (14 m) to avoid stirring up silt. Visibility: Unlimited Water temperature: 96 F (35 C) year-round Marine life: None. But so what? The sensation of diving in soothing hot-tub water is reason enough to come. Fees: Diving rates are $20 Monday through Friday, and $25 weekends; a few dollars less for resort guests. A one-hour “scuba experience,” which includes equipment, is available for $60 weekdays and $75 weekends for resort guests; $75 and $100 for nonguests. Open-water referrals, “tuneup” lessons and certification classes are also available. On-site amenities: A dive center is in the tunnel leading to the crater. Equipment rentals are available. Scuba and snorkeling lessons are taught (by appointment). Nondivers are welcome to swim around or just sit in Utah’s largest hot tub. In addition, the nearby resort can arrange cross-country skiing, snowmobile or sleigh rides, horse rides, golf, mountain biking, and other activities. More information: Visit www.homestead-ut.com or call (800) 327-7220. Reservations are recommended. Open: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. year-round Getting there: From Salt Lake City/Ogden: Take Interstate 80 east up Parley’s Canyon. Exit at U.S. 40/U.S. 189 and go south past the Jordanelle Reservoir. Just after descending from the dam, turn right towards Midway/Wasatch Mountain State Park. After a few miles, you’ll arrive in Midway. Turn right at the stop sign. Follow the signs to the Homestead Resort.