the world is going to pieces. I don’t mean in the rant-on-Twitter way though some of the dismayed voices I’ve read on social media make compelling points. I mean more in the four and a half billion years of shattered-crust plate tectonics way. That’s ominous sounding, perhaps, but it’s really just a benign way for the Earth to lose a little heat.
Those of us in Utah get to enjoy benefits of the terrestrial pressure release valve—including those majestic mountains we’ve been skiing all winter and pockets of geothermally heated water for when we’re ready to thaw out. Hot springs bubble up in Utah’s landscape, and people throughout the Beehive State have fashioned them into subterranean SUP yoga studios, utopian hippie villages and even tropical inland seas. Nothing’s better than balmy aquatic adventure in the high desert spring—so get ready to dive in.
The World’s Oldest Yoga Studio
The combination of stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and hot yoga seems like something straight out of a new age wellness scenester’s fever dream, but even ardent skeptics will be won over deep in the Homestead Crater. For millennia, Wasatch snowmelt seeped into the ground where heat from the Earth’s interior warmed the water, pushing it back towards the surface depositing the minerals that formed what Park City Yoga Adventures (PCYA) owner Julia Geisler refers to as the oldest yoga studio in the world.
The Crater maintains a toasty temperature of 90-96 degrees Fahrenheit regardless of the weather outside while the fresh air and natural light afforded by the crater’s open top keep abyssal claustrophobia at bay. The 95-degree water is especially welcome when the inherent instability of a SUP board and yoga’s balance imperatives compel you to take a dip. Despite appearances, SUP yoga in the Homestead Crater doesn’t require laser-like focus and skill to enjoy. PCYA tailors a program to fit your group’s experience, and ending up in the water is kind of the point. Regardless of how successfully you elongate you thoracic vertebra and open your hips, SUP yoga in the Homestead Crater is a surreal experience unlike anything else you’ve tried before and feels especially therapeutic after a long day on the slopes. Pricing starts at $80 per session.
700 Homestead Dr., Midway,
Let’s Get Metaphysical
An artist driving a bus back from a Grateful Dead concert in Las Vegas stumbles across some fledgling hot springs, purchases the land and turns it into a free-spirited oasis in the Utah desert. That sounds a bit too on the nose, but it’s exactly what happened to Mike Ginsburg in 1995. For the past 23 years, Ginsburg has been restoring cabins and buses, building soaking areas and hosting special events at Mystic Hot Springs.
Monroe may not be atop your list of must-see destinations in the state—there’s a good chance you’ve never even heard of the sleepy town named for our fifth president—but it’s right of U.S. Route 89 and is a great place to stop on your way to or from a spring trip to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park. The restorative properties of the sulfur-free, 99-110 degree Fahrenheit water will doubtlessly feel good after hiking through the desert whether you’re in one of the two soaking pools or the six vintage cast iron tubs. An acoustic concert venue adjacent to the soaking areas creates an ethereal atmosphere for a Utah sunset. Spend the night at Mystic. Campsites $30, but pony up $60 to stay in one of the Grateful-Dead-themed buses.
475 E 100 N, Monroe,
An Inland Sea
Salt Lake City is some 700 miles from the closest ocean, but that doesn’t mean you can’t revel in a tropical scuba diving experience right here in Utah. Bonneville Seabase has geothermally heated pools with a natural salinity of three percent, which is very similar to ocean water. Thus, fish like salt water mollies thrive in warm water rising from a fault in the salt beds of old Lake Bonneville.
The inland sea is a perfect setting for snorkeling and scuba diving. Divers must be open water certified, and those who are can rent gear for as little as $20 per day. The rest of us can rent snorkel packages for $12 per day or for only five bucks enjoy a pedicure courtesy of the saltwater mollies. Seabase delivers a one-of-a-kind experience to dive, snorkel and feed fish like you would in a coastal destination without ever leaving the endorheic watershed of the Great Basin.
1600 UT-38, Grantsville,
What Makes a Hot Spring?
Heat is everywhere beneath the Earth’s surface, so why do only some spots have hot springs? Western Utah is expanding, leading to thinner areas of crust where heat is closer to the surface. The expansion also creates faults, which allow cold water to seep down and warm water to percolate up, resulting in a pool of hot water in which you can relax, fall of a SUP or even swim with tropical fish.
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